Posts Tagged ‘transportation’

Push Button Baby

August 1, 2017

I saw a couple on the side of the road as I zoomed down Lincoln Way frantically trying to kick over the starter on a vintage Vespa.

I chuckled to myself.

The old Vespas look so fucking cool.

I know.

I used to have one.

It was such a pretty girl.

But.

Man.

It was such a hassle to get it started or it would conk out on me out of the blue.

Like coming down Laguna Honda in the fog going 40 miles an hour.

I got tired of that really fast.

That.

And the freaking horrifying sprained ankle that I got when the kick starter jammed and I folded my ankle in half.

That was no fun.

Months, years really, of healing.

The doctor was shocked it wasn’t broken and then told me it was too bad it wasn’t since the sprain is slower to heal and how badly I had injured it I would be lucky if it was healed fully in a year and a half.

He was right.

It took that much time to heal.

Actually closer to two years, if I’m honest, I had to be really careful and there were times when I could feel it was still injured.

It put a bad taste in my mouth for every having something vintage like that again.

Truth too.

I wasn’t prepared for the amount of maintenance and well, it turned out it was a knock off Vespa, despite the registration issued from the DMV, it was a knock off Vietnam Vespa and no body in town would touch it to repair it.

So.

I got rid of it.

I had it recycled.

I got it off the road.

I wasn’t going to be responsible for someone else getting injured on it and when the mechanics at the shop told me all the issues with it I was shocked that I hadn’t hurt myself more on it, I could have easily crashed it out.

Granted.

There were some gleeful moments on it when someone would pull up to me on it at a light and chat with me about it, the scooter really was well done, no one had a clue it was fake.

Certainly not I.

I was a tiny bit bamboozled you could say.

Any way, that’s an old story and not the point.

The point is.

Thank fucking god for my scooter.

I live in the Outer Sunset.

I work in Glen Park.

My internship is in the Mission.

My school is in the SOMA.

I have supervision in Hayes Valley.

And.

Therapy in Noe Valley.

I have to get all over the city.

And the scooter is quick.

Of course, I do have some anxiety about what will happen when the fall comes and the rains that generally come with the fall.

I will either have to get used to wet weather riding or figure something else out.

I can ride in the rain.

I have done it.

I do not like it, but it’s doable.

I was talking to my friend yesterday as she was getting the last of her household packed up for travels back to France and she looked at me and said, “drive safe poulette (her term of endearment for me–sexy girl, although literal translation is chicken, I like to think of it as “chick” or chickadee), maybe it’s time you got a car.”

Yeah.

There’s that.

Aside from the fact that it would be handy to go to Burning Man.

Heh.

Still haven’t gotten a ride yet, still hedging my bets with a rental, but that too is beside the point.

I don’t know what exactly the point is.

I haven’t had a car for over a decade.

I got rid of mine two weeks after moving here in 2002.

Fuck.

Nearly fifteen years with no car.

Lots of bicycles.

And two scooters.

I do like my scooter and I do so appreciate getting around on it.

I just have time concerns now that I didn’t have before.

I mean.

My schedule has always been full, but then I added in graduate school and graduate school added in an internship and um, ha, since, I’m a therapist in training, I have to be on time for my clients.

I get done with work at 6p.m. and I have clients at 6:30 p.m. Mondays, Tuesday, Thursdays, and I have been assigned a new client to see on Fridays now at 6:30p.m.

My first child client!

Bring on the child and family hours!

Ahem.

I digress.

This whole blog is a digression.

Sometimes when I don’t want to write about what I want to write about, I can go off on tangents.

Shadrach.

Scooter accident.

Dead.

Today.

10 years.

I had a little contact with his mom today after she posted a photo of visiting his grave.

Add onto that saying goodbye yesterday to my darling French friend.

Great recipe for sadness.

I felt heavy with it this morning when I left my house to go meet with my supervisor.

I got to Hayes Valley early and had a fifteen minute window so I called my person and shared about it and he said, “you sound sad,” and there it was, the sad, the heaviness in me, it was sadness.

Tears welled up and spilled down my face.

Yup.

Sad.

So we made a plan to meet at a church in the Inner Sunset after I got out of supervision.

It was so good.

I got right with God.

Then we went for tea at Tart to Tart and had a good session.

We sent my friend from Paris a good-bye photo of the two of us having tea, my face a little wet with tears, and my person smiling to beat the band, ugh, not all selfies are sexy.

Ha.

Oh.

Sadness.

I had my cry though and things began to shift.

I came home, made a nice lunch and then did some school work.

Because.

It’s that time.

I have two syllabi posted up and I checked them out and ordered books for class.

I sighed and realized I was pretty burnt out with the emotions.

And I decided.

You know what?

Nap.

I need a nap.

And that’s what I did.

It was perfect.

I had a little rest then got up, prepped some food for dinner and I could feel the sad had moved out of my body.

I got my things together and hopped back on my scooter, went to my internship, dealt with progress notes and paperwork and then saw a client.

By the time my session ended I was feeling great.

So nice that.

Go.

Be of service.

Feel better.

I scooted home.

Zipped by the park, rode the curves of Lincoln Way, smelled the bonfires at Ocean Beach and though it was cold and a bit foggy, I felt lifted, carried, loved.

I miss you Shadrach.

But.

You would be pretty proud of me.

Ten years.

You think the grief would have gone out of my body, but sometimes it is still there and needs expressing.

I’m grateful I didn’t squash it.

I just had it.

And I’m grateful for the emotions.

I get to have them.

Feelings.

It means I am alive.

And after all the death I have been witness to.

Well.

That’s a fucking miracle.

So glad I still get to be around.

Happy.

Joyous.

Alive.

And.

Free.

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Broke Down

September 3, 2013

But not broken.

Tired.

But clean.

I got a shower tonight and I am all clean and shiny and ready for bed.

Wait a minute, it’s like 8p.m.

