Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco’

Musings

July 17, 2022

From COVIDlandia.

And what I am hoping is my last day of quarantine.

The COVID test I took this morning showed the barest, faintest of lines.

I flirted with saying, I’m all good, and running out willy nilly.

But.

I figured one more day in quarantine and taking care to not infect others might be the ethical thing to do.

As opposed, to, oh, I don’t know, randomly licking people and running away saying, “I have COVID!”

I have these thoughts once in a while.

I did go outside briefly today, masked, of course, to go to my office and water my plants.

Oh.

Such sad plants.

I felt so bad.

Poor babies hadn’t been watered in nine days.

No one is at the office on the weekend, so I figured I was safe and I still wore my mask inside just in case and no one was there.

Just my sad little plants.

I gave them all a good watering and then shut the office back down.

Next week I will be doing all my sessions remotely, I figure, just be safe.

I don’t need to expose my suitemates to anything.

I do hope to test negative tomorrow.

I had a moment of thinking, ooh, I’ll go swimming tomorrow if I test negative.

Yeah.

I don’t know about that.

Sounds great, but considering the amount of congestion and aching lungs I have experienced over the past nine days, maybe swimming laps is not the course of action to take on my first day back into the world.

I’ll get up and stretch again and do minimalist yoga.

I’ll go for a walk.

I’ll prep food for the week.

I will dream about all things Burning Man.

Yeah.

That thing.

I am going.

I haven’t really written about it.

I’ve been tied up with all things FINISH YOUR FUCKING DISSERTATION.

I mean.

It’s finished, I mean, finish jumping through the hoops that your school forgot to tell you to do even though they approved you to graduate.

Oh.

You’re missing something and we forgot to tell you?

OOPS.

I mean.

The profound apology from the provost helped, but like, dude, I’ve not actually graduated yet.

Which is also why Burning Man is on my mind.

I “graduate” eye roll, at the end of summer.

That is when I will officially matriculate.

I returned the dissertation with the few edits that the writing center indicated needed to be done; for the pain in the ass y’all have been, you could have just fucking fixed them and moved it along, in 274 pages there were five things that needed to be attended to.

Anyway.

I’ll be connecting with the guy at the center who is the last gate keeper to getting it published on ProQuest on Monday.

Pending his final stamp of approval I will then upload it and that’s it.

It will get published and I will matriculate.

At the end of summer.

Which means.

I get to graduate.

Again.

And this time.

I’m going to do it my way.

At Burning Man.

Yeah.

Where my graduate school journey started back in 2014 when I had a dark night of the soul.

I left Burning Man that year distinctly altered.

I quit the job I had been working.

Got a different one.

And applied to graduate school to get my Master’s in Psychology.

I got in and started in the fall of 2015.

I managed to go to the event in 2015, 2016, and 2017–somehow figuring out how to balance full-time nanny job with full-time graduate school.

I graduate from my Master’s program in May of 2018 and went right into my PhD program in August of 2018.

I could not manage the event whilst doing my PhD program.

My first year missing the event since I started to go in 2007.

I mean.

I managed to go even when I moved to Paris.

I still do not know how that happened.

But my PhD program started each semester with a week long intensive and it was the same week as the event and the amount of work that I had to do to get ready for the intensive was too much for me to even think about going up pre-event.

The year I went in 2016 I didn’t even go for the event, I was up for in the desert for four days and left before the gates even opened.

The PhD work was too much.

Not to mention working full time, plus.

So, I missed 2018 and 2019.

And then the pandemic.

Knocking out 2020 and2021.

Although I had people who asked if I would consider going to “Plan B” the unofficial event last year, you know that one that was not sanctioned by the org, wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

But.

I was too close to defending my dissertation, I had also just had the first of my two major surgeries, and it was too much.

This year I had been prepared to go months ago.

I was going to help run and manage a kitchen on playa for an art project a dear friend of mine is builidng.

But an unexpected tax bill, what the fuck accountant?!

And the looming paying back of student loans dissuaded me.

I hung up my apron and prepared to sadly not go.

Except.

Well.

There was this day three weeks ago, a month ago, I don’t know, time is wonky for me still, when it was hot out.

Like hot.

Like 93 F.

San Francisco rarely gets hot.

Even now, in the middle of July, I am wearing a hoodie, and it’s not because I have COVID, it’s because I live in San Francisco and fog.

But it got hot that day.

I remember a couple of last minute client cancellations led me to having a leisurely lunch and left enough time for me to go for a long walk.

Without a sweatshirt.

Without layers.

In a sundress.

And bare legs, I wasn’t even wearing leggings.

Oh my, my, my.

Speaking my fucking language.

Only thing about summers in Wisconsin I really miss–warm nights without having to wear layers, sundresses all day long, hair upswept in a messy bun, humid wind kissing your skin.

Sigh.

This day in SF wasn’t like that.

It was more like Burning Man.

Hot.

Dry.

Warm wind.

I was walking down Laguna crossing Fulton, and I was just drenched in sun and hot wind and I sighed, “oh, this feels o good.”

“Just like Burning Man,” a little voice in my heart whispered.

And like that.

Like that.

I decided to go.

I reached out to a bunch of folks.

I asked after tickets.

I received more than a few offers.

Some of which I couldn’t quite comply with the asks, pre-burn, build week, nannying, work duties, etc.

But one of them I could take and so I did.

And like that.

I had a ticket.

And plans began to brew and things began to fall into place.

Like fast.

Sometimes when I know that I’m supposed to do something, everything just falls into place.

If it’s meant to be you can’t fuck it up.

If it’s not meant to be you can’t manipulate it into happening.

This was definitely meant to be.

And although the loss of revenue missing a week of work being sick with COVID has definitely stung, it hasn’t made it impossible.

My ticket is paid for and my vehicle pass and I’m accruing all the gear that I need.

And maybe a few flowers to stick in my hair.

Like you do.

Or, ahem, like I do.

I got some boots, a new black out tent, a folding camp rocking chair, a new cooler, a new parasol, a new bicycle (I miss my old steed, I was looking at old phots of the event and I will miss that ride, but hopefully my new bike will be up to muster), a new queen size air mattress.

I’ve rented a cargo van with a friend that will be traveling in from Utah and I’ll be picking him up in Reno.

He’s got stuff in SF that I will bring up for him, so right now we are splitting costs on the rental.

I almost thought about stuffing my little Fiat with all my things, mounting a bicycle rack on the roof.

But.

Ahem.

A girl likes her clothes.

And also, unobstructed views whilst driving.

So.

I agreed to the van.

Which I think will actually come nicely in handy.

Provide some shade for my tent as well as be a place to hole up in if there is a dust storm.

And plenty of space for my friend’s gear, plus another if we wanted.

Originally a mutual friend from Marin was going to ride up with me, but he’s bailed.

In all the preparing and list writing and chatting with a good friend of mine who has graciously accepted to take care of my cats, I suddenly had an idea.

Perhaps it was a vestige of COVID fever, perhaps divine inspiration.

I realized, huh, if I matriculate at the end of summer, that means I’ll be “graduating” on playa.

HOLY SHIT.

I can have a graduation party.

At the best party in the whole fucking world.

With all the friends I couldn’t have come to my graduation.

Because I was only allowed three people at my weird ass hybrid zoom graduation reception at my school in May.

I contacted my dear friend with the art project and he’s going to help me plan a ceremony at his art piece!

I’m going to graduate on playa.

I am also going to walk in my full PhD regalia–robe, funny hat with the pom, and my hood.

Oh yeah.

Then I am going to burn it at the Temple and leave the institution behind and move into whatever next phase of life I am supposed to be having.

This year is special too as it marks my 20 year anniversary of moving from Madison, Wisconsin to San Francisco.

My best friend from Wisconsin rode shot gun with me in my little two door Honda Accord packed to the gills, rode I-80 all the way to the Bay back in 2002.

We were gassing up in Nevada getting ready to go through the Sierra’s and she said, looking at some dirty hippy with literally a cardboard sign, begging for a ride to Burning Man on the exit ramp to the gas station, “we should go.”

“Where?” I asked, toggling the nozzle of the gas pump to get every last precious drop into my tank.

“Burning Man,” she replied.

I looked at my car, stuffed full of my life and the soft pack of a super sized duffle strapped to the top and thought, no fucking way am I taking all that I own out to the desert in this car.

I laughed and got back in the car and we started to drive towards Tahoe.

My friend tried one more time to convince me, “this might be my last chance to go!”

______________ “I’m not going, it’s impossible, I can’t take my car out there with all my stuff, and I have to pick up the keys to my sublet in the Mission,” I replied.

And then I remember pausing and thinking, how do you know about Burning Man?

I had read about it in a 1995 issue of Spin magazine.

And yeah, I was definitely down with going, just not right then.

