Posts Tagged ‘prostitution’

Sight Seeing

July 11, 2013

As I do my bicycle commute from East Oakland, through West Oakland, and then onto my final destination of North Oakland, I see some interesting things.

I see beauty all over the place.

Sometimes selling itself on the corner for a quick fix from reality.

Sometimes just in the pattern of the clouds against the sky.

The sky that can sometimes thrust me back into my four-year old body as it stared up from the back window of a Volkswagen bug and I am lost in sense memory until the next light changes and I realize I better stop rather than fly through the intersection.

The commute is getting quicker, I know where I need to go, which street to hit, what intersections to be wary of, which ones I can blow through without much thought, but it is still interesting.

Especially to the writer in me.

The things that caught my eye today:

The beautiful curvaceous body of a young girl, perhaps sixteen, perhaps seventeen, in a body hugging crimson short dress with new sandals.  The sway of her heart-shaped earrings broke my reverie and I realized she was a hooker working the corner, but for just a moment she was a gorgeous gazelle floating down the street.

I wonder how long she will get to stay that pretty.

The rims on the Honda Accord, a weird off-color pink that looked matte, were perhaps plastic?  Such strange rims that I almost wanted to stop a take a photograph of them, but I had places to be, babies to nanny.

The manicured lawn on Market at 41st.

It is so manicured, so pristine, and so tiny that I often think that it is astro turf and I frequently want to stop and touch it.

But then who’s crazy now?

Excuse, me sir, I am just touching your lawn to ascertain its reality, don’t mind me.

The block  between 19th and 20th streets on San Pablo.

The one that is anchored by two different liquor stores and some sort of grocery mart/ store that has a poorly written sign that I know is meant to be indicative of WIC being accepted at the Bodega, but the grammar is such that it looks like “vouchers for women and children good here”.

You mean I can give you a voucher and you’ll give me a woman?

Awesome.

Because that’s happening just a scant few steps down and I don’t think they know they can get the hook up at your store instead of soliciting it on the sidewalk or the gutter between parked cars.

The other signs on the street that amuse me/horrify me are these: Serenity Place, A Friendly Manor, and Victory House.

Ain’t no serenity happening here folks, keep on moving.

Today I saw a white man, probably in his mid-twenties wearing a full length camel-hair coat and aviator sunglasses circa 1978.

He was crashed into the side of the bus stop and was having a rapid conversation with, well, with whom I am not sure, there was no one else there, but the conversation looked brisk and intense.

There is Giant Burger, which is now Giant Burger and burritos?

I am not sure what is happening but slowly as the weeks have gone by in my travels through this neck of the woods, it appears to have a more and more Mexican slant to the menu.

There is ShugaHill, which seems to be a soul food restaurant that never is open.

And “Brother” which actually looks pretty damn good, and smells pretty fine.

I also like their sign which says, “We will deliver anywhere!”

I almost want to test that out.

There is the bridge I go under, either side amuck with garbage and depending on the day of the week, there are two pan handlers working it, either a young white woman, cannot be more than 22/23 years old, who seems to be wearing some sort of brown sack dress, and either dirty brown flip-flops or shredded black Vans, who panhandle’s on the off ramp from the highway on the tiniest meridian possible.

Her hair is also brown and lank and she does not yet have the coat of tan that indicates you have been homeless in the elements for a while.

Should she get cleaned up I bet she would look normal, just another girl on the side of the road begging for money to get her fix.

The other is the scrawniest black man, old, but I cannot tell how old, who works the other off-ramp and stands with a hand held out, no sign, next to a red painted metal shopping cart.  He is so still I often don’t realize there is a person there until I am past him and my mind registers what my eyes just saw.

Tonight I was late at the nanny job and I got to see the same strip from a vantage point that I don’t often get, dusky night ride.

I normally would head over to Rockridge and see some folks there about getting some medicine for what ails me, but tonight I was in between times and just needed to get back to Gracelandia before it was too late.

Thus I skipped straight to the commute and saw the same strip of land as night was falling and the crazy was calling.