Shouldn’t I be out there doing something?

There’s not a whole lot to do out there, but you know, maybe I should wrangle something up.

Nope.

I am going to wrangle myself an episode of Breaking Bad and chill the hell out in the trailer.  There’s not much left out there, except the four-hour exodus line.

Which is shorter than the six-hour exodus line for most of the day.

The gate was shut down mid-afternoon for dust storm white outs and a brief but fierce rain shower.

I was nowhere near gate, I was busy getting upset and dirty.

My bike is broken.

Add to that my Hello Kitty cup, which bounced out of my bike basket yesterday and broke, my Iphone, which won’t hold a charge, yes that is right, my phone be broke.

Don’t bother calling me.

I won’t be answering.

There are so many things to do, but nowhere to go, no one to call, no ability to do so, no bicycle to ride.

Oh yeah, that’s what I was writing about, my broke bike.

Though the lovely Playa Bike Repair shop fixed my flat tire, the bike mechanic did not put my bicycle back together correctly, swapping out one nut for an incorrect size and also not putting my axle in place, leaving it exposed to the elements, and last but not least, instead of using the bolt on the bike flag, he just duct taped it to the frame.

My pennant fell off last night on my way back from the Temple burn and my wheel felt really wobbly, the chain kept catching and I was unable to do any back brake action, plus the seat was all janky and I vowed to fix that shit in the morning.

I did not get around to it until the afternoon, right as the weather was changing from dust storm white out to impending rainstorm.

I had the wheel off and on three times, the seat raised and lowered, the washer on the back axle re-greased and re-threaded, and the ball bearings weren’t sitting right and the whole things was just making me crazy and I am getting pelted by heavy rain and a bad case of the fuck its.

Throw the whole damn thing in the trash.

That’s what I thought.

Instead, what I got was a couple of lovely ladies from the camp to help me.

Between the three of us and a lot of bicycle grease we re-adjusted it, but once the bearings were coupled and aligned we realized that there was a part of the sprocket missing and it was not true.

Dirty, greasy, dusty and annoyed.

I love you Playa Bike Repair, but my bike is no longer serviceable and I don’t have a ride for the rest of my time out here, which sort of bums me out, but I suppose there’s not a thing to be done about that.

I am going to take a photo of the back wheel and order the missing part and bring it with me next year.  The bike is going into a container and being stored with some of the family things.

It has already been decided that I will be back next year.

Duh.

And even if I don’t nanny, which I probably will, the family has extended the camp to me and made room for me, whenever I want I have another camp to stay with.

That’s pretty lovely.

There are a number of camps that will take me in, no matter what I am doing or where I am working.  I know I will be at Burning Man next year, even though I am still here and quite ready to…

Fuck me.

Pause.

I am going to yell.

“Fucking hippies put down the god damn drum, no more vision quests you asshats, go the fuck home.”

Sigh.

Sorry.

The stragglers can now leave the neighborhood.

The event is over folks, get out.

Anyway, as you may be able to tell, I am tired.

It’s not that late, but I am tired.

And I got a pretty full night’s sleep, seven hours?

I worked a half day, but it does not seem to matter, my brain is a bit overwhelmed and my emotions are close to the surface and my body is tired and my bike is broke and my phone don’t work.

Anyone writing a Burning Man country western song yet?

Sigh.

It’s all going to be alright.

‘cuz it already is.

The baby and the mama and the papa are over at First Camp having bbq and potluck, but I said I will pass, I wanted a shower so bad I was willing to forgo the invite and besides I wanted to see my uncle before he left.

We had one last meal together with his friend Henry, aka Odin, and my friends John and Erica.  It was a lovely last meal.  Everyone of them leaves tomorrow.

I don’t know who I know that’s going to be left much past tomorrow.

It should be an interesting ride, these last couple days.

There’s some of my camp mates left, they decided with the inclement weather to just stay put and ride out tomorrow.

Smart move.

The burn barrel is getting stoked and I am foretelling a hot cup of tea and an apple fireside.

Then I don’t even know if I will make it to watch an episode of Breaking Bad.

The Breaking of Carmen being the show on tonight.

I might just fall the hell out into bed.

Start over again tomorrow.

Yawning.

Excuse me.

I am done.

I thought I was done already.

But I am truly done now.

Four more days.

Ack.

I better get some sleep on.

Night friends.

Just a Matter of Logistics Now

August 7, 2013

I got the commissary passes today.

I got the ride up secure.

I got the ticket, the early arrival pass, I got the can’t fall asleep at night because I am thinking about what I am going to wear on playa.

Shaddup.

That’s where my head goes.

That and who am I going to hook up with.

But that is neither here nor there.

First is to get there, or rather to stay present with what is happening now.

I leave in ten days and I have started the conversation about work, on playa and leading up to playa, how to get my stuff to my family, I am going to need a ride into city, and what my schedule for that last week looks like as far as the nannying goes.

I picked up three more shifts this week!

That was a happy surprise.

One family got tickets to Outside Lands and asked me to cover this Friday and Saturday.  And one family has extra work to do at the Burning Man Head Quarters on Friday.

Friday is going to be an epic day.

I will be working in Cole Valley from 8:45a.m. to 5pm or thereabouts and then straight over to the Castro, up to 19th between Noe and Sanchez, until 10:30pm or so.

I am looking at a possible 13 hour day on Friday.

I am also looking to be financially secure for the week, so I am down for the deal.

Especially since I have the next two days off.

Which would explain why I was not too hesitant to drink a large cup of coffee this evening at Dolores Park cafe while I sat in the sun and waited for my friend Tami to come over and join me.

Of course when my brain is doing the tap dance of doom at 1a.m. and I am nowhere near falling asleep I may regret this action, but man, it was tasty in that kind of naughty you know better sort of way.

Yeah, that’s right, that’s how I get my transgressions on, I drink caffeine at 7 o’clock at night.

Watch out.