“What do you think Burning Man is?” I queried my friend.

“It’s a radical feminist movement where they BURN THE MAN!”

If I could have fallen out of my seat laughing I would have.

In some ways, my friend is actually right, Larry Harvey and all that he is and that they burn a man, yeah, but there is a very heavy lift that the women in the organization have done quietly behind the scenes for a long time.

Believe me.

I have seen some things.

Anyway.

We did not go that year.

But every since I started going, my friend gives me shit, that she missed her time.

She wasn’t wrong.

She got pregnant just after leaving San Francisco, literally that weekend, and then had three boys.

One who just graduated from highschool.

What the hell?

And here I am, almost 20 years later, all excited about going out to that thing in the desert again.

Where I will graduate into my next level of life.

Or just have a quiet spiritual experience while I ride my bike far out into the edges of the playa to look at the stars.

Who knows where this life is going to take me next.

But I’m down for it.

I’ll be there.

With flowers in my hair.

Seriously.

And maybe a glow stick.

Heh.

Slow it down

June 21, 2022

Whelp.

I might have been ready to buy a house.

But the bank ain’t.

Oh well.

And actually.

Some relief.

It felt like it was moving a touch too fast.

I was beginning to feel anxiety about client’s cancelling and am I bringing in enough and how much is a mortgage payment going to be?

OH.

That’s a lot.

And fuck.

I better secure some more clients.

And shit.

I need to publish a book and can someone bequeath me some money.

I don’t really play the lotto, but maybe I better start.

Fun things the brain likes to cook up.

But, as it turns out, I am not in a position to buy anything.

This year.

I had a meeting, phone meeting, with the mortgage broker my real estate agent suggested.

And he was very clear.

Nothing to do here.

No bank is going to touch me.

I’m self-employed.

I need two years of stable income.

It’s not that I’m a risk per se, but that banks are very hesitant to loan money to the person who doesn’t have a proven track record of making money.

Cool.

I get that.

So the agent said, you appear to make enough and continue to make this much and you should be fine to get a loan.

Next year.

So.

The project is on hold and I’m not going anywhere.

Unless, yeah, some long lost relative has some money for me.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

That’s so not happening.

Anyway.

I actually felt a lot of relief when that happened, the mortgage broker saying, not this year and I’ll contact you about this time next year and then we’ll talk.

Gave me a reprieve.

Gave me some relief.

It’s not off the radar, but it’s some ways out.

And of course, time moves quick at my age, next year will be here before I know it.

Still.

Being able to take my foot off the gas and recognize that I don’t have to suddenly work more when I already work a lot, was a relief.

And.

Summer’s tough.

Folks travel.

I’ve had a lot of cancellations with people traveling.

And I’m ok with that.

There are still new clients coming in, I have a consultation tomorrow.

I picked up a new client last week.

Turn over happens.

That’s a part of my business.

Faith that things will move and taking the necessary actions and letting go, gently, of the results, is the best way forward with me.

I also hit up the MOHCD first time buyers program zoom.

Mayors Office of Housing and Community Development.

I had thought I had a chance at some of the loan programs they offer first time buyers.

And nope.

I don’t.

The city counts gross income.

EVEN for someone who is self-employed.

So it doesn’t matter that my business eats about half of what I make, the city will count all of what the business brings in.

Sigh.

So.

I make too much money.

Funny that.

Not quite enough money in some eyes and too much in others.

I did at least save a little time and exited the zoom early when I learned that piece of information.

I looked about my apartment, it’s a sweet little space, and I realized, hmm, I have plenty, I have more than enough.

I live a lovely life.

I have two cute cats.

I have a business that I run and own.

Literally.

I am an SCorp.

Well, my business is an SCorp.

I actually have 1,000 shares if you are interested in investing.

Not that I would ever go public.

Not that I even know if that’s an option.

Totally no clue, but yeah, my accountant filed the paper work for me, my business, to become a corporation rather than a sole proprietor.

Cool.

I have no idea what it means, except, that ultimately it’s supposed to save me some tax dollars.

Ok.

A lot of this is over my head.

I don’t know anyone in my family that is a business owner.

This is all unfamiliar territory.

But there are perks, so many.

I call my shots.

I schedule myself.

I still am loving the off on Fridays gig.

I love my job, that helps so much.

I am grateful for all the other jobs I’ve had as well, they have all served in one way or another–taught me how to listen, how to care take of others, how to watch for cues in the environment, having an open door policy when I was management in the service industry, all the confidences I have held over the years.

It all added up.

I shared with someone recently, that I have been groomed to be a therapist, I was built to be one.

I am grateful for it all.

It hasn’t been easy.

No.

Not at all.

But.

It has been beautiful.

And for that I am grateful.

And that house that I have built to reside in, the corporeal one this soul inhabits.

Well.

It’s damn solid and I am content.

So much so.

A house can wait.

My home is already secured.

I’d Like to Buy a House

June 13, 2022

I would say, with some glee, as I forked over a spate of pastel colored pieces of Monopoly money. I liked to slowly developed my prime real estate, keeping a few dollars back in case I landed on someone else’s quick built up into hotels.

I preferred the green properties on the Monopoly board.

Not quite the same high end prices as Boardwalk, but nice places, chi chi.

“You’re just like San Francisco,” I was told once in passing, “you used to be hipster and now you’re bougie.”

Ahem.

I was both annoyed and flattered.

It’s kind of true.

I can’t tell you when the last time I went out for a ride on my flip flop one speed Mission Bicycle, although I could if I looked at my social a bit, I do tend to document when I go for rides now.

I call them “bike’ies” instead of “selfies”.

Just my bike leaned up against some cool street art.

I have a lot of those from when I lived in Paris in 2012 and 2013.

These days, not as many.

I tend to walk everywhere.

Yes, I do have a car, but, um, when you score a good spot in your hood and don’t have to move it for street parking until Friday, you, I mean, I, walk everywhere.

I did take the car out today, early this afternoon.

I went to an open house.

I guess this is when the bougie piece comes in.

Sort of.

I do actually want to buy a house.

I always have, but I never really thought that it would be possible.

Until recently.

I had a talk a few years back with a woman I know who is a realtor and helped a mutual friend buy a house.

I knew how much said mutual friend was making and thought, huh, I wonder, when I get into my private practice, I might be able to swing that.

So I had coffee with the realtor and told her my deal and that I was years out, but intrigued.

She told me to get a credit card.

Which I did not want to do, but build up your credit was the advice I was given.

Before I got sober I burned my credit to the ground and it was bad news bears getting out of that financial hole.

But I did.

And I swore, no more credit cards, ever.

NO.

But, the realtor was convincing, and I knew a few folks who used their cards wisely, paid them off immediately, and built credit whilst also getting airline miles.

Huh.

I could do that.

And, do that I did.

In fact, that’s how I flew to Hawaii in February.

Airline miles on a credit card.

I actually flew first class, I had a lot of miles accrued.

It was so worth it and my credit score has gone up significantly.

I don’t keep a balance, ever on my cards, yeah, cards, I now have two.

One is Alaska Airlines for flying to Hawaii and the other is Air France, for flying to Paris.

I’ll be able to fly free the next time I go to Paris, well, not the trip I have booked December, I already bought that, but the next time.

You know there will always be a next time I fly to Paris.

Anyway.

I have great credit.

My car is payed off, I have no credit card debt, and though, yes, I do have a ton of student loan debt, I have started paying it down.

So.

Yeah.

757 is my score and that’s considered “good” to “excellent.”

Rewind a few weeks back to hearing from a couple of people about their house buying adventures and I thought, huh, you know, I wonder.

I texted that realtor from a few years a go and we had coffee last Friday.

She thinks I can.

We started mapping things out.

I have done some research.

I have looked at a lot of things on Zillow and Bay Area Modern Homes.

A LOT.

My eyes are kind of bugged out from looking.

I’m awaiting a call back from a mortgage broker to discuss my situation and I talked with my accountant this past week.

I don’t make an enormous amount of money, but my business is doing well and as my accountant noted, my income is very stable.

I don’t personally make what my business makes, basically I take home about half of what I make.

But that’s enough.

And it’s also not a lot, by San Francisco standards, and as it turns out I make under the cut off for the Below Housing Market in the city.

I’m not interested in a ton of those homes, but I am interested in some of the first time buyer loan programs the city has.

So next Saturday I’m going to sit through a two hour Zoom workshop and take the next steps to move forward to do the work and paperwork for the city to help with a loan.

I’m excited.

Today I went to my first open house!

It was perfect.

And not quite.

The view made me super happy, but it didn’t have much closet space and it had some dingy ass carpet in the bedroom, not my style, carpet.

But oh, the view.

Stunning.

And lots and lots of light.

Which is what I really want.

Give me light!