The same strip where I want to paint a shazam sign on the side of a building saying, “SERENITY NOW!” was going off.

I mean off.

“Nigger get the fuck off me, bitch.”

There was a throw down happening between two women, indiscriminate age, fighting over what, I don’t know, but it was hot and on and people where coming from out of the proverbial wood work to see it go down, I nearly hit one old shuffling man with no shoes on, just some frayed socks, as he hustled from across the street to get a better look at the action.

One woman had grabbed the other woman’s hair and was whaling on her.

Whaling.

I was tempted to call the cops, but I just hustled through, there was enough ruckus happening that one of the stores would make the call, I am sure.

Especially since it was interrupting the brisk trade of beers in a bag sales that were happening.

Two blocks away.

Two white women, preening, yoga-fied, slick pony tails pulled back sleek and high, sat at an outdoor cafe eating salads.

Looked like arugula and figs.

Hard to tell.

Whipped by them, crossed through Frank Ogawa plaza up onto 14th then hit the Lake headed back to East Oakland.

Tonight I was not smacked on the ass, thank god, it would have freaked me out tonight, being as it was nightfall by the time I got back, but I was followed a couple of blocks rather too closely by a large truck.

I just ignored it and focused on riding.

I counted down the blocks as they went by and realized I was making extraordinary time.

36 minutes from door to door.

Not bad.

Especially as how it was such a colorful ride home.

Just Two Blocks Over

June 29, 2013

Maybe three.

And it’s a completely different neighborhood.

I suppose many places are like that, especially places where a lot of tourist go.

I don’t hang out much in the Haight, I don’t like tourists, and tonight was not much different.

I got to the house sitting gig after spending the day semi-checked out at Graceland.

There were small things I needed to attend to, laundry, a little shopping, taking care of the kittens, doing some writing, then I realized that I did not need to be in the city until 5pm and I wouldn’t need to be on a BART until 3:45/4pm and I had a lot of time to kill.

So I shot a few brain cells and watched some Netflix.

It is surreal to watch television during the day when you are not sick.

Although, technically, I am sick.

I have one of a few diseases that are self-diagnosible and I diagnosed one today.

I got the symptoms I do.

But I also have the cure and I reached out and checked in and did some crying and said yes I would be gentle with myself and that I did realize this, whatever this was, was only temporary.

I am not a big tough chick.

In case you were wondering, I am a fucking cream puff.

I get scared.

I just don’t show it.

And the strain of being scared has definitely been wearing me down.

The strain of not showing I am afraid is wearing me down just as quick.

I have been comfort eating, previously discussed ad nauseam so I am not going to go into it, comfort checking out, NetFlix you evil whore you, like I did not already have check out go to, but my room-mate has an astounding big wide-screen television with surround sound and a deep leather couch to stretch out on.

Check out central.

The road narrows they say.

“I can see it, I can see what is happening and I am getting spun out of it faster and faster and I can see how it does not work and I can’t stand that it does not work and that pisses me off, and, well, fuck.”

Yes, well fuck.

The things that once brought me fast acting relief stopped working–cocaine, beer, vodka, esctacy, mindless sex with strangers, speed, mushrooms, LSD, sugar, cigarettes, crack–and I can’t really go back to any of them.

“Look, I’d even let you stay on my couch for a week if you relapsed on crack,” one of my best friends told me last week, “I love you.”

That’s how we say I love you, I would let you stay on my couch a week.

“Then, well, I’d tell you to get the fuck out and get better,” he finished.

That is how we really say I love you and more than you know, I love you enough to support you until you can do it on your own, no free rides here sugar.

None of my check outs comes with a free ride, just to hell, just to a place of terror or confusion or disorientation, drama, adrenaline.

I realized last night riding my bike through the neighborhoods, good, bad, indifferent, really fucking bad (ok, what is up with this particular corner, just two blocks away is a fire department, which means, you know like people who are serious and have connection to the cops and such, just two blocks away from fire station and it is going off.  Off I say.  Yesterday on my way to work I saw a dwarf prostitute.