As the true weekend approaches I am sure that I will have a moment or two or fifteen when I think that I don’t have enough time to prep, but the fact is, pretty much what I told the mom today as we were discussing leave times, next Friday late afternoon, that I travel really light.

My playa bike is probably the biggest burden, and they already have it lined up in their garage, next to mom’s bike and the baby’s covered wagon.

Oh yes, I said covered wagon.

He has a Radio Flyer with an awning.

It is so posh.

I want to throw some pillows in it and have a cute boy pull me around while I sip iced coffees and, ok, even I know that is utter fantasy, but the wagon is beyond adorable, and I can see that it will be a handy little device for toting the boy.

Although I wonder if he’ll actually stay sitting in it for too long, completely beyond my concern at this point, but those are the weird little loop holes my brain will rabbit hole about.

How to secure the baby in the wagon that may or may not even go to the event depending on how much stuff they manage to get into their truck.

As long as I get into the truck with my few possessions it will all be fine.

Yes, that is totally self-centered of me, what of it?

I was asked to also work next Friday, to help with the baby while the parents pack and load.  I figure, may as well, make that money while the sun shines.   I then thought, how the hell am I going to get over to them on a Friday morning commute rush with my Burning Man togs?

Then I realized I could probably just pack it all up, catch a ride with a friend into the city on Thursday and on load into their garage, crash in the guest room and just be there, present, and ready to roll out when they are.

Logistics.

They are getting worked out.

I am uncertain what hours I am nannying next week, yet to hear from my Tahoe family, but they should be coming back into town and I do recall a brief conversation in regards to scheduling and I think I may actually work a full week before departing.

This is good.

It will keep me busy.

I will have tomorrow and Thursday of this week to finish any prep I have.

Not much there.

I realized I need to get either more batteries for my camera or get a recharger for US electrical outlets.  The battery recharger I have for my camera is European.

Other than that, I really cannot think of anything.

Oh, well, my bike basket hasn’t come in yet, but what ever, if it doesn’t it won’t be a huge inconvenience, I am sure I can pick up something easy and quick.

I really am pretty ready.

Feels good, exciting, a turning point again.

As of this Burning Man I will have lived outside of San Francisco for a year.

Last year I moved out of the creepy little room I had on Folsom Street, put the few things I did not get rid of into storage at a friend’s house, then went to Burning Man, taking all my worldly possessions onto playa.

Getting back I spent the next two months house sitting Graceland and commuting into the bike shop.

Then there was that six months in Paris.

And then back here to Graceland for the last three months.

That makes a year, one year out of the eleven since I made the big geographic from Wisconsin to California.

One amazing year of learning, crying, glitter, growing, moving.

Only to do it all over again.

Had I to know how many trains, buses, bicycle rides, airplanes, taxis, and cars I was to take in this past year, the Metro, the RER, the BART, the MUNI, the on foot, the tunnels, the EuroSTAR, the terminals, escalators, elevators, and stairs I would climb, the logistical nightmare of it all would have spun me out.

Just show up and be present, I tell myself, it always works its way out.

Always.

 

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July 24, 2013

I took myself off the Burning Man early arrival board.

A. I have a ride.

B. I have better things to do with my time than pursue the odd configurations of how people get their stuff from where they live to where they will live for a few weeks.

It is good reading.

However, I get exhausted when I see an inbox full of e-mail.

I want that inbox spic and span.

Tidy like.

And I have a ticket.

Yup.

Got handed over the official “Cargo Cult” ticket today and my early arrival pass.

“Don’t lose that,” my employer said to me as I folded the two together and stuck them in a secret stash part of my wallet where I keep schedules on paper for places that can administer first aid to my aching head and all its attendant crazy.

“Also,” she said, half serious, half in jest, “please, don’t sell it.”

No way.

“What burn is this for you,” she asked me tonight as we headed from the Women’s Building on 17th and Valencia to the BART station on 16th and Mission.

Lucky number seven.

I still cannot believe that this will be seven.

Seven is spelled with style, yo.

I am going to be staying an Airstream.

I have food, water, transportation, ticket, early arrival.

“BANANA SEAT!”

The text read today.

What?

OH!

My new saddle showed up at the shop.

“Honey, you have to see this thing, it’s huge,” my friend from the shop said.

“Brian 3 did not even know what a banana seat was, he’d never heard of one, fuck me I am old.”

Me too.

“It really is huge,” he added.

Good, I am a size queen.

I can’t wait to get my paws on it.

I figure that will happen Friday.

I have a dinner date with John Ater then a speaking engagement at Our Lady of SafeWay.

Yes that reads correctly.

No, I don’t care to explain.

I meet with John at 6:30 p.m.

Plenty of time to come into the city, go to my friend’s place on 19th, scoop up my bike, and bring it over to the shop to have them install my huge saddle.

My great, big, triple thick, banana seat, I’m going to be riding a lot at Burning Man.

I do, actually believe that I will be riding my bike more than I have in years past.

I won’t be fluffing or working for folks who are doing the golf-cart thing.

I will have access to some sort of vehicle to take my charge to breakfast, lunch, dinner, or whatever meals I end up working with him, I am sure I won’t be pedaling across the playa with him in my bicycle basket.

Although that would be really cute.

My schedule is also a little nebulous at the moment, but it will all work out.

The one thing that I do believe I will do, aside from jump up and down and clap my hands when that seat goes on my cruiser bike (did I mention it is white and it has glitter?) is stop thinking that I have an idea of what money I am going to make at the event.

I have a number in my head, but I don’t know for certain how much I am going to work.

I will be there three weeks.

In my head that equals, five days on, two days off, three weeks in a row–15 shifts.

But it’s not the normal world.

There may be days when I work longer or shorter hours.

It’s the playa, and weird, wonderful, wacky shit happens out there.

So for me to sit, miniature accountant in my head and try to figure out how much I am going to make, is nuts.

Plain, old crazy making.

