Tag Archives: Felton

Feb 2020 – 4 Blog Posts in One

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One month in my Nor Cal home and it was already time to turn around and head back to the one in So Cal. That wasn’t going to happen, though, without one more misty-eyed hike in those beloved mountains, eating a yummy vegan polenta at Cafe Gratitude in Santa Cruz while getting some writing in and then some hang time with Brigit and Aaron.
On my way out of town the next day, I picked up some photos I had laminated for a ladder I was making for one of my Burning Man campmates, Ish, after a touching story he had shared about his having carried out a ladder to the temple the previous year and how he planned to do every year after. It was my first piece of art for the playa and, even if it didn’t end up moving him the way I was hoping, I was quite proud of it.
Home and already back in for an oil change within 24 hours. Taking advantage of the location of my mechanic, I decided to get Korean food for lunch as a trial run, which ended up being quite the foreshadow of how I was to feel about the food it S Korea. Especially the banchan. I didn’t know what most of it was and didn’t like a lot of it, either. I had already been dreading all the seaweed and seafood but that made me even more nervous. At least there was BBQ. Heading home from there, it was time to put up flyers on neighbor’s doors for the block party that weekend that just so happened to fall on my birthday. That wasn’t the original reason I came home, though. It was because a lover was coming to visit. He had even mailed a fun card to me and Jenny about being excited.
The card was super cute but it didn’t stop the feelings of being back and forth about his coming that had been going on for a while. I was overwhelmed with everything regarding S Korea (my recruiter had been upping the stress level x 10) and, more than anything, I had mixed feelings because of the lame way he had given me shit for coming to his hotel and the imaginary drama he had created between me and others during his last visit. At the end of the day, we met in the middle when he still came but got his own hotel. It was fun at first; I really did like a lot about him. Right away I took him to Wonderland for the great sunset but it was the next day when I took him my favorite, our local farmer’s market, that I really felt like I was showing him my world. I don’t know why it’s so entertaining to watch someone who can eat a lot but it was a blast watching him try so much different food. I left him to do his own thing most days while I worked and took care of other business. Also so I didn’t get overwhelmed and panic, as I tended to do. We were together, though, from the evenings on. Our grand finale of a last night started out fun. Meeting up with a friend of mine, acquaintance to him, at the hotel in Liberty Station that she worked and was hooking him at, we took advantage of the free happy hour while waiting for her to get off and then headed to Stone Brewery for a couple drinks. Hot tubbing back at the hotel after that, we then wandered the streets aimlessly with us ladies dancing, sharing a bottle of wine and shaking a tambourine as he sang with that Midwest accent while playing his mini guitar. It may be the closest I’ll ever get to being in a glam-rock music video.
Things took a turn when my girl initiated a threesome. It wasn’t necessarily where my head was at but I thought it would be a cool experience for him since he was so much older and had never had one. I knew he had been married for a long time but still…he was a musician. Most of the other creatives and free spirits I knew had a similar mentality to mine of being a little bit more…adventurous in bed. I supposed being a white male of the baby boomer generation who hailed from the Midwest, all flags that came with some good, created a different scenario. My already being someone with limited patience, something that had been shortened not only from the shit he had pulled previously but even beyond that from exhaustion, I had next to no tolerance for any screw-ups. That meant that I was extra pissed when he left me in the bed to follow my girl into the other room when we were done where she was going to pass out. Still, he was a newbie to it and it wasn’t an uncommon new blunder so I decided I would tolerate it. What I couldn’t tolerate was when he then proceeded to lecture me as if I was in the wrong after he had been shocked to see me start to get dressed. After 7 or 8 minutes of that, I couldn’t take it anymore and I bailed. I would have earlier but I didn’t want to leave her passed-out when she might wake up and freak about my not being there. Which she did an hour later when he tried to snuggle up on her. Well, I went and picked her up and we had our own damn slumber party at my house. Fucking clueless, man. Exhausted and feeling all kinds of negative emotions about his actions the next day, his calls got no love.
It was time for me and my daddy to head to Barona Casino. It was always fun to watch him at the casino, even if I didn’t like to gamble. Constantly having to remind myself that I wasn’t just throwing away money, it was really about spending time together doing something that made him happy, it was worth it. The day after that was my and my neighbor’s low-key block party with just a few of us, my birthday being a sidenote. Well, it was supposed to be but it ended up turning into major drama with others unfortunately. Enough to need it’s own blog post and for Nikki and I to stop talking for God knows how long. *face palm*
Uncomfortable as ever, I headed to the fam’s a couple days later where Mom proceeded to give me the birthday present of a big jacket, boots, gloves and other things she was worried about my having what with me moving somewhere it snowed. It was cute.
With Ishe’s ladder done and packed, it was time to head back up north three days later on the 13th for what may have been the shortest turn around between my two homes to date. It was once again time to meet up with someone coming into town. That time there were no mixed feelings, though. I was excited! A friend from the burn two years before, Minty Crash, had just arrived for her 40th birthday celebration and boy was it ever that! Planning to stay with her the whole time, I joked that her boyfriend and I were the birthday backup dancers (it was also his around the same time) as well as my goodbye. Whatever it was, it was also one hell of a staycation that was much needed and DEFINITELY it need of it’s own blog post. Stay tuned for next week! I’ll tell ya, I’ve never seen a birthday blowout like that. Shit, I’m not sure I’ve experienced that level of party intensity outside of festivals or on the playa. Even in Vegas. Love that crazy gal!

