Posts Tagged ‘Regina Specktor’


June 10, 2015

Ad infinitum.

At least I’m not crying anymore.

There were a few moments today when my brain sort of went bat shit crazy hay wired, “does not compute, does not compute, does not compute.”

I put my phone down on the kitchen table at work, face down, I couldn’t look at the message again.

Did I just read what I read?

What did it say?

I had tears streaming down my face.

I tried to stop.

Pause, take a bite of my lunch, I’ve only got so many minutes before quiet time is up and the oldest comes back from his doctor appointment and the mound of Lego’s still needs to be cleaned up.



Did I read that right?



Take it from the top.

I flipped over my phone and read it again.

Dear Carmen,

Congratulations! The Scholarship Team is pleased to inform you that you have been selected as a recipient of the CIIS Opportunity Scholarship beginning in the Fall 2015 Semester and ending in the Spring 2017

The CIIS Opportunity Scholarship is a tuition-only award. At the beginning of each semester, your tuition account will be credited. Any additional fees (including registration fees) are not covered by the scholarship. Please read the contract below for rules and regulations.

Opportunity scholarships are made possible by the generous gifts from various foundations and/or donors.  As a future follow-up, you may be contacted by our Development Office regarding which of these foundations and/or donors funded your scholarship. 

Again, congratulations on your scholarship and we wish you success in your academic endeavors.

Warmest regards,

I Chen

Director of Financial Aid

Financial Aid Office

I got the scholarship!

I got the scholarship!

I got the scholarship!


What the hell?

I re-read the e-mail, yes, it’s addressed to me, yes, that’s my name, but that’s not the scholarship I was directed to send in another essay to.

In fact.

Fuck me.

It’s better.

The scholarship I applied to was for the Diversity in Leadership Award.

Nothing to sneeze at, to be sure, one full year of tuition–i.e. two semesters–of school paid for.

This is different.

This is a scholarship of Opportunity.

Holy shit.

And it’s for two years, not one.

That’s four semesters of school that just got paid for.

Holy mother of God.

I just got two years paid for.

Two years.

“How are you going to pay for the third year, eh?” My deviant brain asked in a moment of blank when I was sitting in the chair in the kitchen, trying to divide my attention between the baby monitor, the clock on the wall, and my lunch which was rapidly cooling off.


Shaddup brain.

Bask for one fucking moment, can you please?

Crying is basking right?

I don’t know that it has really sunk in yet.

I mean, there’s a part of me that is still in awe that I am going to graduate school at all, that I got in, that they want me, that not only do they want me, they are willing to pay for me to go to school.

There will still be costs, I still have to pay registration fees, but you know, I can handle the $300 deposit fee I had to pay when I accepted placement into the program.

Seems a fair deal considering that a semester for the Master’s in Psychology program at CIIS is $1,018 per credit.  At twelve credits a semester, that’s a bit over $24,000.

Um yeah.

Oh my God.

I actually don’t know the exact bill for tuition.

It’s a little confusing, there’s a lot of numbers in teeny tiny print on the website page for tuition and fees.

I do get that the scholarship is only for tuition, it doesn’t cover additional fees, which it looks like I can see right from the website is going to be about another $1500 or so.


I’ll take it.

What it appears to me is that I just was gifted approximately $50,000 in tuition.

That means $50,000 I won’t have to pay back to student loans.

I still expect that I will have to take out a few loans here and there.

I am still living in San Francisco, I don’t suspect that the cost of living is about to go down any time soon, despite warnings of pending tech bubble bursting (I don’t really believe it, although I am not sure the city can withstand any more increasing rent hikes, I’m seeing too many people I care about and love get priced right out of living in San Francisco), I doubt that it’s going to cost any less than it does now to live in San Francisco.

I live a good life.

It’s not ostentatious.

I don’t own much.

What I have is enough and I am happy and grateful for it.

In spades.

But working full-time now, making what I make now, I am living at just the threshold of getting by.

I’m not paycheck to paycheck.

But I am every other paycheck to paycheck.

And if I want something, travel, a scooter, a new laptop, I have to save the money, I have to crunch my numbers and I must have a spending plan.

I get by, I do ok, but I don’t see not taking out some additional loan money.

I won’t be working full-time for the family, I already have thought about what I could do to pick up extra hours here and there to make sure that I get things covered, but I wasn’t expecting the discussion that happened when I brought the boys back from the park.

The mom wanted to know if they should be concerned, if I was going to want to cut back my hours since I got the scholarship.



Not at all, didn’t once cross my mind.

My biggest wish is to get through all three years of graduate school without having to take out any student loans.

Fuck man.

I’m still paying on my undergraduate degree thirteen years later.

Less debt is better.

And my student loan debt is the only debt I have.


I’m not going to be stupid, I will accept money for school, I don’t want to work full-time, I’m going to be busy with full-time graduate school work, doing the deal, and hopefully writing a blog or two once in a while.

I will not kill myself.

And enough with all that.

I am not here to be anxious.

I am not here to worry about the rug being pulled out from underneath me or not having enough.

I have enough.

I am enough.