I am going to work and I am sure I shall work plenty.

But I cannot count my eggs this early in.

Suffice to say, I will be going, it will be splendid (and awful, and dusty, and there will be tears, there always are, and I will wonder, what the fuck am I doing and why is this important?  And then the magic will happen and I will fall in love with it all again, and this will happen over and over and over until I come home and collapse in a dusty heap to get all excited for the experience months later) and I will be taken care of.

The rest of this week I have nanny gigs, one tomorrow, one Thursday.

Then that’s it until Tuesday, one charge only, in Cole Valley.

Then nothing, until the following Tuesday, two charges, one day, Cole Valley.

Again, however, holding out for the miraculous.

The something awesome that is going to happen that I cannot predict or see or plan for, I can just show up for.

I am practising by saying yes.

In fact, I just made a commitment to show up somewhere late next Wednesday in Oakland.

It’ll be one of the few times I can.

I don’t really want to, but that’s besides the point, I get to, and I get to say yes.

I subscribe to the belief that I have to move forward open arms to this experience, rather than saying, I am going to freak because I don’t have work.

I have plenty of work, it just doesn’t always pay back the kind of dividends that can be found in a checking and savings account.

Sometimes the payoff is a fat ride and early arrival to Burning Man.

That is some heady coin.

Saying Yes to Something New

July 10, 2013

That would be passing on the tip-off that I got about an apartment in the Inner Richmond for $700 a month with a $500 deposit.

I don’t want to have a room-mate.

I want to have my own space.

I pondered the message I had gotten from my best friend back in Wisconsin, I looked over the photographs of the place, and I read the description.

Nothing said, “hey, that’s the place for me.”

In fact, I thought, no, I really do want to live out by the ocean.

I want to be able to walk to the beach.

I want to get sand between my toes and smell the thick fogged breath of sea salt and wood smoke and fish and rot and brine and I want to hear the waves bounding on the shore, pounding the heart beat of the moon into my dreams when I open the back door to my studio.

I want to live out in the Sunset.

I made the decision without much thought to pass on the information about the apartment to a dear friend that I know has been struggling to find a place in the city for the rent he can afford.

Part of me wants to compromise what I want, wants to take the cheaper space, and you know if it does come up that something better is out there for me, I will know, but it won’t be because of a price tag, or a belief that I cannot afford better.

It will be because it is a better fit.

I still find myself thrashing around with the idea of paying $1200 plus utilities for a studio, but really, in the San Francisco market, that’s actually a good price.

Despite the location.

It used to be that I would joke about having to charter a plane to get out to the Sunset when I lived in the Mission.

But having lived now for a few months, real months, months where I have been actively commuting in and around Oakland and not just from Graceland to the BART straight to SF, I see the Sunset as a relaxing, easy, mellow commute.

I want to continue to make these kinds of decisions, saying yes to things that scare me a little, or a lot, walking through the fear of not having enough and embracing the abundance the Universe really wants for me.

I have this desire tonight to write something pretty and poetic, full of whimsy and poesy and beauty.  I wanted to sit down and write something aching and yearning and tender.

Ain’t got it.

There is sometimes a feeling I get when I am at a turning point in my life where I either sink back into the romantic notions and fears, really it turns out that most of my fantasy life is built on fear, and I will get all woo woo and play old music and dance around and be full of angst.

But I am not feeling that.

I am feeling rather empowered, who knows why and I won’t question it, and it may change by the time I finish this post, but I do know that tricking myself into some sort of romantic delusion thinking is not the answer.

Which is where I was going with my let me live be the beach and be a mermaid.

No, I want to live by the beach and get dirty and smell like the sea and run through the fog and breathe it all in.

Six weeks from this Friday I leave for Burning Man.

Then when I get back, the first week of September, I will move into my studio.

A place barren of objects, clean, new, and ready for a new chapter of my life.

A vessel.

A crucible.

A place to hang my photographs and paintings.

A place to put a plant or two.

Yup, I am ready for it.

It’s just a room, but it will be my room, and I shall be autonomous and though my land lord will be living in the house upstairs, I don’t mind, she’s one of my good friends.

I am surprised I still have words left to say, my brain is a bit blown by the three babies I took care of today.

But it was an easier day than I had first thought it would be.

This morning when I was writing my three pages I called it “Baby Armageddon” but it turned out to be a day that surprised me with its easiness.

Not that is was easy per se, but it was not as untenable as I have had it be in the past.

Getting into a routine and really getting to know the babies has helped.

Now I have to gird the loins for when I ask for the raise.

Which is what is going to happen.

I realize, partially through being honest with myself, and partially through knowing the market, and also because I have not raised my rates in 5 years, that I am being underpaid.

I should be making more.

And when I move to San Francisco my cost of living is going to go way up.

I am not sure when to broach the subject, but I feel that I do need to.

Especially since I am attached to the little girl now and rapidly becoming enamoured with the two boys.

It weighs on my mind and I know I need to do it.

None of the families is going to give me a raise without me asking, although I did get a really cute Hello Kitty notebook from one of the moms today, tickled me pink it did.

Ah, well, I won’t be asking for a raise tomorrow, but it is on my mind.

It will need to be broached and August is probably the time to do it, that will put me at 90 days into the job and it will give the families time to think it over before Burning Man.

And should they say no, well, I have a great skill set, I don’t think I’ll have a problem finding better paying work.

I know that I will be taken care of no matter what.

I always have been.

Hump Day Indeed

July 4, 2013

Ugh.

Almost through this weird week.

Although I am not really, I still am at the house sit in Cole Valley/nanny gig.  BART why fore art thou deserted me?

On the up side I now have had a bit of a dry run with the family and I got a taste of what living on playa will be like, although I am sure it will still be different.

The man burns in 60 days!

Shaddup.

I got an updated e-mail in my messages today about all stuff Burning Man and that was one of the notes on it and I just about passed out.

It is at the same time not soon enough and far too soon.