I’m looking at industrial lofts in the city.

I like how they look.

I always have.

Polished cement floors, exposed beams, concrete, big warehouse windows.

Something Southern and/or Western facing, a corner unit please.

Which is what this loft was.

The view of Twin Peaks was fantastic.

I want to stay on “this side” of Twin Peaks.

I served my time out in the fog and I want to be on the “sunny side” of the city.

The loft was on Bryant Street in the Mission.

18th and Bryant.

A neighborhood I know very well.

I lived just a few blocks over when I first moved to San Francisco, at 20th and York.

I would day dream about a loft conversion that was happening down the block, not the one I saw today, but actually quite close, and imagine one day living there.

I told the realtor I’m working with, maybe it’s crazy.

But.

I’d love to move on Labor Day weekend.

It will mark my 20 year anniversary of moving from Madison, Wisconsin, to the Mission District in San Francisco.

When I had a two month sublet, no job lined up, about 2k in savings, and a used two door Honda Accord (that I donated two weeks later after accruing six parking tickets) with my life packed into it.

How smashingly cool would it be to land myself in a loft, in the Mission, 20 years later?

Pretty fucking cool.

I can’t know what’s going to happen.

I’m not sitting on a big nest egg–I spent that on my surgeries last year, thinking I was giving up on the idea of buying a house.

But, I do feel like it’s possible.

Anything’s possible.

Right?

I got a PhD, my own psycho-therapy business, a car, I mean.

Fuck.

I have come a long, long, long way from juggling three to four to five jobs, and riding all over the city on my one speed to get from one gig to the next.

Hey, Mister Banker Man, I want to buy a house.

This girl’s got a dream.

Let’s make it happen!

Seriously.

I’m Moving in June!

April 4, 2022

He said to me with great vehemence.

Standing a few steps above me, holding his room mate’s cat.

Said cat had darted out from his apartment when he opened the door after I had been incessantly ringing the doorbell. It was my second time trying to get the music to stop last night–the first time one of his friends had pulled back the curtain on the window in the door and waved at me, then went back upstairs–and snuck past me to say hello to my cats.

Ziggy hissed at him, Bunny looked like she was seeing the Creature From the Black Lagoon–every hair on her was at attention, she looked like a gigantic white puffer fish.

I shooed the cat out of my apartment and he scooped her up.

I think holding the cat was helpful for DJ Douche Bag.

Who, in times of feeling generous I now call DJ Bob to my friends.

(I mean, I was young and stupid once too)

Or clients.

“Is that music coming from your house?” A client asked me last week on a video call.

“Nope. That,” I said, “is from the neighbor upstairs, DJ Bob, likes to play a lot bass heavy music.”

“Wow,” my client replied, “that must be really loud.”

Yeah.

REALLY fucking loud.

Last week was kind of terrorizing for me, as far as DJ Bob goes, he was day time retaliating for me calling the cops on his party.

Let me back track a little.

Last week I ran into the master tenant, who I rarely see, and who has assiduously avoided me, only castigating me to the landlord and accusing me to the landlord of making false claims–the landlord has forwarded her emails and his responses to me to see, that there is in fact no music.

There is no there there.

Which made me livid.

I mean.

I am not hearing things.

Nor are all of the many guests that have come over and been agog at how loud it is.

I don’t like being gas lit.

And gas lighting was what she was doing.

So when I saw her come in I opened my door, and said, “hey S_______________, “hey! S_____________” we need to talk about DJ Bob (not his name, duh).

And I explained to her that once again the music was being played quite late, had been despite my best efforts to get it to stop, ringing the door bell, etc. continuing to be played well past the 10p.m. noise ordinance cut off.

And the master tenant looked at me and said, “I was home last night and there was no music being played.”

I was a-fucking-ghast.

What the fuckity fuck bitch?

I replied, yes there was, I heard it, it kept me up, I rang the bell, numerous times. You didn’t hear me ringing the bell?

No, master tenant replied.

Well, I rang it a lot last night. DJ Bob was playing quite late.

Master tenant replied, no he didn’t, he’s not here. There was no music being played last night.

OMG.

Fuck you hooker.

You are gas lighting me.

I replied, well, perhaps DJ Bob wasn’t there, but someone was in his room, someone was playing music, there were loads of people in and out and when I rang the bell I could here the music from the side walk and saw someone standing in front of the window (they are big bay windows) wearing headphones and there were people dancing behind him.

Master tenant said again, DJ Bob’s not here, there was no music being played.

I repeated that there was and that it respectfully needed to be turned off at 10p.m. as per the noise ordinance, please tell DJ Bob to adhere to that.

He’s not here, master tenant said and went inside.

I cannot even begin to tell you how mad I was.

MAD, mad I tell you!

I heard her go upstairs and bang on a door but that’s it.

Then I heard the music, faint, but just there.

And I thought, huh, DJ Bob’s not home, eh?

I went out the back door to my apartment and up the back stairs and every step I took up the music got louder.

Until I was at the roof.

By the way.

I’ve never been on the roof.

But guess what?

DJ Bob has.

There he was, headphones on, back to me wearing his purple sweatshirt, bobbing his head, surrounded by folks drinking and smoking and dancing.

Fuck my life.

This is an Art Deco historic building with a god damn tar paper roof, that managed to not get razed in the earthquake and subsequent fire of 1851 here in San Francisco.

You’re gonna set the damn building on fire.

Or one of your intoxicated friends is going to stumble off the top of a three story building and fall into the street.

I started taking pictures-DJ Bob, the table with the turntables and mixers, the chairs, the liquor bottles lined up on the edge of the roof, the speakers, the people smoking.

All of it.

I was going to take a video but someone gave me a weird look and I got spooked and headed back down stairs.

I went to my silver glitter folder on my desk and pulled out my lease.

(of course I keep my lease in a silver glitter folder)

Wasn’t there something about the roof mentioned in the lease?

Ah.

Indeed.

There it is.

I sent the landlord an email:

Dear (redacted–landlord)

There’s a party occurring at this moment on the roof of the building. Smoking, drinking, DJ sound system. Last night I was once again put in the position of requesting the music be turned down in unit ____. First at 11:30p.m. and then upon being woken up by the music in unit ___ at 1:30a.m. I rang the bell multiple times until the music stopped. 

I just spoke with (redacted) who denied that there was any music being played last night (as she was home) and that once again,(redacted) is not at home. This may be true, however, there is high foot traffic in and out of the room, especially on the weekends–some one and oftentimes, multitudes of people are in the room. Last weekend at 3:30a.m. Sunday morning I rang the bell and a man who was not (redacted) or (redacted) came down and peered out the window curtain after I’d rang the bell and without opening it said he’d turn off the music. I’m not hallucinating being woken up by music and I am furious at being put in the position of defending myself and my experience. 

Today is not the first time there’s been music and partying on the roof, but it is the first time I have investigated it. This party is in direct violation of item number 14.) on the lease regarding Nuisance; number 17.) Regarding smoking in common spaces; and most especially number 21.) Roof/Fire escape (Use of roof and/or the fire escapes by Tenant, tenant’s guests, or tenant’s ivitess is limited to emergency egress only. No other use is permitted, including but not limited to , the placement of personal property.)  You can see from the photos that there is alcohol, alcohol bottles, a table set up, speakers, and other property on the roof. There are people dancing, smoking, and drinking.

Please address these matters. I am bewildered by how long this has been going on.

Warm regards,

(Redacted, PhD, LMFT)

Within minutes I got the following response:

“Please call the cops! NO one is allowed on the roof.”

So.

I called the cops.

Cops came.

Party ended.

Sort of.

Party went to DJ Bob’s room with a fucking vengance.

Fucking hell, this is exhausting I thought to myself.

But I was on a tear.

I went outside and I took some photos.

Then I sent the master tenant an email:

Dear (redacted–master tenant)

I thought I would reach out after our conversation today and let you know that there are a number of folks currently in (Redacted)’s room, there’s a dj spinning in the front window, folks dancing, there’s a lot of foot traffic coming into the apartment, I just ran into a couple of girls now heading into the apartment. There’s quite loud music being played. I’m sending this message now in the hopes that you will address your flatmate and stop the music at 10p.m. 

I’m again requesting that you and your flatmates adhere to the noise ordinance.  Attached you will find some photos of an active DJ in the front window of (Redacted)’s room and a great deal of musical equipment set up. These are photos I just took moments ago.

I am dismayed to always have my experience challenged in regards to the noise. It feels like I am being gas lit when I am told there is no music being played. I would like to invite you to check in with your flatmates about the frequency of people coming through the apartment and again ask that the music be turned off at 10p.m. and not resumed later in the evenings or early mornings.

I will be cc’ing (redacted–the landlord) this message as well as the photos.