I got two years of graduate school tuition paid for.

I think I done alright.


I’m going to grad school.

Jesus God.

I’m blown away.

I really am.

Thank you and you and you and definitely you over there for all your support and love and congratulations and sweet words, I did not do this alone.

I had a lot of help and I am so grateful for it.

So grateful.

I don’t have words.

Despite this rambling blog.

Now, excuse me, I need to go read that e-mail again.

You laugh until you cry/you cry until you laugh

                                          Then you take that love you make/and stick it into someone else’s heart


January 9, 2015

We all scattered.

I have never quite moved so fast.

I scooped the boys, the shoes, the stuff, flung it in the stroller and hustled out of the park.


I work in the overtly gentrified Mission, but folks, it’s still the fucking Mission.

It was too heavy a boom to be a gunshot, that sharp cracking sound that from afar sounds like “pop, pop, pop.”

No this sounded like a pipe bomb.

Not a muffler back firing.

What ever it was, it was enough to make almost all the nannies flee and a couple of the parents.

As I was on the phone to the dad a group of young teenage boys wheeled through the park.

That was enough for me, I didn’t need to know if it was a prank, a ball of firecrackers, or what, it was enough to motivate me to leave.

The Mission can be pretty and bucolic, but I have heard gunshots there, not so much of late, but they are there.

Plus, the whole guy going into the Mission police station and getting shot recently, I think the whole neighborhood has been just a tiny bit on edge.

I felt perhaps that I had over re-acted, but I am glad I reacted.

I err on the side of better safe than sorry.

I am a paid protector.

I am a nanny.

Hear me roar.

On occasion I roar at the other little beasties in the playground, because of the age range I am currently working with I have a bit more interaction with kids out of the toddler age and I see some bullies out there.

I won’t stand for it.

I keep myself to myself but if I see a kid push or hit or throw sand at my charges I intervene.

Yesterday there was a flock of poorly supervised kids and some of them were pushy with my boys and I bristled.

I admonished one group for flinging sand and retrieved some sand toys that had been misappropriated by the group.

I wanted to get all huffy and I had a moment of wonder at that.

Where were all the parents when I was playing?

I mean, I know where they were, they were doing what they do, but it sort of amazed me when I gave it a thought, I did not have the level of supervision the kids these days do.

I did not wear bicycle helmets, not that I do now, but every kid out there has a helmet on, for the bicycle, for the skateboard, for the scooter.

I don’t exactly disagree with these measures of safety, this is a far more urban landscape than the one I grew up in, but I am glad that I wasn’t so restricted in my movements when I was growing up.

There weren’t folks around telling us what to do or keeping an eye out.

There were not nannies where I grew up.

There were a few harried baby sitters in the neighborhood–I grew up in Section 8 housing on the North East side of Madison–and maybe a few teenage kids on the look out, but really not much supervision.

In fact, I was a baby sitter when I was in fifth grade.

I would not trust a child I dislike to a fifth grader.

Of course I was preternaturally inclined to be a care taker with my family dynamic being what it is, but still.

I also did  a lot of stuff that my mom might have had a heart attack if she had any idea.

Maybe that’s why I am a good nanny, I know the deal, I know what’s going down and I am hyper vigilant about the surroundings.

I realize that this means the majority of my life I have lived on high alert.

I don’t often relax.

I am a moving target.

It’s harder to hit a moving target you know.

As I get a bit older, somewhat wiser, and just a  little more honest with myself, I hope that I can let down that vigilance a notch.

Being newly coupled up I feel tender around this.

Like I may fuck things up by being myself.

Like I am that powerful, but that is where I go.

Better to over react by under reacting so that the bomb doesn’t explode in my face.

There is no bomb.

There is no shoe.

There is no spoon.

There is nothing there but the crazy making of an uncertain heart.

There are no problems.

Only opportunities to learn more about myself and be kind and gentle and forgiving and keep the focus on myself.

It doesn’t matter if it was a bomb.

I reacted like it was.

There’s a small town in my mind.

So I find myself opening up and inwards and outwards in moments like this, after I have tidied my place and set right the order and folded the laundry.

I reflect on the bicycle ride through the dark of the park and the sound of Lake Spreckles in my brain.

Doesn’t it sound like a great name for a root beer soda?

Spreckles Root beer.

And cherry cream soda and ginger brew.

Speckles Sparkles.

My brain rain ahead of me as the moon danced off the ripples of the lake, a bird rose up in the air, calling its heart out against the dark night and I was back on my bicycle instead of a soda shoppe on a date in the 1950s.

I breathed in the air and I could just catch the night-blooming magnolia on the other side of the water and my heart blew up.

There’s the bomb.

Know that true love exists,

the pain, the pain, the pain, of knowing that true love–


It has nothing to do with whom I am with.

Or what job I do.

I love.

I got a lot of extra hugs from the boys tonight and I acknowledge that it was a rocky day, it was a scary moment and I needed those hugs and I needed that bike ride, and I need to remember that the memories of riding my bicycle by myself around the parking lot of the North Port Town Houses, are just as sweet through the patina of memory as the bicycle ride I take now.