I don’t have a ton of prep to do but it weighs on the mind and there are things that I do need to attend to and 60 days goes by quickly.

You thought this blog was going to be about sex, didn’t you.

Hump day.

I actually could not remember what day of the week it was today on a number of occasions.

They have all just blurred and melted into one another.

I got the keys to the next house sit, they were sweet as pie and dropped them off to me here in Cole Valley.  And my friend sent me a text from the Farmer’s Market asking me what he should stock the kitchen with.

I love me my friends.

I do.

On the other hand I tried to bite off a little more than I could chew today and took the two charges to the Whole Foods on Haight.

The parents have been out-of-town for the last bit, hence the house sitting (apropos of nothing, an aside, a darling lady told me yesterday, “you use big words” I realized I just used hence in a sentence, it just sort of popped out of my head, I wonder if I have used hence in an actual conversation, knowing myself I probably have, and a lot of profanity with it, hence, to fuck off.) and the cupboards were not bare, but they could use some stocking.

So off to the grocery store I went.

Which was not a pleasant experience.

The double stroller that I was using is not a practical double stroller.

If I am walking in a straight line, it’s ok, but if I need to make any kind of turn, it sucks.  It has a very stiff turning circumference, it reminded me of driving a car without power steering.

The Whole Foods in the Haight is a smallish store as well and full of tourists headed off to Golden Gate Park and locals getting their shop on.

I had planned on going to the store earlier, but nap time schedule did not allow for it.

When I got there, after unfolding the double stroller, the one perk of it, it folds in half (unfortunately it is challenging to unfold and I banged it my ankle so hard against it that I saw white.  Add to that the horribly stubbed, nearly broken–not exaggerating–toe I got yesterday and it’s been a painful week here in Cole Valley) it was nearly commuter time dinner hour shopping and the aisles were packed.

I got yelled at by a snotty check out kid, who, granted did not see the double stroller, he was busy waving down the next person in line.

I got to say I find it amusing that Whole Foods actually has someone who monitors the line and referees people.

“No!  Excuse me, miss, she was in line first,” the guy in the queue directing traffic nearly yanked the yoga mat out from under this woman’s arm.

“Thanks,” I said and pushed the stroller precariously loaded down with groceries for the house, two toddlers, one over packed diaper bag, and a waning supply of patience to the next check out person.

In no particular order, the guy at the register ahead of me was insulting, as I was blocking the line with the double stroller, the cashier triple charged me for something, the baby in the back threw over the brand new hat that grandma had given him from vacation in Canada and  the little girl pillage the soy teriyake fake jerky that was piled next to the register.

I got them out, got the groceries, donated my bag credit, all good Samaritan like, and strong armed the stroller out the door.

Only to discover the hat was missing about half way back to the house.

The conversation the mom had with me about the other nanny, who is phasing out, and I will be replacing, and how she lost the babies quilt on a walk rang through my head.

Frogs.

I had to wheel the 16 wheeler back to the store, back through the fog of pot smoke (god damn is it always this smokey in the Haight?) and into the maw of the store again.

The hat had been turned in!

I was not a bad nanny.

Not that you are a bad nanny when you have juggled two children all day, grocery shopped, and made roasted squash, cauliflower, and zucchini for the family.

Or did not drop the baby when you couldn’t open the stroller and instead banged it not once but twice on your ankle.

Or did not drop the baby when you smash your foot so hard into the bottom step, wooden step with mean pointy cornice, that you break the skin, it swells up, looks mean and bruised and you are now wearing a Hello Kitty band-aid on it.

It was Hello Kitty or Mickey Mouse.

You know what the choice had to be.

It’s been a long week.

I am working tomorrow–the family is Canadian–what Fourth of July?

But I said I would and I am here in the city any how, hell I am in their house, so whatever.

Then Friday.

Sometime tomorrow after the nanny’ing is done I will transition to the Castro.

I don’t think the mom needs me for the whole day and I want to scoot sooner rather than later.  I am also kind of hoping to actually not work Friday, I feel in need of a break.

Either way, one more evening here, then onto the next place.

When I finally do move into my own place I am not going to know how to act.

Until then, just taking it moment to moment.

And trying to not bash myself on anything else tonight.

 

How the Hell Did I Miss

June 13, 2013

That exit?

Jesus.

So much for getting to Graceland and back in a timely manner.

That was nuts.

And is it just me or is Oakland going the fuck off tonight?

Maybe it’s just me.

Maybe it’s always going off.

But I have never seen so much police action, hooker action, drug dealing action, and just plain action, action going down.

I was also wired up.

Nerves.

I got to the house sitting gig, took care of the cute cats, checked the list of things that needed to be done for the house, took a deep breath, and got my Google maps loaded in my phone.

I took the keys to the car, hopped in and headed out.

I made the right turn, the left turn, the get onto the highway and then I apparently missed the off ramp turn.

The next thing you know I am in fucking Orinda.

And that ain’t East Oakland.

I got myself off the highway, Google mapped my way back and missed the fucking turn off again.

Screw this.

I however remembered to do a few things.

“Breathe!” I said to myself out loud in the car.

I took a deep breath and looked out ahead of me and watched the moon slide across the sky, a low, crescent-shaped, creamy yellow cusp–a fairy tale moon.

Now when would I ever have seen that in my driving about if I had not gotten turned around and lost?

I would not have seen it and the image is seared in my brain it was so lovely.

As I headed back the way I had come, and then some, suddenly heading toward San Francisco, which is also not East Oakland, I just laughed and hit the Telegraph exit.

I actually ended up back tracking about ten blocks from where I started.

Screw it.

I was not getting on the freeway again.

I took the long way through town.

So what if I have to fill up the car with gas, it was worth it to not bother with trying to map my way back via the freeways.

And if I have been grateful before to not be working the corners in East Oakland, West Oakland, downtown Oakland and all places Oaklandish, I was even more so tonight.