Please let me know if you have any questions or would like to have a chat in person. I would like to resolve this amicably and I am more than willing to do a mediation with you, (redacted), and (redacted); either  with (redacted–the landlord) or the SF Community Boards.

Warm regards,

(redacted, PhD, LMFT)

The music stopped at 10:01pm

Fucking thank Christ.

And though it’s been rough during the day all this past week, the music has ended at 10p.m. every night.

Until.

Last night.

Cue DJ Bob on the stairs sweating and holding master tenant’s cat.

I realized pretty quick that he was high and that I was likely not going to get anywhere.

But.

I tried.

Basically, without going word for word, DJ Bob yelled over my calm voice that no one else complained, that when he goes to his friends house and plays til 7a.m. (!!) no one complains, that it is Saturday and he has friends visiting (from Italy, DJ Bob is Italian) and he’s going to play until 11 p.m. when they are going out.

I tried to reason and mentioned the noise ordinance was every day of the week and Saturday was no exception, but got ran over and he kept babbling at me about cops and no one else complains and the street noise.

I raised my voice a little and said, the street noise is not the issue, this is an old building and I feel like I am inside a bass drum, I can’t get away from it, I can hear it in every room of my apartment.

And.

That he was risking the master tenants lease with violating the noise ordinance.

And he shot back that I was threatening the master tenant and that anyway,

I’M MOVING IN JUNE!

Well, fucking thank God.

And.

I’M NOT TURNING OFF THE MUSIC AND MY FRIENDS ARE VISITING FROM OUT OF TOWN AND I’M ONLY PLAYING IT UNTIL 11P.M. AND NO ONE ELSE IS COMPLAINING.

And he ran up the steps in his dirty jeans and sweatshirt with the cat and slammed the door.

And he played the music until 11:30p.m.

Fucker.

So I emailed the landlord again.

Dear (redacted–landlord)

I have just spoken with (redacted) directly and he refuses to turn down the music–“I have friends in from out of town and I will be playing the music until we leave at 11p.m.” I have called the police on multiple occasions now and they either get here well after the music has abated or he sees them coming from the room and stops; thereby triggering a “false complaint.”

I am beyond exhausted by this. I cannot spend my time trying to constantly rationalize with this young man. I can only appeal at this point to you as the landlord.

I need this to cease or I will be leaving the apartment. I pay my rent early, I am quiet, I am respectful and I am an adult trying to explain to a young man who is often intoxicated why this behavior is intolerable. My email to (redacted–master tenant) regarding mediation was unaddressed and I received no response.

I am not a conflictual person but after the interaction I just had with him and his refusal to turn off the music at 10p.m. I am pretty much done.  Either this behavior is dealt with or I will be giving my notice.

Sincerely,

(redacted, PhD, LMFT)

Then I called a dear friend to talk to until the music stopped and I could go to bed.

It’s been exhausting dealing with this.

And.

Please, God.

Hopefully it will be done soon as DJ Bob moves out in June.

Fingers crossed, out to a large, abandoned warehouse in the East Bay in a deserted light industrial neighborhood.

I didn’t express to the landlord the DJ Bob was moving in June as I wanted to convey my need for his intervention as soon as possible.

My worry is that DJ Bob will relentlessly spin his records at full volume until June and I don’t know that I can handle two more months of it.

So, fingers crossed.

I haven’t heard from my landlord, but I am hoping that the master tenant and DJ Bob have.

So far, at 8:09 p.m…..

All is quiet.

Maybe DJ Bob is still recovering from last night, he came in at 5:30a.m., slammed the gate, slammed the door to his apartment and stomped up the stairs.

I, of course, was awakened by the noise as my apartment is on the first floor right by the gate.

I waited with bated breath to hear if the music would go on.

Please God let me sleep.

And I did.

Until 7a.m. when my brain woke me up cheerfully and said, let’s go for a swim.

Which I did.

But not before quietly contemplating turning on my music full blast and leaving it on.

I didn’t.

I just thought about it.

There’s been no music so far today, outside of my own, and I do hope that continues.

If not.

June’s only what?

59 days away.

Sigh.

Baby Steps

March 8, 2022

I had an in person session today at my office.

It was good.

It was also good to actually meet this client in person as we have never met in person before.

They started with me during the first shelter in place lock down.

I am coming up on the anniversary of that event.

And having some anniversary feelings.

I remember well the week prior, two years ago, things were playing out in the on again off again relationship I had been desperately trying to figure out for years.

Not playing out well, in the end, that relationship ended.

I still have pangs over that.

Why didn’t he figure it out?

Why couldn’t we make it work?

Why?

Why, I am always reminded is not a spiritual question.

It doesn’t help and knowing why is some sort of balm my brain wants to have to explain away the inexplicable.

It just was.

It just couldn’t work.

I just didn’t work.

And no matter how hard I tried I only got hurt.

I have been thinking a lot about relationships, dating, who I am, what I want.

In some persistent way I have always stowed away this thought of marriage, commitment, partnership.

Yet.

I have never really gotten close.

Despite a former “semi” proposal when I was in my mid-twenties from my one and only really “long term” relationship.

Is five years a long term relationship?

Anyway.

Why marriage?

Why partnership?

Wearing a dress, having a ceremony?

Societal expectations?

Family expectations?

My expectations?

Expectations typically lead to resentments.

I do crave company and touch and physical connection, I’m not going to deny that; but historically marriage is actually not great for women.

In a heteronormative marriage that is.

They work more, care take more, do more of the household labor.

Men actually statistically reap huge benefits being married.

Women not so much.

So why do I want it?

When I think about what I want I think about the physical connection of being with a man, I like closeness and, I hate the fucking wording of this, one of my “love languages” is non-sexual physical touch.

I’m cuddly.

Which the last guy I dated did not provide.

I love sex.

Don’t get me wrong, sex is definitely still a need, that drive is still there at 49, and may it be for some time thank you very much, although a touch softer of a demand then it used to be.

But affection.

I crave affection.

Hand holding, massage, leaning into someone, having my head rubbed.

Sigh.

But does that have to preclude being married?

I mean.

I might be putting the cart before the horse.

Am I shutting myself down from potential connection thinking better do it for the long haul?

Also.

What do I need from a partnership that I’m not already giving myself?

I love to travel, I love my home, I have a great space (when it’s not being invaded by the sonic intrusion of DJ Douche Bag upstairs), I don’t share it with anyone.

Well.

My cats.

They do think they own everything.

I keep my space the way I like it.

I have my schedule the way I like it.

I do my own thing.

What do I think I am missing out on?

What if I wasn’t missing out on anything?

I think some of this is just being really comfortable with my life and starting to find a nicer balance now that I’m not in the PhD mode all the time and have gotten a modicum of space from the last surgery I had and some decent recovery in my body.

Also.

Thank God.

My back is feeling much better.

A very easy weekend, lots of rest, lots of heating pad.

I’m actually using the heating pad right now too.

It is just nice after my day at the office.

I still need to dial a few things in there.

I’m going to pop over to Black & Gold on Valencia and pick up a vintage coat rack I’ve been eye-balling for months.

I could use an alternative set up chargers for my MacBook and a small extension cord by my desk for all the things I need plugged in–not all of my sessions are in person, I still am doing plenty, the majority of my session via video.

And one more hanging plant for my office.

But other than that, it’s such a sweet, welcoming space and I was happy to be there in my sessions today.

I ran five, only one was in person, from my office and one from home this morning.

Tomorrow I will be at home fully, all my sessions are remote.

I will be going in again on Thursday as I have a client that wants to be coming back in person.

This client was one of the last, although not the last, clients I saw in person prior to lock down.

It will have been two years.

I’m so grateful for this small baby step into a different experience with therapy and seeing my clients.

It’s not “back to normal”.

I don’t know if it’s the new normal.

It’s just nice to be getting a little more engagement with the world.

And maybe that’s how I look at dating, partnership, relationships.

Just with some curiosity and lightness and that I don’t have to figure it out.

Figure it out is a shit slogan.

For now.

Everything is exactly the way it’s supposed to be.

It always is, truthfully.

I just sometimes get stuck in thinking it would be better if….

If what?

And why wait to be happy, when…

I am happy now.

And that is good enough.

It really is.

Do I Stay

March 6, 2022

Or do I go?

My upstairs neighbor has been playing horrid music all day.

All damn day.

Since 11a.m.

It is now 8:15p.m.

Non-stop, no rest, no break, hardcore electronic, thump, thump, thump bass music.

It is like living inside a headache.

How’s that meth treating you dude?

I’m pretty sure the kid is using, the hours he keeps, the loud music, the people in and out partying, banging the gate, the music that is non-stop.

He’s a DJ.

He’s actually a bagger at Whole Foods, not to disparage anyone in any service industry, but he’s a hobbyist.