Brigit had told me that it was time to put Meowlie (Molly May Underfoot being her full name) down when Crash and I had spent the night at the house. I felt terrible not being there for it the next day but made sure to jam back on the 23rd for the funeral after dropping Crash at the airport and a quick stop to pick up the King Cake mix B had ordered. The way B put flowers around her body reminded me of burying my Layla. Brigit and Molly had been together for a couple decades. I don’t recall ever seeing her tear up much but she did that day.
The next day was back to the norm of a morning on the deck, writing at Treehouse Cafe and work. Not the day after that, though. It was Mardi Gras and Brigit was throwing a dinner party. First,though, I was determined to take advantage of the good weather by getting out instead of sticking myself in a car. That began with heading to Gilda’s on the Santa Cruz wharf for their prime rib lunch special. I didn’t even dig prime rib but my daddy did, the place reminded me of my parents in general actually, and it had been family-owned for generations so I liked it. At the beach after that, I took advantage of the chance to use the throw my sister had made out of a picture of me and my nieces for my Christmas present. I was mostly doing it to send her pictures but also because I was struggling to figure out what to do with it. I didn’t like the way I looked and it weirded me out that I was on there at all. It felt kind of, I don’t know, douchey to be sporting a throw of myself.
Still having a couple hours to kill, I didn’t know what to do with myself after that. I was so used to working all the time (I had tried but failed that morning) that I didn’t know how to handle free time. Well, kind of didn’t know. There was a place I had seen that looked cool on Yelp so I headed over to write. The place, Roxa Hammock Cafe, worked out great as it ended up being in the same center as where I was picking up fried green tomatoes where I was picking up fried green tomatoes for Brigit’s New Orleans dinner party that night. Besides not having much of a view, it ended up being super crazy cool in general. I was even digging the dude who worked there.
The party was pretty fun. Besides B yelling in my ear at dinner to talk to Rupert on the other side (I’m not the only one with some lungs on me), it was pretty laid back. Rupert, our charismatic and colorful Brit of a neighbor and fellow burner, held most of my attention for the evening as his was mainly on me. I was bummed I hadn’t had a chance to dress more in theme but he represented enough for the both of us. For all of us, actually. Luckily he helped to make sure that wouldn’t happen at the next theme party for me as he gave me a wedding dress that he then helped me ruin for his upcoming Donner dinner party. The day after that was lunch at Henfling’s and then a hike in a different/new part of Henry Cowell. Even though I found myself ill-equipped and wanting to strangle Brigit for leading me to believe it was much more chill than it was (I had switched from my hiking boots to flip-flops) I loved it.

B and A went out of town on the 28th which meant that I had the house to myself for the weekend, the original intention being to watch Meowlie. *tear* I had invited Svetlana and her son up but never got a response so I was on my own. It turned out OK, though, as I ended up hitting Henfling’s for an hour and then having way too much fun staying up drinking whiskey and mending that dress for Rupert’s party while watching Drunk History until 4:30 AM. Who would have known.

January 2020

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I couldn’t tell you what happened on the 1st. I was probably a sleep-deprived zombie driving other folks around on what I liked to call its own holiday at the National New Years Hangover Day. Who really knows. On the 2nd though, oh man, I slept until 2 PM. Talk about being disoriented. If I’ve ever done that before, I sure don’t remember it. Our friend Melissa and her man were out on the deck with Brigit after shucking oysters by the time I emerged from my cave. I remember feeling awkward, disoriented and embarrassed, for what reason I don’t know, as my wits started coming about me.
December had financially become all about the holidays so it wasn’t until January that I started forking out dough for the teaching gig. That meant continuing to drive for rideshare way too much for way too little while it made me more physically unhealthy day by day. I did so love it though. All the people, places and coffee shops it introduced me to. Sighseeing and getting writing in on a somewhat constant basis, errands being easy and always being able to avoid the BS that doesn’t have anything to do with the job but comes from working with others. The hard parts were indeed hard but I didn’t take the good ones for granted.
Going to the DMV to get my driver’s license renewed on the 6th was the first example for the month of the errands that the flexibility of my work made so much easier. Relieved to finally stop putting it off, that particular day wasn’t the best choice, though, given that I had a bad insomnia night. It didn’t exactly leave me with my best “look” for a new pict. Also not the best day because there was a burner couple visiting who I would have enjoyed seeing. They hadn’t been up yet when I left though. I would have stayed if I had known it was them but I thought they were a woman going through a gnarly breakup situation who I regrettably didn’t have the stamina for thanks to the lack of sleep.
The next day on the 7th was the last time I would see Svetlana before leaving the country. Still being a little frustrated after having to redo paperwork for a FBI background check, it was an extra relief of a treat to end the day with her when a ride took me close enough to give her a call, her telling me to come over and grab some wine on the way. Just like I expected. Walking in to the usual of her pushing delicious Russian cooking at me as soon as I sat down, we then had fun with a breathalyzer while drinking wine. Her making me blow again and again (insert joke here) while she got pissed that I was only blowing a .04 after 3 glasses. Acting like teenagers and thoroughly enjoying ourselves just like always, I had forgotten how funny the show Drunk History was until her son left it on for us to continue cracking up at even after he went to bed. It being especially funny when having my own buzz so I stayed up watching and laughing until the wee hours. Right after I had finally given in and gone to bed, somewhere around 2:30 AM, my last memory of seeing Svet was when she came out in a t-shirt and panties to throw a pillow at me with the look of a little rascal on her face.
Another midday errand driving for rideshare allowed me was the first big expense of working on my visa. It was to go to UPS in Scotts Valley to get get fingerprinted for the FBI background check. Around $70 for that part alone, at least I got some entertainment out of it when the guy doing it ended up being really nice, funny and cheesy. Case-in-point when he made a dad joke about my getting fingerprinted because I in trouble as people came in and looked. We were by the front door. That was the first of a ton of hoops to jump through with paperwork and a lot of expenses I didn’t know about. As in around $2,500 all-told by the time I was settled in on Jeju Island. The recruiter wasn’t clear about a lot of it and got frustrated if I asked. I wasn’t even told that I wouldn’t get back the paperwork I was paying for after turning it into the Korean government. Yeah…he ended up being the recruiter that I had been warned about by one of the expat leads on
One would think I was all socialized out after December. Nope. Well, not completely. I still needed some sprinkled in here and there. Brigit joined me for walks in the woods every once in a while and on the 12th Aaron even joined us. I also made it to a happy hour put on by a Spanker in Oakland on the 13th where Bacon Daddy gave an impromptu spanking lesson. Not my thing but lots of fun. I managed to fit my own hikes and walks in there, too. My favorite for the month being on the 14th when the All TrailsAll Trails app lead me to the Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve in the Los Altos Hills. It made for a mucho happy day regardless of a teenie bit of sprinkles.
One of my goals in life had been to get out of my own head and do something notable for someone else at least three times a week. I had a long way to go but was proud of myself when managing a happy success for the gal mentioned in the beginning of the post when taking her to dinner. She had been going through a very dark struggle from a recent breakup both in partner and community. Trying to be more than just supportive at B&A’s, I made an effort beyond that when to her to a place called Crow’s Nest for a treat. Well, she happened to know of a special they had there that night anyway and I had been wanting to go so it may not have been exactly the most selfless act. I couldn’t afford it but she was barely working and could use the TLC so I justified spending the money anyway. It didn’t feel very good when she didn’t seem to notice, though I did think about how that itself could teach me bout doing things for the right reasons.