I will always be riding by myself, although never really by myself.

On my bicycle.

Without a helmet on.

Because I can’t protect myself from life.

But I can stand still for the love bomb.

The shrapnel is not sharp.

It is just the kiss of air drifting on the buttery moon.

Over the frothy root beer foam of lake water at night.

Kiss kiss.

Bang bang.

You Can Write

January 4, 2015

But you can’t edit.



It’s the small things.

The little things that I don’t let get in my way until they are overwhelmingly in my way and then the solution.

A tiny little step out into discomfort and the whole world opens up.

I’m being a bit oblique, I know.

Silly, isn’t it when I can’t speak my mind open and honest.

Ashamed, in fear, what will people think, like it’s any of my business, the process, showing up for it, doing it, living outside the vacuum of my room and my little wee laptop.

Not so wee, it’s obsolete as of oh, five minutes ago.

When this little lady dies, this is laptop is going to be buried lovingly and with ceremony in a special spot.

But until then, I’m going to ramble along on my keyboard, in my spot, with my music, yes, oh yes, my music.

I finally got that little cable thingy ma bob that connects my new iphone to my old ihome stereo box, you know, that other bit of technology that is obsolete–the ipod player.

I have been listening to the same 937 ish songs on that little machine for years now and for a while also on my iphone 4, but then, yes, I went where the cool kids go and I upgraded and now the little jack doesn’t fit the player.



I did it.

I got that cable and now, I’ve got my music on my phone, which is my music on my laptop which is a vast and theatrical compilation of many more songs and compilations and albums, and oh, Regina Spektor, you make my night, my lovely girl you.

I am distracted from the writing by the music which inspires the writing, which is, ah well, you perhaps know what I am saying, is distracting to the process because I am enjoying the music so much.



Be the artist.

Find your way back in my dear, dear friend.

I’m writing my way back in.

I finding my still point again and realizing that I have to commit to re-commit to the process of the writing and that I am not only allowed to do so, but I expect that have to do so.

“Write, Martines, write, write or you’re going to die,” he told me, oh, oh so many years ago.

So I picked up my pen with renewed vigor today and I said, fuck the audience, fuck the ideas, fuck the need to know why I am doing this, perpetually human, take it, take the gift and eat the fuck out of it.

I don’t know why I write.

Only that I have to.

Only that when I am doing so I am alive, I am the fulcrum, I am the glowing bunny night-light from the shop on Valencia street that the owner found in a boutique in the Marais district in Paris and that I have to spend $5.37 about every three weeks to replace the batteries too.

What am I saying?

I am a glowing night-light.

A bunny rabbit.

A light of creativity.

I am not grey.

I am not black.

I am a prospectus of light and color and I cannot deny that the color and light and the music rolls in the worlds of words that I live in.

I could be lonely and open and not alone, no, never alone, just open to the process.

The music, it almost drowns out the clack and click of my fingers on the keyboard and I break my own heart, yet again, to sieve through the painful remnants therein and see what it is that I need to pierce myself with so that I may once again bleed art.

I almost took out the pad and pen today and wrote the opening salvo to my letter of application to the graduate school I intend to be attending in the fall.

I end up writing about pain instead.

I took one of those tiny steps on the thousand mile journey, not toward graduate school, but toward this life, this path of life.

I strew the petty jealousy across the page.

I inventoried.

I wrote supplication prayers.

I wrote about humility.


I saw myself in a new light of clarity and asked for more, more perspective and light and growth.

And what do you know.

I got it.

It’s not pleasant to cry in front of people, nor is it exactly soul-stirring to let loose the waterworks in the front window of the Starbucks in Noe Valley at 24th and Sanchez, but I don’t get to choose where I cry.

I cry in bed.

I cry in the street.

I cry on my bicycle.

The tears they flow when I least expect or desire or want.

I fall asleep with the pillow wet and the darkness rides over the moon lit dunes and the light, so bright, wakes me, and I am awake to feel the ache, and I fall into prayer like a bumble bee heavy with pollen tumbling from the mouth of a Marguerite daisy.

Until I fall asleep again.

The circle continues, the cycle spins anew and I take a knee or two and I pray more and sing more under my breath the soft hum of love a kissing moth in my heart a flutter with dusty motes of sunshine breaking through the bamboo window shades on the back door of my studio.

The silvers of blue sky, the flash of raven wings over the back yard, the cut of the houses roofs and the smash of the waves on the sand, muffled by the pillow on my face and then, I move forward again.

I don’t know where this goes.

I don’t know the changes that need to be made, but they are being made for me, I just follow, follow, those tiny steps shown to me, outlined clear and dappled.

It’s like I am on the same fair ground ride again.

I just dropped another quarter in the rocket ship mouth and the sun sets over the Calliope and I tip my cap to the moon rising above the fairway.

And maybe the Myna Birds come on my little stereo now.

Or Tom Waits and the mood will shift.

To another track.

But not off the track.


I’m on track.

I’m writing.

I’m all in bitches.

I’m back.

I also have no idea what the hell I just wrote.

And it doesn’t matter.

I wrote.

That is all.

She wrote.

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