Posts Tagged ‘West Oakland’

A Good Cry

July 12, 2017

And then back to living.

I saw my therapist today.


A psychotherapist has a therapist.

Especially since I am a therapist in training, although, let me tell you, I felt like a therapist today, seeing clients, filing paperwork, checking all the boxes, circling all the things that needed to be circled and doing the work.

I can get super caught up in how much longer this road is and how the hell am I ever, I mean, ever, going to get 3,000 hours, but I can’t, I just can’t focus on that.

One hour at a time.

Fortunately I have some practice living a day at a time and when I reflect on how those days add up and all my accomplishments have come in small increments, but come they have, then I don’t have to get too caught up in the numbers.

It’s just a numbers game and I’m doing it the best I can as fast as I can without killing myself in the process.

I mean.

I still have to process all my own stuff, plus carrying around my clients in my head.

I do that now.

I have them in my head and sometimes I will think about them and once in a while I have a momentary flash, a connection, a thought or feeling and a little aha moment, that feels pretty special.



I do have to process my own stuff too, I have to look at my own emotional life sift through the chafe and dander and see what is needing to seen and what is needing to be let go.

I knew.

For instance.

I needed to titrate my social media intake today.

I woke up a bit emotionally hung over.

I cried a lot yesterday.

On and off all day, with one really big cry in the evening when I was talking with my person on the phone and going over the shock of what had happened and how the death of my friend had not just hit me, but many others, the numbers of people who showed up to be present for each other and for the family of the deceased was extraordinary.

Not to mention all the people in so many other places he had affected, who’s lives he had touched–Portland, Seattle, Memphis, New York, Los Angeles, Austin, Oakland.


I can hear him saying “West Oakland” in my head and such joy at his goofiness suffuses me.

For he was joyful.

Oh sure, sad and fucked up and scared and young and insecure, who hasn’t been those things, but also bright and kind and funny and so there for you and warm and sweet and musically talented.

Oh the music the world has lost.


Seeing all the pictures, all the photographs, all the expressions of heartbreak, my social media feed was just awash in tears and sadness.

I really had to not look after a while.

And I knew when I woke up having felt puffy eyed and sluggish and a bit off kilter that I wasn’t going to allow myself to wallow in the emotionalism of social media.

I needed coffee, some ibuprofen, and a good breakfast.

Sounds like a hangover, right?

Except instead of booze or blow it was emotion.

And as I expressed to my therapist today after plopping down on her couch and telling her I was going to cry and then immediately doing so, I also realized that some, a lot of the emotion I had in my body, on my heart, in my head, was not mine.

It was the communities.

And I’m grateful.

Really grateful.

I got to feel it and touch into it.


I could not continue swimming in it any longer.

So I talked it out, processed it, linked it to other things, made traverses, expressed emotions, cried a lot in the beginning, but by the middle of my session I was going other places.


It was all interconnected.

I am good at making connections.

And it was honest and insightful.

I am pretty good at those things too.

Not always.

I am a work in progress, people, don’t expect perfection, I am far, far, far from perfect.


I am loving and kind and sweet, I would hazard.

I am compassionate and more importantly, I am empathetic.

Sometimes too much and I get overextended and I give too much, I have been trained well in that way of life, being my mom’s caretaker, taking care of my sister, my oldest niece, an ex-boyfriend of five years who might as well have been my mother for all the caretaking he required, but I have grown a lot.

Oh, so fucking much.

And I know when I need to caretake and when the other person needs to do the job their own damn self.

And there’s no irony that I am in the care taking profession.

A. I am a nanny, I care take all day long.

B. I am a psychotherapist.

But it’s not my job to care take as a therapist and that’s a really intriguing thing for me.

I am also not there to make my client feel better, to sugar coat, or to shoo away uncomfortable feelings.

Uncomfortable feelings need to happen.

There’s nothing wrong with them.

I like to look at them as signposts, directions, “hey this thing you do, it doesn’t work for you.”

For instance.