Dancing on the deck in a hail storm the next morning, I got to check out an exhibit called Glow: Festival of Lights later that night at the SF Exploratorium and even squeeze in a couple drinks at Henfling’s when back in the mountains. I was proud of myself for getting better at the balance of a work/life combo. If only I could figure out how to squeeze some more sleep in there, it would be the trifecta. Part of that balance over all, I was learning, included going with the flow with the ever-present unknowns. Not something I had a history of handling well but was finally getting better at. Case in point, I hardly worked at all on the 19th due to sharp stomach pains and needing to recover from a couple days of making below average earnings. Well, not working except for an hour before Aaron treated Brigit and I to dinner at Cowboy. My food was unfortunately disappointing , which we thought must mean a new chef, but the atmosphere was still great and I was happy to be taking a break to go out to dinner with them.
The days from there were to continue with more work and hanging at local haunts. Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing, a quick drop in at the Santa Cruz tasting room of MJA Vineyards to say hi to a gal I knew, Brady’s Yacht Club, Joe’s (though I wasn’t feeling the crowd so left quickly), Henflings for live music and Monty’s to sit around the fire for a chat.
It was then that I was asked about what qualifies me to identify as a traveler. I thought about how the reasons reminded me of the same as to why I identified as a writer. It was just who I had always seen within myself. Where I connected. I didn’t have to “do” anything, I had been born that way. My response, though, was that I focused my whole life around it, even when at home in CA. Fair enough but it didn’t feel right to be exposing only the tip of the iceberg like that. More than to myself, it wasn’t fair to others who could be impacted by my words when it came to their own passions. Showering later (one of the best places for replaying conversations), I wished I would have shared some of the details that made blanket comments like that show more of a reality. Things like how I had ended relationships, said no to good job offers and tolerated attitudes from those closest to me acting as if I was making the wrong choices in life when I needed their support the most. How painful it all was and how much it made me wonder, not only if I was taking the right road, but also if it was worth it. Yes, though. It was. If for no other reason, because we can’t magically change ourselves into different people. Starting to think back with a wish that I could have found the mentor I had desperately wanted, I also wished that there was some way to go and convince Younger Me that I didn’t need any of the “on paper” stuff to to make me who I was. For a minute, I was lost in the past and feeling a little melancholy. A mourning for all the happiness lost.
My mind kept wandering. I started to think about all that had happened since and how I liked to joke that I had nine lives because of all of the different ones I’d already lived. I never talked about how sometimes I could feel myself dying at the end of one and being stuck in a dark abyss before starting the next. The end of who I’d been and what my world had been. A goodbye and mourning. Then the purgatory that came before I could be reborn into the next. It felt like death while my heart still beat. Was that part of having a writer’s spirit? To need more adventure and culture? I wondered if I would ever slow down and be content enough to settle in. A thought that both worried me for fear of dimming my light and also sounded comforting in that maybe it would make life less hard and painful. Less full of loss.
Life goes on. A happy ending to my month happened when Mia became the first friend on one side of the state to join the other. Originally on her way up from SD to move to the Bay as a traveling nurse at Stanford, the hospital called her on her way to retract the offer before their last stamp of approval because she had refused to waste her time to go in for a second drug test when it was there error for what they hadn’t taken care of the first time. Talk about a sucky situation, I would have been a stressed-out mess. She being more kick-ass than me, was able to hold herself together and turn it into a vacation by the time she arrived.
I was excited to have her there whatever the reason. That meant that when she got there on the 21st, I was determined to meet up with her in the China Town neighborhood of San Francisco for lunch. The next day I joined in again at her friend Gosha’s there in the city for a supurb dinner they had put together. She was tired after that, though, so I went out by myself for one of my favorite evenings in SF ever.

Short but sweet, the place I went, The Saloon, was the oldest bar in SF and happened to be where a fabulous elderly pair were dancing with some old-school razzle-dazzle I wouldn’t forget. It was cooler than cool. For some reason I kept thinking that they were only friends, him being gay, and that they had been dancing together for years. I wanted their story so bad but sometimes it’s better to leave the magic of our imaginations be. Leaving soon after, still with a smile on my face from watching them, I was almost talked into karaoke by some Korean fellas as I walked back to my car. If I wasn’t already, I was definitely smiling all the way home after that.
It was already almost time for me to head back to SD. First I managed to fit in a few other nice moments, though, despite catching a cold. Both Mia and I caught it actually, her a couple days before me. Still, we managed to see each other one more time for lunch in Santa Cruz before I left. An odd feeling given that she’d also head back within days. Maybe she was even first. I don’t remember. On a different day after that but also in Santa Cruz when I was getting some solo time, I found a lovely walk and a cute little restaurant called Cafe Brazil. A score in finding it but a fail in getting a run of the mill acai bowl in an effort to make the healthier choice instead of something more authentic. Can’t win ’em all.
Finally managing to get the FBI background check back on the 29th, what shocked the hell out of me with quite a few laughs was that it made it look like I was arrested for drugs on 12/04/2015. Well, I did get taken in but it was for booze and an officer I spoke with later said it looked like it was for my protection because the cops were worried about some guy trying to get me in his car. Whoopsie. It had been years before and from what I remembered, had been after my drunkenly ditching a date when I suddenly felt unsafe because of his plowing me with so much alcohol. It didn’t help that I couldn’t remember my new address. Anyway, add it to the expensive, stressful and time-consuming headaches to take care of for my visa. Why not. I’d already lost count by then. For what it’s worth, I later found out that the guy I ran out on was an ex-military sniper for hire and I was pretty sure he was running drugs across the border. Never trust a redhead.
With a couple more scores of awesome cafes over the next couple days (Harbor Cafe‘s frittata being my favorite brekkie in town), I had already known that 11th Hour Coffee in Santa Cruz was a cool spot for one of my last writing stops but was surprised by Backyard Brew in Palo Alto when it turned out to be a hidden gem full of diversity in people. After that, I only had two more days left on that side of the state. I swore I had just gotten to Nor Cal but oh well. That’s the life of a California gypsy.