REALLY.

A fucking midget hooker.

Oakland, we got all your crazy crack needs right here.

Last night, it was just as wild, I got blown by an Escalade near off the road, blingety blinged out, and watched a pregnant hooker, that was not a distended belly from malnutrition, I think, work a corner, totter across the street to her john.

I also saw two cars lined up right in the middle of the intersection doing hand offs through the windows.

Just two blocks over.)  that maybe it was time to stop riding through the neighborhoods.

Maybe if I was that tense about it that it would just be a better idea to ride BART through Oakland, at least at night.  I am going to debate it.

Maybe that will relieve the scared little girl I forget I carry inside my brain who is clutching a very worn down stuffed bunny rabbit, poor thing as seen more than any child needs to see.

“You seem like a nice nanny,” she said to me at the park yesterday, “I like you, you got a lot of tattoos though, my uncle D, he got a lot of tattoos and he in prison.”

“NO he ain’t,” her little friend shot back, “D’Angelo just in jail, he aint’ in prison, he do got a lot of tattoos though, all up his back.”

“Oh, well, I don’t have any back pieces,” I smiled at the girls.

“Don’t get any more, you don’t want to wind up in prison,” the little girl concluded and scratched at her wrist where is disappeared under the dirty grey plaster cast that was up to her elbow.

“Ok,” I said, no need to tell her I always want more tattoos, I do want a back piece, but I don’t see a correlation to doing time, aside from the time it takes to lie still.

“How did you break your arm?” I asked.

“I fell,” she said, no more explanation.

“I broke my foot when I was your age, right during summer vacation, it sucks,” I said.

“You did?”

“Yup, I think I was about your age, you in second or third grade?” I asked.

“Gonna be in third!” She proudly exclaimed.

“I broke my foot summer between second and third grade, same timing,” I smiled, “it’s hard, but you don’t have to use crutches, so that’s good.”

“Yeah, I broke my other arm last year,” she said out of the blue.

I drew in a breath, oh baby, “how did you do that?”

“I fell.” Her eyes left mine and looked flat at the sky over my head.

I picked up my little girl a few things she likes today and said, listen this is it for the comfort, the adult me has got to get us back on track.  We can watch a few more shows then it’s back to reality time.

I walked back from Haight Street after going to the market and the temperature was dropping, the cool air from the ocean blowing in.

Just two and a half blocks from the tourist and the homeless kids trying to make the tourists, quiet, serene, peaceful, painted lady Victorians resplendent in their finery graciously curtsied up the street to where I am staying for the weekend.

I let myself in, turned on the television, said hello to the cats and settled in.

“I got a place,” I told my mom, “back in San Francisco I can’t wait, just two blocks from the beach and two blocks from Golden Gate Park.”

Just a few weeks left to go.

Hang on kiddo we can do this.

 

A “Relaxing Day”

May 30, 2013

At work.

Although it did not start out that way.

I got out of bed late.

Not way late, not so late that I would have to call a cab or jump BART.

Not that getting on BART is actually a time saver from here to North Oakland, it is about the same amount of commute time.

I still checked, just to make sure, just in case, maybe it would save me a few minutes of hurrying around this morning.

Nope.

I would get there faster on my bicycle.

So scurry it was.

Again, not a horrible scurry, just no time to do my morning writing.

I still got up, made the bed, did my other normal routines, got dressed, had breakfast, fed the cats inside and out and threw lunch and coffee fixings in my messenger bag.

That was the other thing, no time to make a pot of coffee.

Which is sad, but was necessary.

I dashed out the door with my bag full of food–lunch, dinner, and snack, notebook, extra almond milk for the eventual coffee, phone, two bike locks, keys.

I wheeled onto International Ave, blew one red light and then, no I did not slow down, but I slowed down.  I realized that getting there timely was not as important as getting there in one piece.

The world would not end if I was a few minutes late, but if I sped through too many intersections in my journey to be a perfect nanny, always on time, if not just a few minutes early, then my world may well come to an end.