Not a real DJ.

Or, not a DJ with any fucking talent.

Then again, even the best DJ on the planet might stress me out if I was listening to it non-stop without being able to turn it off for nine hours.

I’ll get a reprieve at 10p.m. when we play our nightly routine of chicken when I give him a few minutes to shut down the damn system, noise ordinance, and then go out and stridently ring the door bell.

He never answers, but the music does tend to stop.

Not always.

But a few complaints to the landlord–seven emails documenting time of day and levels of noise (anywhere from 12:30p.m. to once at 4:30a.m.) including me recording how loud it was with my phone and sending that in–a complaint filed with the city and calling the cops three times, has helped a bit to get him to comply with turning off the system.

Normally I’m not in my damn house all day, except when I’m in my home office seeing clients during the work week on video, and there are a few weekdays he obviously is not working–Tuesdays and Thursdays, when it’s going off all day long.

But today.

Ugh.

Today I was in the house all day long.

Not my happy place for a weekend day.

But I hurt my back a couple of days ago.

Fuck me.

I am getting old.

I pulled a muscle in my back and it has been a screaming nightmare.

I mean.

Ok.

I exaggerate a little but it has been really painful.

I got it, sigh, hopping around putting on a pair of leggings.

Ugh.

It just went out and I screamed and said, “no!” really loudly.

It was also, wait for it, the first day I was going back into office to see clients in person.

Fuck my life.

I hobbled to my office.

I have hurt my back in this same place before and know that the muscles there are not great.

The first time I injured it was back in 2005 and it was a dozy.

Like super fucking bad.

I didn’t pull a muscle then, I tore a muscle and it took so long to heal.

I couldn’t bend over, I couldn’t lift anything more than 5lbs for literally six or seven months.

I walked with a fucking cane for five months.

It was horrendous.

This was not that, but it spooked me, it was too close for comfort.

So I knew I had to take it easy the last few days and fortunately there has been some recovering, I certainly did not tear a muscle, I have been able to lift things and move around, although watching me put groceries away would have been a hoot if you had seen me trying to get things in the fridge.

Lift with your legs!

I got down too low at one point and just threw things in the fridge.

I also couldn’t load the bottom part of my dishwasher, so doing all the dishes by hand, luxury problem.

And let me not forget the agony of changing the cat box out.

Good grief.

Today I tried to go out for a walk and realized that I had been over compensating with other parts of my back and now the middle part and my shoulders are fucked up.

Gah.

So I just did a very slow mosey around a few blocks and came back home.

I got nestled on the couch with lunch, a heating pad, a book, a cup of tea and just stayed there the whole day.

Around 5p.m. I had had it with the music.

Remember the part about being inside a head ache?

Yeah.

I tried to nap and I couldn’t.

The music was just too much.

So.

I thought, well, hmm, maybe it is time to move.

All my requests about lowering the music have been pretty snubbed and I have kept telling myself, you’ll wait him out, he’s a kid, he’ll move soon, I have invested a lot in my home and it’s lovely and cozy and I don’t really want to move.

Although I could stand a little more natural light and a little less street noise to be honest and my utilities here are pretty high–it’s not really an energy efficient apartment.

But.

It’s a five minute walk to my office.

And I just started going back into my office.

And I like the location.

But.

Headache.

Pounding headache listening to this crap all day long.

So.

Craiglist.

And low and behold what is this?

https://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/apa/d/san-francisco-one-bedroom-gem-in-one-of/7450255496.html

Why look!

(UPDATED EDIT: I just went back to Craigslist after listening to more horrible music and thinking, yeah, maybe it is time to get the hell out of here and the ad changed! The ad fucking changed. It was listed for $2600, after I emailed my landlord the ad changed to $2750. I’m being gaslit, this happened to me when I saw my apartment when I moved in, I believe my landlord did a bait and switch putting an ad on Craigslist for $2750 which is what I had my filters set to on the site and when I came to see it, he showed me the ad for $2850, which is what my rent is, I was seriously confused but I also needed a place so I took it. And fuck, I should have taken a screen shot. GRRRR. I imagine there’s going to be a very interesting email tomorrow from my landlord.)

It’s the apartment across the way from me.

Which is literally the same size square footage as mine.

FOR $250 LESS!

Now it wasn’t always $250 less a month then my place.

No.

When it first went on the market they were asking pre-pandemic San Francisco rent: $3300/month.

They never got it.

The apartment has been empty now for about a year.

The rent dropped to $3100.

Then to $2950.

Then to $2850 about four, maybe five months ago.

How do I know this?

Because I have gone on Craigslist more than once in frustration around the noise of the music.

And the apartment always pops up in my search.

So when I saw it today I was livid.

What the fucking hell?

I furiously texted a friend, I perseverated on it, I pulled out my SF Tenant Handbook and I looked up negotiating a rent decrease. I Googled some articles.

I debated inside my head.

All the while listening to DJ Douche Bag.

My fond moniker for my upstairs neighbor–who fyi is not the master tenant, he moved in last May and has been a freaking nuisance since then.

I know he certainly doesn’t pay as much rent as I do.

And I decided.

Fuck it.

I’m writing the landlord.

I let him know that I needed a few maintenance things done at the apartment and then I made the request.

I let him know I wanted to renegotiate the rent (I had tried once last year in August and he shut me down but said he wouldn’t raise the rent this year).

I reminded him of the obvious, I’m quiet, amiable, pay my rent on time–actually early I literally pay the rent every month on the fifteenth for the upcoming month as this is when I get paid.

I’m a solid tenant.

I also said that it was unreasonable for me to be paying substantially higher rent than that which was being offered to a new tenant to the building and I asked for my rent to be lowered to reflect the rent being offered in the ad.

I also offered to sign a longer lease, 2-3 years, if that would help.

I actually don’t want to move, it’s a fucking hassle, but if the apartment across the way is being rented for way less then what I am paying and the noise upstairs continues.

I’m out.

Despite what I hear on the street about rents going up it doesn’t seem to be that way and the fact that a one bedroom in Hayes Valley in a rent controlled building has been on the market for over a year tells me all I need to know.

It’s time to lower the rent.

Right damn now.

I don’t believe the house party is going to stop upstairs, but if I was paying $250 a month less in rent I do believe I could tolerate it a little better.

And if my landlord isn’t amenable.

Cool.

I’ll be on the market for a new place.

Let me know if you know of anything.

Sans DJs.

Into the swim of things

January 30, 2022

I got back in the pool today!

First time since my surgery.

Second time since my prior surgery.

Yeah.

It’s been a minute.

I was thinking to myself, as I checked into the facility, that had I known how many times I would be out due to surgery, I wouldn’t have bought the year pass.

Sigh.

Oh well.

When I look back over the year, I got the membership last year at the end of January, so basically a year ago, I did have a good run to begin with.

Then I got hit with the appendicitis a few weeks into the membership in February.

That knocked me out for a while.

I got back into the pool about three, four weeks after the surgery.

Then I had the brachioplasty at the end of July and well, frankly, that one still hurts.

Not as bad, no not as bad at all.

But my arms were so damn tender and achy, for quite some time after. I literally could not lift my hands over my head for months, that I didn’t get back into the pool until months and months after that procedure.

And when I did, I barely managed 400 yards.

Half of that was kicking while holding a kickboard.

Then I was back getting surgery at the end of October.

That one little time I swam 400 yards was it for me.

Partially as I really wanted to stay COVID safe and so stopped prior to the next surgery.

But mostly because I was defending my PhD dissertation on October 15th and I had to bust ass on getting my stuff complete and preparing for the defense.

Then I had to get ready for the next surgery.

That surgery was done on October 26th.

Which seems like it was so long ago, but in reality, was just three months ago now.

I have been impatient at times with myself and wanted the recovery to go faster.

I am used to being strong and connected and embodied and not being able to move fast, well fuck, I could barely hobble around for weeks, it took a lot out of me. So much. Hell, I couldn’t even stand up straight for weeks.

And because it’s been a slow recovery I haven’t addressed a lot of things that I would like to have dealt with by now.

Like.

I still have things stacked up in my kitchen–boxes of research and my Christmas tree–that I have not put into storage yet because I can’t quite lift heavy things yet.

But.

I will soon.

I can feel it.

And despite being cleared for exercise a few weeks back, I just didn’t feel that comfortable with the idea of getting back into the pool.

Sometimes just taking a shower can zap the energy right out of me.

But something whispered to me last night, “go swim tomorrow,” and I did!

I got my swim bag out of the closet and loaded up my toiletry bag with all the things and checked to make sure I still had a working swim cap and goggles and I got my flip flops and queued everything up to walk out the door in the morning.

I didn’t even sleep in!

I can on Saturdays, but I didn’t.