December 2019 – Ho Ho Hoing it more than ever before. It’s that Christmas spirit, baby!

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I don’t know how it happened but let me tell you, that was the most festive Christmas season I’ve ever had. Maybe it was karma making up for my being alone with hives most of the year before or that I was likely to be overseas the next year. Who knows. Whatever it was, it was rockin!
I’d have to say that it started when I picked Danno up from the airport for a wild weekend event called Naughty or Nice. It was put on by my old friend Meghan for a national social group I had been a part of years before. Dan and I had bonded at the end of it the year before (I was there to support a friend) when he had walked up with messy hair, playing a tiny guitar and rocking painted toenails with star designs. He was my people, despite his being a Baby Boomer with a Minnesota accent.
We had been in touch since then and he had debated coming out for Burning Man. I hadn’t thought much about our connection being romantic but it became pretty clear that he had when I picked him and a few others up at the airport. Driving them to the Paradise Point Resort and Spa in Mission Bay, I didn’t really know what to do. I didn’t have any interest in being a part of the event and didn’t want to overstep when it came to being around it. Still, he knew the rules and was a participant so when he asked me to hang in his room I hesitantly said yes. Trusting he knew the rules and boundaries, I half-thought I could avoid drama in a group so full of it that most of the participants eventually stopped participating. Nope, nope, nope. The first issue, and the one I wasn’t likely to forget, was that he kept on inviting me over and then lecturing about my needing to be careful about starting drama from being there. No matter how much I told him that it had been years since I was a part of that scene, also that I could care less about a bunch of gossips not in my life, he argued against me on every account. I resented the hell out of it. Especially once there was real drama when a woman named Dee who was collectively disliked and considered the the queen of drama in a group already infamous for it, started running her mouth. Also because I was upset with Meghan for being one of the many who was MIA for the ITP thing when I would have thought to be one of the first ones to show me some love and support in at least a message.
There was some fun moments but over all but our time together would end with some major mixed feelings on my behalf. It was worth tolerating in the moment to hang with such a fun-loving man who ran circles around everyone. It was also nice to experience being taken care of as a woman by a strong man. I wasn’t used to it. He was the stand-in boyfriend who was actually really “there” without freaking me out. I imagined that to be due to age, being from the Midwest and having been married for a very long time. There were even a few times he came out into my personal world. The first being when a friend who went by the burner name of Angelique came down from the OC and the three of us went to Polite Provisions. Such a cool spot that I had been wanting to go to, it was full of class and old-world charm as well as being decorated as if Christmas had vomited everywhere.
I was able to squeeze in an impromptu birthday cerebration for Jewels of lunch at Hugo’s Cocina and pedis in between my time going back and forth between the resort and working. It was nice as, while we kept in tough virtually, we hardly ever actually hung out. Time well spent though everything had a bit of stress to it given that I was trying to squeeze it all in at once. Later that evening I even cut out of work early to go to the Sea World trainer Christmas party with Nik that we had been going to for years. Taking consolation, at least, in it being at Sunshine Co in OB for once, the thrill was gone. I barely knew any of the trainers anymore.
Our local Christmas parade the next night was a lot more fun. It was one of the biggest social gatherings in my little beach town for the year and I was proud to having given a smashing success of a pre-party. Danno played the boyfriend for a bit while a well-known local friend who stood about 6’9″ also there seemed to think that we were an item. Making me feel like I was in an impromptu polyamorous situation, I was relieved when Dan took off for one of the events he had committed to and the rest of us headed to the parade. Stopping at a pottery shop to join a local party the owner put on every year, it was then back to my place for an after-party. It felt good to give something back to Team OB. Really good. I had always felt tolerated by a lot of them at best. Them coming to my place made me feel better about how they saw me.

There were plenty more holiday shenanigans to be had. Danno didn’t leave for a two more days which meant that I made it over to the resort a couple more times after the event had ended for some fun in the sun. Saying goodbye to him, I was onto the next event on the evening of the 9th when I made it to a rowdy Hash House Harrier fundraising event at the Kensington Club where a very sexy Mia was auctioned off to raise money for a good cause. Thursday the 12th was a relaxing lunch out with the folks and the 13th was out with the owner of the car I was long-term renting, Tavian, for our “company Christmas party”. Working that night in the glasses I got to help with night vision, a fail given that I didn’t need glasses, things were going pretty damn good. I even put in a little drive north to grab lunch with a cool dude, Ian, who I had camped with at The Swan my first burn. He was driving at least double the time to meet up with me. Opting for my boobies instead of a handshake when we finally got to the restaurant, he gave me a laugh and a cheap thrill before he heading back to L.A. an hour later for a Christmas party. I went right back to work myself, desperately trying to pay for all the Christmas presents I was buying and couldn’t afford. It was in the American Christmas handbook after all.
I could have killed Tom Hanks a couple days later when going to see A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood by myself and I ended up crying like a baby. I knew the movie would be set up for that, dammit, and yet still fell for it. That night, I made my favorite gesture of holiday spirit for the the year when heading up Newport Ave to some houses that put on a show of Christmas lights playing to music synced to a local radio station. Taking advantage of $10 pizzas offered right before closing at Surf Rider Pizza, I jammed the half mile to pick up some to offer for those watching the show. A failed effort given that the show shut down for the night soon after my return. Even better though, I headed over to the homeless crowd who always gathered at the end of Newport (where the ocean is) and gifted the pizza to them. The whole next day was sucked up by taking my papa to Barona Casino. Our special thing and it was the last day of their Wednesday lobster buffet. I don’t know why he was so fond of it given that neither of us were big lobster fans.