At one intersection, I believe it was International Ave and 15th, there was a cluster fuck of traffic.  A cop had pulled into the middle of the intersection, cherries flashing, doors open, an a tall white male, maybe 40, was chasing a prostitute through the intersection.

I could not tell if he was coralling her toward the squad car, another officer on the side-walk or just playing tag, it was surreal, almost comical, the prostitute weaving in and out of the intersection, the number of cars trying to cross through, the cop wasn’t even moving that fast, he just plodded after the hooker, and the entire scene bathed in red and blue lights.

All I could think about was getting to Graceland, getting my shit together, getting out, and getting back to the house sitting gig so that I could write my blog so that I could get to bed so that I could get up and nanny in the morning and do a few things for my other job before I start-up with the nanny.

I got to Graceland, without incident, without hitting anyone, man people just pop out into the intersection, willy nilly, pedestrians every where, felt like being in a video game, and for the first time since I have been back, I was spooked at the house.

Something banged out in the yard, cat, raccoon, who knows, but after the drive I was a little shattered and I jumped.

Meh.

No one is in the house, I turned off the alarm when I got there, and reset it immediately, but I was spooked and I flew about gathering my things.

I don’t know that I did the best at getting what I needed, I think I grabbed too many pairs of socks and not enough underwear, but I got my toothbrush and toiletries, my laptop and my cell phone charger, took care of the kittens and got out and back on the road.

I took the long way back through town, I did not even bother to try to map out the way on the highway, I was not going to risk getting lost.

And now I am here, not lost, typing away, making plans for tomorrow.

Grateful those plans include a nap.

One charge in the morning, who will nap early in the afternoon.  One charge later in the evening who will go to bed two hours before I leave.

I have pockets of time to do some work for the design firm and sneak in a snooze if I need to.

Because I am still wide awake and a little jazzed up from the drive.

Grateful I am not dancing around an intersection being cajoled by a cop to get my crack addled ass out-of-the-way of oncoming traffic.

Grateful I got to see that moon all soft smoke romance and hazy lit with promise.

Grateful I did not haul all my shit over on my bike.

Grateful I have money to fill up the gas tank.

Grateful that my friend Calvin got me an extra coffee at Sight Glass today, I needed the hit of caffeine.  That I had a lovely meal with a darling lady bug at Cha Ya, that I got to hug and kiss a sweet as cherry pie second grade graduate as she was sung lullabies by her mama to sleep.  That I had a cup of ginger lemon tea with my friend and said, please, let me help you out on Friday.

Grateful that I get to help.

Whether it is nannying, writing, or sharing some of my experience with another.

Or just laughing with my friends over various cups of tea and coffee.

My life, even when I am lost, is amazing.

Logistical Nightmare

May 23, 2013

That’s what my brain says when it gets overloaded.

I was trying to manage everyone’s schedule and not succeeding.

Shocker that.

I also was realizing that I am a commodity and if you want me you have to work with me.  There are certain things I can do and certain things I cannot do.

I cannot figure out the logistics of three children for one day.

I tried.

I know there’s a solution, but I am not capable of providing it at the moment.

I am plum fucking tuckered out.

I was tired the minute I saw the e-mail.

I was tired the moment I tried to tell one family what the other families intentions and needs were.  I got more tired and then teary and then, yes, I cried in front of my employer.

I lost my train of thought, I could not make eye contact and tears just slipped and slid down my face.

“I’m a crier,” I said with a self-deprecating shrug of my shoulders.

“Just so you know, this will happen on the occasion, but I won’t break down in front of the kids, I promise.”

Which is true she was already down for naps having fallen asleep in my lap while I was reading a Doctor Seuss alphabet book to her with the sounds of the ocean on the noise machine in the nursery.

I tried to see my way into a little perspective this evening.

Let’s see today is day 22 since being back from Paris.

It feels like year 22.

I got in on May 1st.  In that time I interviewed with and met four different kids and four different sets of families.  I also moved into a “new” neighborhood with all the challenges therein, got over a horrendous case of jet lag, gone in and out of the city to talk with folks, meet with folks, and do those things that need to be done.

I have logged a lot of miles on my bicycle, house sat in a strange house for eleven days, agreed to pick up another house sitting gig, baby sat for friends, did a sit down at another table for the job I actually want to be doing, and gone grocery shopping a few times.

Note to self, there has got to be a better way.

I feel entirely stretched too thin.

And not thin enough, literally, at the same time.

I have to breathe and just know that whatever happens I am not going to die and I am not going to be a nanny for the rest of my life and yes it is awesome that people want to work with me, it is an ego feeding proposition, but when I am working this hard to stay just there, just sustaining, I am in the exact same place I was in Paris.

This is too hard.

That is what this feels like.

Too hard.

Too much bicycle riding past people with jacked up tires and loud sound systems that are not paying attention to the road conditions.

“Sweet Jesus,” I shouted and swerved to the right, “are you trying to kill me?”

“Damn, he almost hit you,” said the girl in the car as I pedaled on.

He was not even on International, it was Telegraph or Broadway, somewhere fair and pretty and innocuous, or so I thought, it was too early in the day for the swerving and I just slowed it down, just slow it down.

I have what feels like too much and not enough.

I also am living in Tuesday.

Today is Wednesday and who knows what will happen between today and next Tuesday.

I don’t have to.

I don’t have to figure it out.

I don’t have to manage it.

There are six adults to the three kids I will be responsible for, there is one place where I will watch them, they can all figure out the pick up and drop offs.

And nap times.

Well, that will be my responsibility.  And he won’t be sleeping in the stroller the whole time either.  Just the thought of having three kids to wrangle and this one only naps in the stroller while this one naps in the carrier strapped to your body while you push the other kid around makes me want to vomit up the banana I just ate.

That would be a waste, my body needs the potassium, I feel depleted from the bike riding.