There’s nothing wrong with anxiety or depression.

They are signs that the way things are going, the tools being used for living, well they might not be working so well.

I mean.

Booze was one hell of an amazing solution for me.


It was not.

So was cocaine.

My God.

I remember the first time I did a line of good blow.

It was like I had all the answers.

ALL of them.

And I was fine with the way those answers were conveyed and I rather scoffed at a friends warning that perhaps I like that drug a little more than was perhaps healthy.



But when those solutions failed I had to find a better way, a different way and there was depression there and there was anxiety and all sorts of other juicy psychological terms and conditions.

And slowly.

One step at a time.

I got to change what I did.

What I ingested.

What I thought and felt.

For something else.

I was given a significant solution to my problem.

Of course.

I won’t tell that to a client, they have to find their own way, I think that I am a mirror, an attachment figure, a person who can and will have to withstand the disappointments and anger and discomfort of others so that they can learn how to use that information and devise their own solution.

Therapy is not for symptom relief.

Just like alcohol, ultimately, and every other drug I took, weren’t for symptom relief.

I had to find a different way.

And I did.

And today when I walked out of my therapist office I felt a lightness and a joy.

I am alive.

I am not guilty for being alive

I have so much joy and passion in my life, such happiness, I felt light and though there is still sadness for the loss of this beautiful person, I have also a deeper connection to how alive I want to be and how alive I am allowed to be.

To be alive, in this moment, sober, and free.

It is amazing.



Moved beyond words for my experiences and this amazing place I have been lead to.


So very grateful.

Thank you for being a part of my journey.

May it bless you too.

Sight Seeing

July 11, 2013

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

I see beauty all over the place.

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

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

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

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

Especially to the writer in me.

The things that caught my eye today:

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

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

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

The manicured lawn on Market at 41st.

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

But then who’s crazy now?

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I almost want to test that out.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I mean off.

“Nigger get the fuck off me, bitch.”

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

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


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

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

Two blocks away.

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

Looked like arugula and figs.

Hard to tell.

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

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

I just ignored it and focused on riding.

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

36 minutes from door to door.

Not bad.

Especially as how it was such a colorful ride home.

How the Hell Did I Miss

June 13, 2013

That exit?


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.


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.


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.

Sappy Pants

November 26, 2011

I had a date.

It rocked.

I will have another date.

I am excited.

He is cute.

He thinks I am cute.

There was so much chemistry I am surprised that we didn’t just get it on in the middle of Four Barrel this afternoon.  But we were able to practise some restraint.  It reminded me of the last scene in White Palace when James Spader bends Susan Sarandon over a table in the middle of the restaurant and makes out with her under neath his top coat.

Uh yeah, I could have done that in a heart beat.  Especially after I got the hug good-bye and he just barely brushed the side of my neck with a little kiss and then smelled me (Dude.  He smelled my hair.)

Um, oh my god.  Do it again!

It was a really good thing that my friend Shannon was meeting me at 3:30 pm to make sure that no nakedness ensued.  I have a feeling that I will need to keep upcoming dates bracketed with other like commitments, just to ensure that I keep my hands to myself for the appropriate amount of time.  I want to go on a bunch of dates before we get hot and heavy.

I am not worried about chemistry.

There was chemistry galore.

But I also want compatibility.

We speak a common language, which is really helpful, and we have a very similar kind of family history, which is also helpful.  He loves animals and has a dog (and he likes cats too).  I love animals and have cats (and adore dogs).  We are both employed, this is good. We have both been in long term relationships of five years, also a good sign.  We both are interested in only dating one person at a time, also very good.  He has a vehicle (a pick up truck, which is extremely sexy, I love a man with a pick up truck), but prefers to not drive and rides his bike most everywhere or uses public transportation.  Had I not already reserved the U-haul he would be at my place Sunday to help me move–his offer, I did not even ask!

I may take him up on the offer though for a latter moving date, if there are successive successful dates in the future, I will be needing help to move come January.