Putting my Christmas party to shame, Clif and Matt threw their own on a yacht in Coronado. I thought I had heard that they won a few hours at a fundraiser or something like that but it was still a wee bit expensive. Worth it though, my favorite part when a group of the girls dressed in snow bunny suits (you know they were sweating) had a Zoolander style photo shoot. Funny in contrast was when we went out to a dive bar called The Little Club on that stuffy island where I ended up carrying Nik out after Kurt had shoved me out of the way for nagging him when he had been ignoring a sick Kati’s requests of telling him that it was time to go. When you gotta go, you gotta go.
The presents kept growing and growing under my tree. (Insert pervy joke here.) I had never made that happen before. A little present for me was when a couple friends from The Swan of the 2019 burn, Disco Inferno (AKA: Brett and Lori), came to visit for a couple days. It being my duty as a San Diegian to take them to South Beach for beers and what were arguably the best mahi tacos in town, I squeezed in a few hours of work and we had a bonfire. We headed to their other local burner friend’s house the next night, a family with a refreshingly out of the ordinary social structure, before the whole lot of us went out to a cool speakeasy in UTC (upper-scale mall) called Raised by Wolves.
It was the last of the holiday shenanigans before finally being time for Christmas Eve and Christmas. Spending the first of the two at the Brick House, partly to save Nik from her cool but controlling sis-in-law, I hadn’t even been invited to the Satterwhite Sanctuary, so it had been an easy choice. Christmas itself was kind of boring. I was happy that Grandma was there, though half frozen in discomfort as I always at their property and bummed about the more traditional menu of the day after having heard about the one from the day before. I consoled myself, though, by making the string bean casserole that was my favorite and the pineapple cake that our Grandma Jean always used to make before she passed away. It was touching to see how much it meant to Mama. It also felt great to see how excited everyone was about the presents I had gotten them and to hear their comments about how I nailed it for the year. The final win during a holiday season of wins as it winded to a close.
Exhale man, finally getting cleared by Dr. Vlad on the 26th to be OK enough to head back to Nor Cal, I celebrated by joining Mia that night for drinks at Kilowatt Brewing before hitting the road the next day after the second time I was cleared, though that time being for the snowy mountain overpass opening back up. It was time to celebrate NYE with Brigit and Aaron. Well, half celebrate.
Getting there at 10 PM on the 27th, there was already a peppermint martini waiting for me along with the glow of a beautifully decorated Christmas tree that couldn’t have felt more like a postcard if it tried. I had a couple days after that to get settled back in. Driving all over the Bay for work, eating at local spots in Felton, hiking and writing. NYE was my biggest holiday fail, though. Well, not exactly a fail. I got to spend it with B&A who I hadn’t got to spend any of the holiday season with up to that point. Adorned in a blue sari, I was excited to be going to the party of some burners in Santa Cruz with them. Unfortunately a little too excited (and tired) as I had already set myself up when overcompensating with my pre-game. I did still manage to get some dancing in and a few more cocktails once there, thouhh, thinking that I’d at least be able to enjoy the countdown even if it wasn’t destined to be an all-nighter. That was until I was thrown a major curveball when B announced that we were leaving right before midnight. Aaron’s head had been bobbing as he sat on a chair out of the way due to one of his nights of not sleeping and Brigit, wanting to avoid the drivers after midnight, didn’t seem to feel the need to wait until either right after the countdown or early enough for me to be able to make it to Monty’s to be a part of it there.

Not able to afford an insanely expensive NYE Lyft, I flashed back to a night in my early teens with Nicki when countdown back then had ended up the same way. I wasn’t only pissed when the clock struck midnight in the car but also felt a little betrayed. I could have stayed home and celebrated with friends. Though that very easily could have ended with me alone at the bars or somehow roped into a house in the suburbs with a bunch of kids running around. Having them drop me at Monty’s in a last-ditch effort for some NYE magic anyway, it quickly became apparent that that ship had sailed. It was one great chuckle, though, when thinking of how confused anyone would have been who saw a snockered almost 6 foot tall woman in a sari walking up a wooded mountain road on my way home. They wouldn’t be getting that memory out of their head any time soon.