There was also the thinking that I would not be able to have my bike on BART during the morning rush hour commute.  To get to Graceland in East Oakland to the house in Cole Valley by 8:45 a.m. made me cringe at the thought of how early am I going to be getting up to get there.

I can’t do this shit for very long.

Either I work harder, how, fuck if I know, or work smarter, again, not too sure what that looks like, or I give myself a break, I am going to have to or I am going to crack.

I also know that this is all change and not knowing what things look like and where they are going and not having a set routine in place yet leads to squirrels chasing none existent nuts in my head.

The only thing I want to do is sit down with my friend who wants me to work for her and learn the ins and outs of what she needs.  The better to show me what I need.

Yet, to do that I need to be self-sufficient here, now, and take care of getting up and running with the money.

I accept the consequences of my actions.

Going to Paris broke my bank and I am just going to have to suck it up and work it out.

This is not going to last.

There is nothing wrong.

My head says I cannot possibly do this.

And I probably could not for very long.

But I can for a just a little bit longer.

 

Spa Day

April 24, 2013

After the trains, buses, planes, and various Metro lines I took yesterday, both in Rome and in Paris, I was pretty tuckered out.

So much so that when the offer was made to me to come over to a friend’s house and stay while she was away in the states for the week, I balked.

No.

I don’t want to get back on a Metro to transfer to another Metro to hop on the RER C and head out to Vitry-Sur-Seine.

I want to cry in my tea and put my head down on the table and give the fuck up.

I felt done in.

Then the realization hit that my room-mate had a friend coming into town who was going to be staying for the next week, ie until I left back for the states, and perhaps getting on another round of trains was not such a bad idea after all.

I said yes, let me get myself together, drink a cup of tea and re-pack the bag I had just unpacked.

It took me an hour to unwind my frazzled self, a spot of food, what was left in the house before my adventures in Rome–potatoes–and two mugs of tea and I was ready to hit the road, Jack, once again.

When the hell am I going to slow down, I thought to myself as I transferred from Line 7 to Line 10 to the RER C at Gare d’Austerlitz, I shifted my bags and opened to the door to the train and stepped onto the platform.

How many platforms did I cross yesterday?

Express Bus 40 to the Trevi Fountain; Metro Line A to Termini; platform 34 on the Leonardo Express; the plane from Rome To Paris; RER B from Charles de Gaulle International airport to Gare du Nord in Paris; walk down the hill to the house, then back out the door to Metro Line 7 to Metro line 10 to RER C off at Les Ardoines, walk to the house.

Whew.

I was ready to sit the fuck down.

Apparently I was ready to sleep too.

I did that in spades.

I slept until 11:30 a.m.

It felt like much later, as the house has black out blinds in the living room where I was crashed out on the couch.

“You could always couch surf, you know,” he said to me this evening, the light golden and rich, haloed his blonde hair and his eyes sparkled with a bit of sexy French man charm.

“I could,” I replied, “I am in fact now, couch surfing, despite having rent paid at my place, the opportunity to be in a more spacious environment was given to me, so I took it.”

“I have,” I repeated, “done a lot of couch surfing, and you know, I’m about done with it.”

“Are you moving back in with your parents,” she said and leaned toward me eager to hear my response.

I just about spat out my tea.

“Uh, no,” I said, “that’s never really been an option, although, my parents have lived with me from time to time.”

“Oh,” she said, and stumbled around looking for the next thing to say.

I stepped in and saved her the embarrassment of assumption, “I’ll be staying with friends when I go back,” I concluded and looked up to see another friend coming toward me to kiss my cheeks.  Saved from the continuation of the awkward conversation I turned my complete attention to him, as he sprinkled me with “Ciao Bella’s”.  We hugged and caught up.  I am going to miss some people here, I surely am.

“You look beautiful,” he said to me.

I should, I thought, I got so much sleep and then instead of running out the door and trying to cram some last moments of Paris into the last week I am here, I gave myself a spa day.

Plucked, waxed, shaved, showered, deep conditioned the hair, manicure, pedicure.

While my nails were drying I nibbled a salad of raw vegetables and green olives and sat on the porch in the sunlight and read a book.

Life is not so hard when I stop the struggling.

I do need to focus on getting my feet beneath me, I know this quite well, I do not want to live on the generosity of my friends, I do not want to be a taker, I want to give.

We sat on the banks of the Seine tonight, reading from a book, passing the pages back and forth, talking about the wisdom expressed, sharing our experiences.  The sunset, firing her hair with red-gold and smothering us in love.  “I cannot say how much this means to me,” I said, tears forming in my eyes, “to be here, in Paris, sharing my experience, getting to work with you, on the banks of the Seine at sunset.”

What gifts I have been given.

What a life I get to lead.

Relaxed and at ease, and having an awesome hair day, if I do say so myself, I know that these next few days will have moments of fear, of challenge, perhaps of anxiety, but I believe, I truly do, that I am only going up from here.

The book I was reading today on the porch while my toenails dried in the warm French breeze, finally! Was Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides.

There was a quote that caught me,  “to go forward, you have to go back to where you began.”

That is exactly what this feels like.

I am going forward by going back.

I am no failure for having come here, despite the financial repercussions of my actions.  If anything, they are showing me exactly what I want and knowing that I can begin to change the habits and patterns that do not work for me and find a way forward.

“We will stay close,” he said to me tonight, looking deep into me.  I felt my heart breaking open, breaking wider, allowing in even more love, I love you my dear, I do so very much.  “I will read your words, I will be close, we will see each other again.”

And we will.

Here in Paris.

Or on the playa.

Or where ever the Universe decides to drop me next.

Just hoping it is not on a couch, but in a room, a place to call my own for a while, to grow forward to make my way, to bloom with brightness and love the way the trees along the Seine were blooming tonight.

“I love you,” I said into her hair and the shell of her ear, “I love you so much,” we hugged good-bye and I plunged down the steps to the train station, another platform to cross another rail to ride.

Here in Paris.