I have too much to live for and have not come even close to doing it all yet for that.

I slowed my roll.

Not during the riding, but at every intersection, even putting my foot down to signal a stop at a few places.  Some intersections, yes, I rolled through, but I looked both ways and did it cautiously.  Some intersections I did not want to stop and settle waiting for the light, not as I was needing to be speedy, I was needing to keep my eye contact discreet.

There was some heavy dealing and prostituting going on this morning.

I thought maybe it was some residual left over from the long weekend, but damn Gina, it’s now Wednesday.  Time to slow your roll.

These are decisions, however, that have nothing to do with me and as I will continue to commute through these neighborhoods I don’t need to be casting a judging eye on what the populace is doing for work.

None of my business.

I am an observer though, and sometimes I cannot help but observe and sometimes my brain provides me with a funny soundtrack to go along with said observations.

“Not my choice of clothes for a morning stroll,” tight cheetah leggings and red broke down flip-flops.

“Welcome to the Friendly Manor,” read the sign, “a scary place to live,” my brain added as I rode past the number of drug deals going down, it was hopping at 10:30 a.m. around the shopping cart full of glass bottles.

It was cracking for sure.

“Not need to worry about being late,” my brain added as I arrived, four minutes early, tucked in my bike and went into the house.  Mom was taking care of business, dad was still in bathrobe and slippers and the little monkey was wearing, yes, monkey pajamas and eating scrambled “eggies”.

God I love this kid.

I have a thing for super smart little girls.

They make me happy to be a nanny.

Oh, I love my boys too, don’t get me wrong.

But I feel I have gotten to work with a couple of extraordinarily bright little ladies and I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of their little girl lives.

Today mom was working from home for part of the day and suggested we take the car and go up to Little Farm.

Little Farm!

Yay.

I was stoked at the idea, it had been awhile since I had gone and it would be a fun little field trip and a chance to be outside with one little monkey instead of three.  Plus, I felt a remiss for not having as much interaction with the little lady as I normally do, juggling three babies is not the most optimal for quality time.

It was just maintaining time yesterday.

So, we took the car and headed up in the Berkeley Hills to Tilden Park.

Little Farm really is just that, a miniature farm in the middle of the park.

Cows, goats, chickens, a couple of geese, a hutch of bunnies, a children’s garden, rams, pigs.  You are allowed to feed the animals, only celery and lettuce, but you get to interact and it is designed to let children get close to the animals.

My girl even got close enough to pet a cow.

Which peed instantaneously, I saw it coming before it hit the ground and was able to avoid the splatter, but man that was close.

The pitfalls of nannydom are that often times you will find yourself doused with urine or poo or mashed carrots on your tights or smashed Cheerios in your bra, or sand!  I have had sand in the bra a few times.

But I was not ready to have cow urine added to the list.

I danced nimbly away and we finished our visit by feeding the last of the celery to the long-tongued brown cows in a nearby pen.

It was a great field trip and she fell asleep promptly in the car.

I got lucky, she still went down for a nap and I also got a late message from the mom of the little boy they do a nanny share with, who said, no coverage needed today, see you tomorrow.

I wasn’t even miffed at the loss of pay, I was relieved actually, to have a nap time that was actually a restful time for me.

I reviewed some e-mails for my friend’s business, made some phone calls, and yes, even took a call from a friend over a very late in the day cup of coffee on the back porch in the sunshine.

It was a long day for me, worked a few extra hours to help out the mom who is busy with work, but it felt like a breeze after yesterday.

So much so, I actually still took her to the park after her nap.

The sun was out and I wanted to be outside in it.

I feel like my body is still recovering from the three baby fest of yesterday, but it was helped along by an “easy day” and I am grateful to be done with my blog, showered (I did not get cow urine on me, but the ladybug did douse me anyhow), and laundry ready to swap over to the dryer.

Heck, I might even watch an episode of So You Think You Can Dance.

Hold the commentary, my brain has already provided it.

 

 


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