November 2019 – Rocking Recovery

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November back in Nor Cal. It was the better of the two homes to find peace and recovery. My primary home back in San Diego always had so much fun going on but there were times when getting away from it was necessary. Not just to recover myself but to be with Brigit and Aaron after her heart attack. Add to it that her cat Mollie (or as I called her, Meowlie) was about a million years old and on her last legs…well, actually dragging her last legs, and we were quite the threesome. That kitty had a scrappy little soul, though, so was going to end up sticking around for months. As much as I wouldn’t have wished the situation, it was nice to not be the only one in rough shape. Me, a kitty on my lap and Brigit all trying to survive physically while poor Aaron was doing his best not to loose it while two of the main women in his life nearly died at the same time and were in the process of trying to recover. He wasn’t worried about Meowlie, though. He was convinced she was the devil. I just thought she was a zombie cat who liked a warm lap.
B booked us up at a local hippy spa in those mountains that we called our beloved home not long after my return. It was super cute with doggos everywhere, though a little less relaxing when the woman giving me a massage talked the whole time. Also when my broke-ass ended up forking out $30 more than expected for both of our tips and a book B wanted with the “I’ll pay you back” that’s more of a “thank you”. I didn’t pay rent when crashing with them so, besides being taken of guard by spending what was supposed to be food money, it certainly wasn’t a big deal. I actually wished I could have done more and was happy to be able to do it at least a little here and there. I missed having money to take care of and treat people with.
Focusing on recovery didn’t take over most of our time. My biggest ah-ha moment for the month was when a big Scooby-Doo mystery was solved about my having been seeing turkeys all over the place and wondering why people were letting them roam freely. Then there started being too many for me to think they belonged to one or two people. Turned out they were wild turkeys! The neighborhood was crawling with them. I never would have expected that in a mountain town and got a kick out of it. The little things, man.
In addition to that ah-ha moment, I was proud to have finally started meeting the goal of taking advantage of being all over the place driving for rideshare and enjoying what the different areas I was taken to had to offer. That included stopping one night for live music at the 7 Mile House in Brisbane and Levi and I going to see an art exhibit in Oakland called No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man. An ironic name given that he thought our culture was being made a commercial spectacle of. I was also ecstatic to see one of my favorite bands of the moment, Hirie. A San Diego band! She was such a wee thing that I felt like I could barely see her and didn’t think she was a great performer. Her voice was what it was all about, though, so it was fine enough. Her band did decent to make up for the showmanship anyway and the opener had been just short of spectacular. The whole thing was pretty great minus so many people smoking weed in that venue called The Cat (in Santa Cruz) that I was a little stoned from the cloud in had created. Being a lightweight with the Mary Jane meant that I was kind of hazy by the time Hyrie had taken the stage. Makes me laugh now but I was pretty frustrated in the moment.
Aaron was turning 60 and I was torn about my plan to make my way back to SD right before. I wanted to spend Thanksgiving with the family. Something I’d kind of regret but also be thankful for given the holidays I had missed due to their living with Sean and probably would in the future. Brigit and I came up with a great idea, though. I took pictures of myself all over the property in different action poses. Hanging with Meowlie on the couch, plugging my nose while looking over the toilet, looking over his shoulder in his art shed, shaking my finger at him at his desk to stop working, having one of his cocktails and spying into the house from outside. I had frames delivered to her and she hung them in the right places on his birthday for him to find, video recording him as he did. It was the best and I’m sure the two of us had even more fun with it than he did.
There I was already heading back down south on the 26th, picking up Grandma in Glendale along the way with a sleepover at her house in order to get back to SD in time to meet the fam right by my house at Corvette Diner in Point Loma. My pop’s kind of place and also what had ironically become the same neighborhood where my nieces went to school. After lunch, it was back to my place solo. It didn’t take long for me to get back to the beach, of course, and for a visit at the Brick House the next day. It was wild how smooth the transition of switching between the two homes on opposite sides of the state had become.

Using the excuse of a holiday to wear my yellow sari at Thanksgiving, I had always been looking for a way to rationalize adorning myself in one of the four I had, always wondering how I had ended up buying so many in India when I only wanted one. Typical me. Well, typical me with Alexandra in my ear. It was nice spending the holiday with them, though I had felt frozen and uncomfortable at their place since Sean’s attack the day before I had left for my Costa Rica 40th birthday trip.
The rest of the month was back to the little things like getting glasses to help see at night (which didn’t really help because I didn’t need glasses), tripping out on the snow-covered mountains that I could see from the beach, being frustrated (like I was every year) that I couldn’t see the ocean from that beach because of sand-walls put up in the winter and going to a movie and sushi with Kati. She and her sister being the family that mattered most and the only one always there for me without the occasional disappearance.

June Not So Much Gloom 2019

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Brigit and I started out June with one of the hikes that I loved so much. It was one of the Nor Cal things that hurt to be away from when home in So Cal or overseas. There had come to always be someone or something that it ached to be away from. It was one of the heartbreaks of the life that I had always dreamed of and was finally living. The day after, though, I experienced the opposite when being happy and proud to make it to an art preview in SF for the years upcoming Burning Man. Something I didn’t yet know was that it would have extra meaning due to my not being able to make it to most of the art in person thanks to serious health stuff was about to pop up.

Continuing in the same vein of making progress in my goal of taking advantage of all the amazing things a lifestyle of vagabonding offered, I continued my days and nights by hanging at the beach in Santa Cruz and making it to that hood’s monthly burner mixer. More Sound Camp than the parts of the community I was into, it was still nice to spend the first couple hours with the community before the EDM took over. Keeping with the beach theme a few days after that, I also stopped to spend sometime in Monterey when a ride took me there. A goal with driving rideshare that I had tended to fall short on more than I would have liked.
The most important event of the month toward goal-advancement was a virtual interview for the public teaching system in S Korea by the name of EPIK. Excusing myself from a lovely tea Brigit was throwing in the garden of the front of the house, I was worried before it even began about how hot it was that day. For good reason as I was disheveled, distracted and sweating through the entire interview. In a culture I had heard to be somewhat vain, I was more than a little worried about that being even more of a problem than what I was already worried about in regard to weight and age prejudice. So yeah, when I found out soon after that that I didn’t get it, I wasn’t exactly shocked. I was, however, a little unjustifiably resentful that I had been in such a bad situation for the interview in the first place by trying to make the tea while not having a decent option of where I could set up. An example of my weakness of FOMO, still being too much of a people pleaser and something I should have been more proactive to solve beforehand. I may not have been shocked by the rejection but the wind was definitely taken out of my sails for a hot minute. It had been my main focus without paying attention to a plan B (more like plan F) for a while. A lifetime of experience gave faith that I’d pull myself up by the bootstraps but ugh…it was a blow.
It was always a pleasant piece of magic to experience how the little things made such a helpful difference. The hiking, of course. B and I even managed to get Aaron out and I made it on my own to a trail called Garden of Eden that lead hikers along a forested railroad to a set of connected lagoons that were used as a swimming hole. Beyond freeing myself with taking a weight on my shoulders by paying JerseyJ back money she had very generously loaned me to get into a rental car for work after an unexpected situation, I avoided her most of the month. Speaking of that car, it felt empowering to change my own tire in the middle of the night when getting a flat during a work shift. I also found a big breath of peace when seeing a deer as I pulled out from the house on my way to another. With the all too common reminder of all the small moments I’d be sad to miss, I stopped to take a picture of a beautiful house, grabbed a beer at Monty’s, spent time with compadres and tried to continue going out to new restaurants at least a couple times a week to foodie it up instead of just looking for the most convenient, cheap and/or healthy option. Being the hot-mess I was, I found the humor when that included rubbing my eye with Sriracha when eating pho. I got to celebrate Brigit’s birthday before heading back to SD at the end of the month. A happy ending that added to a life of detail that had me mostly over my job rejection and moving onto the next step within a couple weeks.