I was up at 7:30a.m., without an alarm! I made my bed, did my routine, pulled on swim suit, put my binder over the top of it, and put on sweats.

I was out the door by 8a.m. and in the pool literally twenty minutes later.

And it hurt.

I won’t lie.

And.

It felt so damn good.

I mean.

I am tired now.

Like exhausted, swimming makes me really tired.

But it was also so lovely to be back in the water.

I thought that I was not going to be able to do much, the pain was pretty quick, but I was like, just swim a length and do a flip turn and if the flip turn fucks you up too much, get out.

I was pretty proud of myself for just getting in the damn pool in the first place.

And!

The flip turn did not fuck me up.

I was able to do it.

Yeah, again, there was some pain, but tolerable.

I knew I wasn’t going to push myself, but my arms felt pretty damn good and I felt like I could keep going so I did a bit more.

Not a crazy amount.

I mean, I swam 600 yards, that was it.

But it was luscious.

The water felt so good and I was happy to be back in my happy place.

I am not a super talented swimmer, but I am a decent swimmer, and just moving through the water with ease, albeit it slow ease, felt so damn good.

So I told myself, “good job kiddo,” and got out of the lane after my 600 yards and hit the showers.

I was happy to take it slow in the shower and slow getting dressed and just go gently.

Like really gently.

My body is still healing.

And.

It will continue to change for a bit yet, full recovery is estimated at 8-12 months.

I’m at 3 months.

I’ve still got a ways to go.

But, I’ll be back in the pool soon.

Tomorrow, as a matter of fact.

But that will be it for a few days.

Prior to all my surgeries I was swimming four to five days a week.

I’m going to start out with two days and see how it goes.

Soft and gentle.

Easy does it.

And it was nice to also be at the club, as it’s close to the Ferry Building, which had a farmer’s market today.

I bought myself some flowers and some late, I mean way late, end of season persimmons, and had a nice walk through the market, noticing all the things that are changing and the early signs of spring foods–radishes and lettuces and budding pussy willow branches.

I love a farmer’s market.

I came home afterward, had a lovely breakfast, with some of those persimmons, drank my latte and did a ton of writing.

I went grocery shopping.

I went to Dolores Park and hit up a friends birthday party.

And I walked 12,000+ steps today.

I am done in.

Like I said.

I wasn’t going to even write this blog, but something compelled me to.

Whatever it was, I have to say, it’s nice to be back here again too, doing the writing, dumping out the days’ contents onto the page and letting it go off into the ether.

My arms are sore.

Both from the swimming and from the writing.

But it is a good sore, a welcome sore, and let me tell you, I will be sleeping like a baby tonight.

Swimming through the stars, sliding through the water of the night into the morning.

When I will wake up and do it all over again.

Sweet dreams.

My friends.

Sweet dreams.

New York State of Mind

November 7, 2021

It’s interesting what a little down time and sitting in my bed for, what now, twelve days?

What it will do to your mind.

I’ve been bed bound recovering from a surgery.

Third surgery this year.

Kind of crazy.

I have not had any surgeries in sobriety until this year.

I am no longer afraid of the pain pills or of becoming addicted to that shit.

I do not like them.

No.

I do not.

Ugh.

Gross, wonky thoughts, horrible nightmares, weird mind meanderings, drugged sleep.

Not for me.

When I was out there using and drinking and smoking and fucking around I liked the up all night kind of drugs.

Cocaine was my spirit animal.

This girl liked to party all the time, party all the time, party all the time.

I didn’t like the slow track.

Never have.

Likely never will.

I have a good girl friend who tells me I drive like her step mother.

Now in some vernacular circles that might come across as an insult, not in this case.

Her stepmother was a rally race car driver.

What my friend doesn’t know is that I slow down when I have folks in the car with me.

heh.

Anyway.

I will also add that pain killers, they do work you know.

I have found myself asking for them.

But only right after the surgery.

The first surgery this year happened in early February.

Burst appendix.

Well, it wasn’t burst until I was actually in the ER.

Then it burst.

Guess that’s a lucky place to be if you’re appendix is going to pop, might as well be where it will be taken care of.

I eschewed the pain meds, I said, no thanks, I’m sober, don’t want any, no way, no how.

Except.

Well fuck.

It was surgery.

And coming out of it was excruciating.

Apparently when I came out I still said no to the pain meds on offer, I have no memory of this.

However, after about twenty minutes or so, maybe more, maybe less, it’s hazy, I couldn’t take it.

The nurse who was typing up a note looked at me and said, “honey, you’re dying, let me give you something.”

Tear leaked down my face and I nodded yes.

Oh sweet God.

Was the relief immediate and welcome.

That was the only time I took anything.

I refused the rest.

But after having gone through that experience I realized I could handle surgery.

And not relapse.

Thank fucking God.

I also realized I was tired of my belly.

The loose skin from the weight loss.

Weight loss I’ve sustained for years and years and years now, twelve I think.

I was too old when I lost the weight for my skin to bounce back.

It just sagged.

I have always been self-conscious about it and it was disarming to lose all that weight and then be left with a body I still had to come to terms with.

I think that’s why a lot of folks actually gain the weight back.

The skin is depressing.

I did a lot of work.

I did a lot of praying.

I did a lot of acceptance.

And I had beautiful body experiences.

I have dated men who were stunning.

My ex for sure.

Gorgeous and hyper fit.

And I still felt self-conscious.

Not as much as I used to.

But it would happen.

No matter how many, “thank you God for this beautiful body” prayers I said, I still felt something.

Sometimes is was dismay, like if I hadn’t been messed with as a kid would I have drown myself in a sea of sugar to cope with the feelings that wouldn’t ever leave me.

Add weight to protect myself from the world, from the predatory gaze of men in my family or on the street on in school.

Would I have been just a normal size kid?

A beautiful body to match my beautiful face.

I used to wish that I could just cut off my head and put it on another body.

And yeah.

The work has worked and the acceptance has worked and I’m hella grateful for this body that I have been given to walk around in and ultimately, that it saved me, it took the brunt of the mental and emotional pain I was in and held it for me.

Thanks body.

And.

I also wanted something more.

Something transformative.

Like all my tattoos.

A new story for this body.

A new experience.

The appendectomy and the healing that happened and the focus on that part of my body pushed me to inquire about skin reduction surgery.

I have talked about it for years with my therapist.

I have dreamt about it, if I win the lotto type dreams.

So.

I talked to my GP.

And she agreed.

And she referred me to a plastic surgeon at Kaiser.

And I stood naked in front of a mirror and took 365 degree photos of my body and the sagging skin on my stomach and upper arms and sent a stranger photos.

My first naked selfies.

Probably my last.

And I met with the surgeon and he asked me why I wanted the surgery and I told him my reasons and I told him about all the work I have done and how long I’ve been abstinent and how much I wanted to do it, with tears on my face.

And he said.

“You’re the perfect candidate for this surgery, you really are, you deserve to have this surgery done.”

And he said.

“But your insurance won’t cover it, Kaiser won’t cover a dime of it, believe me, I have fought for this for many a patient.”

He asked me one other question, “does the skin on your belly prevent you from walking?”

Um, no.

And he said unless it was so much skin that it prevented my mobility my insurance wouldn’t cover it.

And he ended with, but I still think you should do it and I’m going to refer you some numbers of colleagues in the Bay, as Kaiser in San Francisco is not doing any cosmetic surgery at the moment due to the pandemic.

I took naked selfies for no good reason.

Ugh.

And for all the right reasons.

I called all the numbers and I got no after no because pandemic, because booked up, because on vacation, blah, blah, blah.

So.

I decided to go out of pocket.

I found my own surgeon.

Dr. Kenneth Bermudez.

And he is special.

He is fabulous.

He was amazing to meet and he’s been a dream to work with.

He was not cheap.

I blew all my savings.

I’ve been saving to buy a house.

But instead I decided to remodel the one I live in.

I also used student loans.

I ain’t gonna lie.

I figure I’ve become a great therapist, I have a full client load, I have a lovely business that I have built and worked on and put my heart into creating.

I can afford it.

I will make the money back.

So we set a date, July 16th, to do a brachioplasty, belt lipectomy, and butt lift.

There were some complications which meant that I had to derail the surgery a bit, turns out I was anemic and the surgeon wouldn’t due the full surgery.

But we compromised.

He did the brachioplasty.

And I’ve been recovering from that, pretty well, too I think.

It’s been rather extraordinary to not have the wings of skin hanging off my upper arms.

My arms are still healing and it was painful to go through the process, but man, it was worth it.

After a month and a half of healing I got an iron transfusion to accompany the plethora of iron supplements I had started taking in July.

And my surgeon set my date for the belt lipectomy for October 26th.

hahahahahahahaha.

Right after my PhD dissertation defense.