Side Bar-I am in need of a room for January my fellows, preferably in the Mission/Bernal/Potrero areas, great consideration will also be given to Castro/Noe/Hayes Valley/SOMA/Downtown areas as well.  Fuck, who the hell am I kidding?  You got a room and will let me have my cats, I want it.

$600 that is what I can afford.  At least at today’s current pay rates.  I am optimistic that the money will be coming in, so that may be a temporary number, but for the time being that’s what I am looking at.  Yeah, I know, that’s a crazy number for this city, but I have faith.  Oh yes I do.  So if you hear of anything, drop me a line, send up a wire, e-mail my ass, send up a smoke signal, but let me know!

Tomorrow is also my side-walk moving sale.  I will be out front of my building from 10 a.m. until dusk.  Come and get it.  1302 Taylor Street @ Washington.  Come hang out and have a cup of coffee with me and wave at the tourists going by on the cable cars if you’re not into buying anything–the cars are really adorable right now, they just all got their Christmas clothes on, very cute.

Back to sappy land–he’s employed full time and in school getting his pre-requisites out-of-the-way for nursing school.  Hotness, a man with a plan and a goal.  I like.

Oh yeah, and he’s hot–kind of reminds me of a rough and tumble Alexander Skaarsgard, albeit a little shorter, he’s taller than I, but just barely, which is enough for me.  And quite charming.  And vulnerable.  And fucking yummy.

Good lord I am smitten.  One coffee date and presto–smitten kitten.

Take it slow is what I am telling myself.  There is no need to rush in and I want to be courted.  Nothing will make me happier than to be courted.  I want flowers and manners and open the fucking door.  Treat me nicely and I will do the same for you.  Hell, I am really good at taking care of people and putting out the welcome mat, I am a great girlfriend.  I cook, I bake, I am an excellent masseuse, I am observant and pay attention and I buy the right gifts.

I also have a mouth that screams blow job according to my best friend, not that any men out there are interested in that, I mean, are they?


So, I expect to be taken care of and treated right.  The store is no longer giving out samples.  You want it you have to buy it.  That means show up, respectfully, politely, chivalrously, and yea shall you be richly rewarded.

Funny thing, though, I got the impression he’s one of those that does not even need to be dropped the hint.  I love that he approached me.  He remembered me from six years ago (we briefly interacted and I recalled when I finally placed where I knew him from, that at the time I had a crush on him) and was very flattering about the recollections.  I love that he asked me for my number, followed that with I would like to take you to coffee.  And he followed through.

Follow through is good.  A confirmation text later  was received and a time set for a contact today.  He set the place, bought the coffee and escorted me to the table.  And he was a charming, sexy, flirtatious, hang on my words date.

My kind of man.

I know enough of my history to move slowly and take my time.  Part of the reason I am writing all this out.  A gentle reminder to self that I can get sex when ever I want, I think any one can really, if you put that out there.  But this go around, well, I want more. I want courtship, romance, and love.


I said the “l” word.  I did not do every fucking exercise in Calling in the One to get laid.  No, I did not.  I did it because I want to get married and have children.

Eek.  Run, run for the hills young man.

I want a relationship that is built on more than just sexual chemistry.  And I am willing to feel like I’m crawling out of my skin with desire for some one as long as I manage to sit on my hands for a while to find out if there is something behind the chemistry–vulnerability, intimacy, conversation, mutual goals, beliefs, and values.  I don’t need a clone of myself and I don’t need some one to complete me.

I want some one who will compliment me.  Salt to my pepper, so to speak.

Only draw back so far is that he lives in West Oakland.

For the moment, however, I don’t really see that as a draw back, it’s actually a damn good thing that he does not live in San Francisco, it might make it too easy to act out. Or make out.

I chose, for today, anyhow, to proceed with caution and let the chemistry simmer.  It just gets more delectable anyhow, slow cooking does that you know.

And in the mean time I will just walk around with a sappy ass smile on my face for a little while longer.

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