Something big happened at the end of the month. Big and scary, though I wouldn’t know it until later. I had been getting random bruises and was finally starting to trip about them enough to ask someone. I had been getting them for a while, actually. Before then, I had been blowing them off as one of the clumsy times I ran into something or when I bruised easily after knocking a few back. I wasn’t drinking enough for that to be the reason though. And I had started getting them too often to believe I was forgetting clumsy moves. They were only about the size of a thumbprint at that time but a tiny internal alarm was going off. Tiny but big enough that on June 25 I sent pictures to my nurse brother. As usual, he blew me off in his out of sight, out of mind way. I was self-conscious about them enough to bring it up again with folks from my Burning Man camp, Spanky’s, a few days later at a work weekend held at the farm of a couple awesome burners in Garden Valley, CA who were were part of a sister camp named Black Rock Bordello. Not just a farm by the name of Skunkworks, they had huge tents set up that they traveled with to help those in need and let Spanky’s use for those work weekends along with storing camp stuff the rest of the year. One of the hundreds of examples I could give about why I love the spirit of Burning Man. Making it to one of the pre-prep work weekends had almost been as important to me as going to the burn itself. It was also a great break in driving across the state between my two homes for the second time in a month, even if it did add just short of 300 miles to the trip.


April 2019 – Developing Nor-Cal Routines

Hike, hike, hiking in Henry Cowell State Park.. Those redwoods, the doggos and horses on path…I coveted it and was happy to get it on a regular basis. Hitting the Santa Cruz burner happy hour wasn’t my thing once the EDM started but I was happy to make it over to hang with burners for an hour or two. What was my thing was going wine tasting in the mountains and for a couple drinks at of course our local dive, Monty’s Log Cabin. Routines sounding familiar yet?
Dinner with Brigit & Aaron at Casa Nostra, an Italian restaurant that was becoming a routine, was quite a treat as was Svet and I enjoying White Russians at Morgan Hill’s dive bar M&H Tavern both in celebration of our late friend Wren and to say goodbye to the little town before she moved out.
The siblings were annoying me with the sis being all about her body and getting six-pack abs for her 40th birthday the next month (though I got it at the same time) and the brother with messages about studding out his purebred dog. Superficiality and breeding dogs, especially when I had seen so many in trouble during my travels, were topics that didn’t sit well with me. They knew that.

Highlight of the month: I got my ticket to Burning Man! Or should I should say that Brigit did. We both sat on laptops plugging away the second they went on sale, each facing error messages that weren’t all too unexpected until she finally got through. Yay! True to a burner’s heart, her and Aaron even gifted me with covering half of mine as well as our friend Melissa’s. B kept saying that she had been gifted in her earlier days and now it was her turn. I love, love, love our community. And them. My little man-made family.
Sad to have to cancel a flight home for my brother’s birthday and Easter, the reason was happy as it was to save money for Sint Marteen for Big Red’s 40th! Instead I got to celebrate the holiday with Brigit and Aaron where she, in her smirk of dark humor, carried on a tradition of cooking rabbit.
A couple more hangs in Santa Cruz, meals in San Francisco, hot tubbing under the stars with Brigit, Aaron and even Melissa finished off the month. That along with finally making it to Muir Woods for a hike (Pelican Inn is a cute place to stop to eat but I wouldn’t recommend the stew) and signs of the second time having grand-mal seizure/s (first being years before) when waking up on the 25th with a majorly bit up tongue. I may have been stressing my body out by working too much for the sister’s birthday trip. Whopsie-doo.
It was a short and sweet month in Nor Cal enjoying the peace and pals. Not my norm and not so bad. Probably overdue, actually.