Can I just say that whole thing was stressful as fuck.

I successfully defended.

I am a doctor.

Huzzah!

And I pretty much turned right around and started getting myself prepped for the belt lipectomy.

Big ass surgery.

And in hindsight I am grateful that there were complications with the first surgery, I don’t think I could have dealt with both my trunk and my arms being inoperable.

It would have been too much.

So I went in 12 days ago and got it done.

He removed 7lbs.

7lbs!!

Of loose skin and tissue.

Fucking amazing.

I’m still too swollen to see much of a change, but I am excited for getting healed up enough to see the difference.

And wear clothes and buy new clothes.

And walk outside of my house.

I’ve been pretty bed bound for the last twelve days.

But.

I am happy to say.

That once again, I got off the pain meds really quick.

I was on Percocet, which is basically Oxycodone.

I hated it.

I mean.

In the beginning I took it without thought because I was in so much pain.

And I slept a lot, a lot, a lot.

But after my six day post-op follow up appointment I felt ready to titrate off the shit.

I went one more full day on the meds, going longer in between taking the pills.

And I had a plan to wean down and cut the pills in half and be off of them by this past Friday.

But.

Ack.

I remember one night, Tuesday it was, one week after the surgery, where I realized that I didn’t need them and that I didn’t want to continue taking them and I was afraid I would become bodily addicted.

So I stopped cold turkey.

And yeah, it wasn’t fabulous, the first night, Wednesday, was hard to sleep and I stayed up until 3 a.m. watching videos, but I got it out of my system and I haven’t had anything since this past Tuesday.

Four and a half days now.

Just Extra Strength Tylenol, lots of bubbly water, and videos.

Movies, series, cooking shows.

And for some reason.

An awful lot of what I have watched has been set in New York.

I have always wanted to live in New York.

And in some ways I sense it’s a good thing I didn’t when I was till actively drinking.

I think New York might have been the death of me, San Francisco nearly was.

So I never made it there.

I never moved there.

But I have thought of it often.

A brown stone in Brooklyn.

A therapy practice.

Seasons.

Granted.

I know winter there is not the bucolic cinematic scene that I watch cozied up with my fuzzy blankent.

Winters are brutal.

But spring, summer, fall.

Oh, wouldn’t it be nice?

I am nostalgic for a place I have never lived in, though I have visited three times.

And I fit in.

I fit in quite well.

I love the characters, and the character of the city.

I also know it can grind a person down and I know a lot of folks that have moved away.

But there is something about it.

Even now, on the cusp of turning 49 I think about moving to New York.

Though I sense you have to be young to make it in New York and really get established.

I am too old.

I have my one bedroom rent control apartment in Hayes Valley and my office is a five minute walk away.

I have the fog and the cable cars and the trolleys, the ocean, the multitude of beautiful hills and vistas, the Victorians.

Sure.

Yeah.

There’s homelessness and rampant drug use and shit on the sidewalk and some guy in the neighborhood who walks around with a super huge sound system strapped to a rolling cart, but there is still beauty.

So much beauty.

And just like I fit in New York.

I fit in San Francisco.

I’m in year twenty of living here.

So.

I don’t think I’m moving to New York anytime soon.

But there is something there.

A life maybe, running parallel to the one I am in now.

That once in a while I can just see out of the corner of my eye.

So when I’m ready and fully healed up I think it might be time for another trip back.

Which might be a bit yet, I do have to heal and I am going to Hawaii in February for a conference.

Maybe in the summer.

A four day weekend.

A stay at some swank hotel or a cute Air BnB in Brooklyn.

Until then.

I’ll keep watching videos.

I’m still on bed rest.

But I’ll keep the dream alive.

New York, you’re so often on my mind.

Boom

September 11, 2021

It’s the last word of this beautiful, exquisite, love story.

Foodie Love.

I have no idea how I stumbled onto it.

But I did.

I have cried watching every episode.

It is all the things.

I watched it nostalgic for places I have never been, Limoux, France, Toykyo, Japan, Barcelona, Spain.

My friend M. would tell me, “Car! Why have you not gone to Barcelona, Car? It is so you, bright and colorful, eclectic, eccentric, beautiful, you would fit right in Car. You should go.”

I haven’t been.

Damn you pandemic.

I haven’t been anywhere, Joshua Tree I suppose, but that didn’t really feel like traveling, since I was in Paris, December of 2019 celebrating my birthday and Christmas because I could not handle having another Christmas or birthday without you.

I had a brief boyfriend for a moment, we would text often when I was in Paris, the texting was sweeter than the actual relationship which went so fast it was surreal.

He said he loved me on our fourth date.

He asked me to be his girlfriend on the second date.

I should have ran away then.

But he was sweet and smitten with me and young and for just a few moments he would make me forget you, oh eyes of blue.

Until he didn’t.

In fact, he made me miss you more.

You haunted me all over Paris, despite this texting flirtation with the young man.

I bought him chocolate, thinking of you.

He ate the whole box when I gave it to him, like the little boy he was, in one sitting and gave himself a stomach ache.

I got him a t-shirt from a cafe, one of my favorites in the Marais district, Cafe Charlot, a cafe I wish I was sitting with you in it, dreamily gazing at your over a cafe creme. I told him it was a future promise, I would buy him a bacon cheeseburger with pomme frites when we came to Paris together….if the relationship lasted that long.

It did not.

Last long.

That is.

On my birthday you looked at my LinkedIn profile. While I was in Paris texting the young man in Oakland.

I discovered this days later and teared up, you had not looked at it in secret mode or private mode, or whatever it is that lets you look discretely at someone’s profile. You looked and wanted me to know you were thinking of me on my birthday.

This last birthday.

We spent it together.

Half-Moon Bay.

I wore Comme de Garcon and black Tretorn sneakers.

We ate take out sushi at the beach.

You told me, “next year let’s go away for a whole weekend, find a place like that little bed and breakfast we walked by in town.”

You wanted to come again to that beach before that, make a picnic, have a blanket, burrow into a dune, burrow into me.

“I just want to get lost in you,” you said to me often.

I was alright with that.

I liked getting lost in you too.

Of course.

All the sad things came back to me, the reflux flared up again, damn you internalized feelings, the tears started up again and we’d agreed, if I got sad, we would stop.

I got sad.

Christmas day by myself sitting at my kitchen table eating oatmeal opening up a present my mother had sent me, a duplicate of an ornament she’d already sent the year before.

I burst into tears.

Thinking of you with your family in your house with your wife and your child and your dogs and your Christmas tree, wearing new Christmas socks and smiling, smiling, smiling.

Last week, last Sunday, I mailed you a card.

I wrote, “tu me manque” in French.

I miss you.

I pressed my lips to it, leaving a kiss mark on the interior of the card.

A big glittery card with a heart on the cover and Je t’aime on the front.

I do like the Frenchie stuff you know.

I carried it around for a day.

Don’t mail it.

Mail it.

Don’t mail it.

Mailed it.

Then I woke up the next day in a panic and had fantasies about stalking the mailbox and making the mail man, woman, person, give it back to me.

Even though I knew they would not.

What the fuck did I do?

I had a nightmare.

I dreamt your wife found out about our affair.

I dreamt it was March 17th and I was making you a birthday cake and you were so mad at me that your wife found out.

March 17th is not your birthday.

And I never told your wife.

But you did.

I think, in some ways, she always knew.

Maybe, maybe, maybe she was ok with it, not consciously I suppose, but maybe it helped the facade of the partnership.

Affairs are not the problem in a marriage.

They are the symptom of a problem.

And often they are had to keep the relationship going.

One gets what one needs to stay in the marriage.

“I just want to get lost in you.”

I gave you love and wrote you poetry and baked you cookies that you would keep in your glove box.

I wonder if anyone ever got in your car and marveled at the smell of peanut butter chocolate chip cookies that must have permeated the entire interior.

Better than a paper evergreen tree air freshener.

I made you happy.

Until I made you miserable.

Gave you that ultimatum.

Drove you to panic.

For that I am everlastingly sorry.

Watching you have a panic attack when I asked you to chose between her and me.

Gah.

Years later your face still haunts me.

I did try you know.

I tried to be ok with it and bend and contort.

I wanted you so, so, so bad.

I still do.

Never stopped.

And that is ok.

I can want you and I can not have you.

I walked around Jefferson Square Park this past week, past that stupid mailbox where I mailed that card, and realized, fuck, really truly realized, that I knew, knew in my heart, that you were never going to leave your wife.

So why did I keep going back to you?

Why?

Love, I suppose.

Tragic, romantic, unruly, unreasonable, stupid love.

I’m paying a lot in therapy to figure this all out.

And I know where it stems from.

Childhood abuse, blah, blah, blah.

I am writing, have written I should say, a dissertation on it.

I know the material pretty well.