Six more days.

Train Traveling Blues

April 23, 2013

“Did they check your ticket on the train into Rome?” She asked me as we headed into the maw of the Metro.

“No,” I said, “as a matter of fact, they did not and I kept it.”

I like to keep ticket stubs and museum passes, stamps, post cards, paper bits and pieces that I glue into my little journals.  I look back and have an instant souvenir, a sense memory of where I was.

I was also thinking that I may act the stupid American and just pretend to use it as my ticket back.

Stupid is right.

I got a ticket.

I got a ticket for not having a ticket.

I got a 50 Euro fine.

Cue tears.

I ain’t got that kind of money honey.

Mortifying.

“You know, I just want to do the correct thing, the sober thing,” I said to my friend, although I was actively weighing the pros and cons.

We boarded the Metro and I let the thought stew in my brain.

She got off at her stop and I continued onto mine.

I shifted my bags in front of me, the pick pocket action in Rome is no joke.  Then I got off at my stop.  I closed my eyes and asked for direction and I heard, “pay”.

Then I thought of “think, think, think,” and I heard “pay” a second time.

Then a third.

Ok.

I got the picture.

No, apparently there was more, I suddenly got the image of a policeman in my head checking tickets on the train and how that felt handing over the invalid ticket.

Did I listen to my gut?

No.

I made a fear based decision.

I got onto the platform and it was so busy and crazy and people coming and going and I let myself get overwhelmed.  I saw a Interpol and I asked him which way the train was to the airport.  He pointed out to me platform 34.  I walked over.  The crowds started to thin and there it was, a ticket seller.  I looked at it.  I thought about it.  I pulled out my ticket and held it in my hand.  I pretended to be nonchalant.  I thought about the groceries I could buy with the 14 Euro.  I did not go buy a new ticket.

When the train pulled in I boarded.

No ticket taker.

I relaxed, watched the scenery go by, pulled out my notebook and began to write my morning pages.

“Ticket please,” I was startled up from writing my affirmations in my notebook, no, hahahaha, I was actually writing a gratitude list.

Even fucking better.

I could feel my heart beat and my skin blushed and I dug around in my purse and handed the woman my ticket.

She shook her head.

She pointed out that the ticket was for going to Rome not leaving from Rome.

I apologized and said I could I pay for the ticket now.

“Si.”

64 Euro.

I did not catch that.

I handed her 15 Euro, the last bit I had in my wallet, and waited for the 1 Euro change.

She gestured to the seat next to me and sat down and said not enough, I handed her my card, and she began charging it.

I saw the 64 Euro charge come up on the screen.

“64?” I asked flabbergast.

“Yes, 14 for the ticket and 50 for the fine,” she plugged in numbers into the little machine.

“I don’t have it, I’m sorry, I said, I don’t have that much in my account,” tears of abject horror fell down my face.

So much for not listening to my gut.

I do not need to learn this again.

She smacked the machine around, it wasn’t getting a signal, and I am not certain she understood exactly what I was saying about there not being the money in my acccount.

“Not working,” she said, “we go to station and run card there, you wait for me.”

“Yes,” I nodded abashed, ashamed, horrified, I turned toward the window and watched the high blue sky fly by stacked with soft cottony clouds and the green grass waving in the wind, the umbrella pines unfolding on the horizon and the bright graffiti that was scrawled on the walls of the station we had just passed.  I had a moment of panic, then thought, ok, what are they going to do?

Throw me in the pokey?

Kick me out of Italy?

There was nothing to do but man up and face what was about to happen.  I was not going to make a run for it.  I am too damn conspicuous as it is, and I would offer again to pay the ticket and if I needed to send money from the states when I get back, so be it.  I settled against the chair and apologized to myself and to the Universe for not listening and for allowing myself to be in fear instead of faith.

When we got to the station I sat and waited for her to return.

She gestured to me to follow and she led me to a money machine.  I explained once again that I did not have the money in my account.  I have money in the account, $36 American, but not 50 Euro.  I showed her my balance and I started to cry again and I apologized.  She looked at me with some mixture of pity and compassion, of which I will not question whether there was contempt in there whatsoever, patted my arm and gestured to me to follow her.

I followed her to the ticket vendor, she had a conversation in rapid Italian with the woman behind the glass, a ticket was hand written out, I was asked for 14 Euro, I handed over the 15 Euro I had in my wallet, said “grazi” and took my train ticket.  I walked away chastised and small and fervent with desire to not travel like this again.

Neither to be in fear of not having enough, I had it, I had it in spades, with one Euro to spare.

I got to the airport, found the terminal, checked into my flight, printed off the boarding pass and went and sat in the lounge eating a bag of pistachio’s and drinking a bottle of Pellegrino I bought at the concessions stand.  I found my seat, said good bye to Rome, and vowed, should I ever come back, I mean I did toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain, that I would come back fiscally responsible.

I realize with more than a little ego smashing and some chagrin, that I do not like living this close to the bone.

I just don’t.

I think I have hit some sort of financial bottom, one that I have played out again and again and again.

I want to be a successful writer and I want to be able to travel again and I want a job.

I don’t care what job.

I just want to pay the bills, pay rent, not scrabble so much for the money.

Money does not equate happiness and I know this, but for some reason or another I continue, have continued for the last 8 years to really be on the low end of the money scale.  The one time I was making some decent dough I hated my job so much it was not worth staying at.

There has to be a happy medium.

I will be able to do what I want–write, photography, travel–and have some security.

I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

When I got home I received a phone call to come out and stay at a friends house while they are in the states–fully stocked fridge, huge tub, internet, Netflix, cable, large screen television, the whole she-bang.

I did not have to worry about groceries at all.

Plus, I have the house sitting to go to this weekend.

I am taken care of, even when I cannot see it.

So, no more fear based decisions, just faith.

I believe this will change and here’s to that happening.

Now.

In Paris.

And soon to be in the Bay.


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