And yet I can get stuck there again.

Beating myself for doing something my little inner voice said, hmm, maybe don’t do that.

I didn’t send you the playlist on Spotify, at least I didn’t do that, the one called “I still love you.”

I know, very creative.

But I didn’t.

I just listen to it and cry.

So.

Watching this show stirred all the things.

As two souls find themselves, two wounded humans, on a first date in Barcelona, having a coffee, and the arc of the love begins.

It’s astounding and so well done.

The scenery made me long for travel again.

The writing, suberp.

Really, the best, and the acting, so, so good.

I felt bereft watching and a deep longing.

I want all those things, the passion and the intelligence and the balance and the power, the love.

The first time the couple kiss, one of them says, “boom”.

And you, the viewer, the watcher, the voyeur, know, what they are saying is “I love you.”

I want that.

I want that with someone.

I almost wrote with you and deleted that.

The small, quiet, inside voice knows that is not possible.

I have to want it with someone else.

I have to let go.

I have to hope that you don’t get the card, it gets lost in the mail, or it is returned to sender, address unknown.

I have to let myself meet someone else.

Someone who will be ok if once in a while I cry at a show reminded of you, even if they don’t know why, they will hold my hand and kiss my neck, scoop the hair off my face and look into my eyes.

And say.

Boom.

You Have My Thoughts

January 25, 2021

An old friend reached out to me yesterday.

We talked for a long time.

We have been friends for a bit over fifteen years.

He was so effusive about how my life has turned out and all of the challenges I have faced to get to where I am.

“I know what you did, it’s amazing, you pulled yourself up from literally nothing and worked harder with constraints that few people I know would have been able to get through,” he said.

He witnessed me in my first year of sobriety when I literally had nothing, could barely make the rent, even cheap, rent controlled rent, barely had money for food, let alone a bus pass or taxi cab.

He took me everywhere.

He had a scooter and a convertible Mercedes Benz.

I was either on the back of that scooter or I was in the passenger seat of that Benz all the time.

We were joined at the hip.

Everyone.

EVERYONE.

Thought we were dating.

But nope.

Nary a kiss, never a date, nothing.

Although we would do things that if I was witnessing others do, especially a man and a woman, I would think, oh yeah, they’re totally together.

He took me out to lunch and dinner all the time.

He bought me clothes.

I was so broke in my first couple of years of sobriety, so broke.

He took me out dancing.

We both loved to dance.

We saw djs all over the city.

Sometimes we would just drive around in his convertible with the top down and blast music and find spots to dance–Twin Peaks, the little cove down by the base of the Golden Gate Bridge, random parking lots in the SOMA, Treasure Island.

It was a night out at Treasure Island, with no fog and a warmer than usual temperature, the city across the bay sparkling and magic, that I asked him after we had been dancing in the headlights to music and had collapsed back into the car to drink water and catch our breaths.

“Why aren’t we dating?” I asked.

He paused.

He was quiet for a long time.

He said, “well, I mean, I guess I could see you giving me a blow job, but where would it go after that and we’re such good friends, I mean, it just doesn’t seem worth going there.”

I punched him in the arm, “you could see me giving you a blowjob?!”

“Well, yeah, I mean, you know, you’ve got a great mouth,” he replied and grinned at me.

“Yeah, good luck with that,” I said and looked back out over the water.

I never gave him a blow job.

We stayed friends.

Thick as thieves.

And life happened.

Life happens.

My best friend died, he know I had a crush of sorts on my friend, and would tease me once in a while about that, but also in a way that didn’t really razz me up.

When Shadrach died in General Hospital someone reached out to my friend and said, “come and get Carmen and take her out and feed her.”

I was shellacked.

I had been in that ICU by Shadrach’s side or with his family for seven days in a row, eight maybe. My friend had not been able to make it in to say good bye to Shadrach.

But.

He showed up that night in his Mercedes and took me to Chow on Church and Market and he told me to order a steak and eat it.

I did.

Then he took me out to Treasure Island and told me, “talk about it.”

I did.

I told him all the stories and the sadness and the horror of watching Shadrach die and he just held my hand and let me cry on his shoulder.

He was a good friend.

He always was.

Sometimes a bit intense, sometimes suddenly unavailable, but someone I could talk to for hours, someone who made me laugh, someone who always was up for having and adventure.

The time we went to see Gary Neuman at the Fillmore and then got out of the show with enough time to whip over to the Castro Theater and see Tron.

Or Goldfrapp at the Fillmore.

Or Sunshine Jones in so many different clubs.

Or Eric Sharp at some underground deep in the SOMA in a warehouse.

Or when he got a projector and we found a deserted parking lot in the SOMA next to a huge white painted wall and watched the Daft Punk Movie Interstella 5555.

Or sitting in front of Ritual in the Mission, before they had outside seating, on the sidewalk drinking lattes, with a boombox blasting Michael Jackson.

He taught me how to play dominoes, “bones,” and then would brutally beat me at it all the time.

I could name a lot more.

There were many, many, many adventures.

The weekend in Vegas.

And there were many, many, many girlfriends.

Some who liked me.

Some who absolutely couldn’t stand me.

My friend dated women I worked with, mutual friends, women I sponsored, (Shadrach joked once, “why doesn’t he just go right to the source,” meaning me), friends of other friends.

All sorts of ladies.

He got serious with one of them and I really liked her, hell I even lived with them for a couple of months when I had lost a job and my apartment in Nob Hill with seven years sober and ended up taking a huge pay cut and going to work at Mission Bicycle Company as a shop girl, she was sweet.

They opened a hair salon together.

One or the other of them was always doing my hair.

I was my friend’s hair model for a long time.

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I got to rock some ridiculously fabulous hair.

Most of the time.

Every once in a while he did something that I was like, “dude, no, cut it off.”

The time he gave me a tail.

That only lasted two days.

Maybe only half a day, now that I think about it.

He also went to school to learn make up and to this day I credit him with teaching me how to do makeup.

And to love glitter.

When he reached out to me recently I told him I had stopped dying my hair crazy colors, after he and his girlfriend moved away, I went to a mutual friend who took me blonde and then hot pink, to be a therapist and have a professional look.

I even toned down the make up for a bit.

But it snuck right back in.

I couldn’t give up the glitter.

He texted me, “NEVER give up the glitter.”

A lady likes a man who isn’t opposed to glitter.

He got engaged.

He bought a house.

They broke up.

He moved to L.A.

That’s where he’s at now, muddling through the pandemic as an essential worker.

I can’t even imagine, although a number of my therapy clients have indicated that they consider me an essential worker, I just can’t imagine being out in the public as much as my friend is.

We reconnected back around July or August, played a lot of phone tag, and didn’t actually get to talk until after Thanksgiving.

And it was like riding a bike.

We talked for hours.

Every week or so we’d text a little.

And we caught up after the holidays and.

And.

Well.

Ha.

He’s interested, all these years later, in dating.

I was surprised as hell.

Although, when I have had some time to think about it I realized he’d asked a few times what my dating situation was.

“Non-traditional,” I replied once.

And.

He sent me a song one day on Spotify, “I Adore You,” by Goldie.

I loved the song.

I looked up the lyric’s, well, huh, those are some interesting lyric’s.

This seems like a love song.

Is my friend sending me a love song?

Maybe.

When all is said is done
After the run we’ve had
Let me be the one
I’ll be there for you
Better to let, better to let you know I was a fool in love
Just enough to want you more I adore you
And I’ll never let you go I adore you When all is settled dust
After the storm has passed
Let me be the one to shine on you
Better to let, better to let you know I am a fool in love
Just enough to want you more I adore you
And I’ll never let you go After the run we’ve had
After the tears we’ve cried
On all those lonely nights
I still want you in my life I see you in my mind
And now the sun don’t shine
And I’m just getting by
So why can’t you be mine?

It sounds like a love song!

And then.

One night, it came out, he was texting me and he said, “would it be crazy if we went on a date?”

What?!

We texted back and forth for a while and decided, maybe it would not be.

We went a few weeks without talking about it and he did his thing and I did my thing.

But.

It’s come up again and we talked yesterday, for a long time, and we’re going to give it a shot.

Holy shit.

I mean.

I still can’t quite believe it.

He’s going to take some time off from work and come up over a weekend and stay at an old friends house and we’re just going to see what it feels like.

HOLY SHIT.

I’m excited, nervous, think I need to lose five pounds, happy, curious, all the things.

We both agreed that whatever happens, we’re just investigating and we won’t stop being friends.

It could be a hilarious wrong turn.

Or it could be a dance party.

I don’t know.

He doesn’t have a Mercedes anymore.

But he does have a Cadillac.

So I expect we will cruise around the city and revisit old haunts.

And maybe.

Make out?

We shall see.

More will be revealed.


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