Feb 2019 – my 41st birthday month

Starting the ‘ol birthday month with my grandma in LA was a nice way to warm up. Always getting to her house late for initial arrival, that particular time was due to hanging with burner buds in Long Beach the night before. The next morning started with her making brekkie, something she was sweetly stubborn about doing, and even the repetitive nagging of wishing I visited more while at the same time on repeat about the effort it took to do so added to the Grannie magic. Of course it drove me crazy (duh) but it also warmed my heart to see her being amped about my being there. She was getting used to my coming around on a semi-regular basis. That made me happy.
After breakfast I took her out to run errands and for lunch, took her to a place in her neighborhood called Zankou Chicken that a podcast I had been listening to called My Favorite Murder had talked about. It had been covering the story of how the founder had killed members of his family. Delicious food with only a hint of murder.
2019 was a year with more traveling back and forth within my home state as opposed to the overseas tornado of 2018. Something I was especially enjoying given that I was planning on being overseas for just about all of 2020. Going home to SD on the specific date I did this particular time was for the purpose of watching the dog of my homie and old roomie Jewels. Poor baby had cancer, as had her other pup who had passed a few months before. It already wasn’t hard to get my help with doggos and the year had been turning out to not have quite as much time at home as I was comfortable with (though was loving my second home) so I was happy for the push to come back for a couple weeks.
2019 had been, and would continue to be, a year of family. Probably the most of my entire adult life up to that point. Of that, Kati, Nik and their families were lower maintenance than my blood family. Not to infer that my blood family was high-maintenance in a bad way, we were just close for the first time and when I saw them they were usually all together. Mostly because they lived on the same estate (the Satterwhite Sanctuary) and it was a half an hour away. Even more challenging, totally outside of the central-coastal bubble I lived in. Yeah. Not easy. Going to their property was the hardest of all the time we spent together as it meant an entire day of different stages. All of us together, Mom and Dad in their house, my niece’s at the pool, my sis at the bar, socializing with their friends, my bro on the couch in front of the TV…it was a family circus. And something I didn’t want to miss. I’d eventually learn to give up on accomplishing anything else on those days and to just plan on spending the night but wasn’t quite there yet.
On the opposite, going out to eat was a norm with them and maybe the only way time management stood a chance. It was super fun being able to take them, especially my parents, to places in SoCal I had always thought they would like. For instance, taking them and their dogs to Julian for the town’s famous pie. Special times that would always warm me up to think about later on.
Being a traveler and living in NorCal part-time sometimes magnified the ticking of life’s clock a little too loud. I never felt like I had enough down time at home in the comfort bubble of my small community beach town. Not being home all the time did make me especially love my routines more than ever though. Even doing laundry was fun and something I looked forward to. For example of how, the $10 burger and a beer lunch special at our local dive, The Stick, was directly next to the laundromat and something I always paired with it.
Home when my birthday once again hit on Feb 8th, for once I wouldn’t have made a big deal about it given that it was coming on the heels of the big 40. Sis wasn’t having it though. She arranged an awesome fondue dinner with the Kid (little bro Sean) stepping up to have her back to make sure we fondid it right. Even Grandma surprised me by being there! I wasn’t the most thrilled that Wendy invited her ex-husband knowing that I had strong mixed feelings about him given that he was usually super cool but also a leach on our family and would once in a while would go getto. Something I had no tolerance for even from someone who was usually super cool. Otherwise, all happy sparkles.
It didn’t take long after that for me to be back up north in Felton with a stop along the way to visit the peacocks at Casa de Fruita. Back to work right away, the sightseeing of driving for Lyft was part of the fun and something I enjoyed getting back to. Every once in a while, the destination of passengers would even take me by the house I grew up in that my parents had only moved out of a couple years before. I, of course, used those opportunities to send photos to the fam though I didn’t miss that city in general at all.
Besides using rideshare to sightsee, socialize and network, there was also the usual stuff of my NorCal life to keep me happy. Hangin at Cafe Gratitude in Santa Cruz, visiting my pal Renee in wine country and small lingering birthday celebrations such as Svet getting me shoes I emo-loved thanks to their raising money for doggos being a few examples. Of course I accidentally rubbed part of the heel off from driving within a couple weeks of wearing them non-stop but that just made them rep me with all the more accuracy.
The big event of the month, and why I was back in Nor Cal so fast, was Brigit and Aaron’t party to celebrate his being done paying alimony. Money to Burn was the name and it was a 1920s theme that was the absolute bee’s knees. Fabulous as the parties she threw always were, I got a huge kick out of their goal being to use the budget of one month of what the payment had been. They even flew out a friend from Hawaii to cater the food and hired a fan dancer. It was full of bohemian-spirited people and a level of the cat’s meow that would be hard to match.

For the perfect ending to my 41st birthday month a week or two later, I went for a low-key hang at Monty’s that started with my walking into dogs abounding, a fresh couple dancing to “Magic” by Kenny Chesney (love!) and ladies from Hawaii chatting away. It was one of those enchanted moments that made time slow down for a minute. Something that didn’t happen as much at home as when I was traveling. You better believe I grabbed onto it when it did.

November 2018 – A quiet month of daily life…mostly.

Being a foodie in California, especially when in San Francisco a decent amount of the time (and double that when constantly on the road) can be a little slice of gluttonous heaven. Especially when finding good prices by focusing on lunch specials, happy hour and Restaurant Week. Being all over the place and checking out these new culinary spots is about more than just food, of course. Aptos St. BBQ in, well, Aptos had a blues vibe with live music and Summit House in the Santa Cruz mountains (on the 17) combined a great mix of a calming scenic view while also being full of bikers. It was a lot of daily-life fun with a lot of appreciated diversity.
Besides chowing down, life in Felton also continued to consist of the hikes I adored in the redwood tree-infested Henry Cowell State Park and I even managed to finally meet the retired equestrian park ranger neighbor who lived in a picturesque house across from the park with his two horses in the front, Buster and Dandy. I had always wanted to love on them and jumped at the chance to say hello when he was outside one day, asking if I could share some of the many apples falling off a tree at Brigit and Aaron’s.
Even though I was driving 60+ hours a week for Lyft, I still semi-managed to take advantage of other opportunities that popped up, like stopping in and drinking Russian vodka with Svetlana when dropping off a passenger by her house late enough to justify calling it quits. Moments like those were great when I actually pulled together enough energy to rally myself to take advantage of my Bay Area bucket list. Still, reality was that driving so many hours, sometimes until 1 or 2 am, often left me waking up the next morning dizzied, disoriented and in an exhausted mental fog that was sometimes so strong it took a moment to remember if I had taken anything to sleep. There were nights of insomnia where I would finally take a Tylenol PM at 5 AM, sometimes from being too amped from a really good day and others from the stress of it going the other way. By the time I was ready to start driving the day after these rough nights it would be mid afternoon (so much for working out) and by the time I really started to feel awake, the sun was going down. Of course, and as was a constant concern, I knew I’d be more successful if I slowed down and had more balance, but I had always been terrible at that. Constantly scolding myself, the story played on repeat in my head about how I was setting myself up for failure and losing happiness by working too much like that. By late November I had given 5,576 rides and was getting less and less bummed about my time driving for rideshare likely coming to an end. Well, for the moment. I knew I’d still miss it.
Even with those days of being floored by Lyfting too much, I was proud of myself for managing to take care of little things. I stayed aware of and looked into money-making side-hustles I came across and dealt with micro-stresses like figuring out how to refill my meds at a new pharmacy when the label on my current bottle had all but worn off (thanks to my most recent travels), called about the microphone on my phone not working (after dropping it in a toilet at Nikki’s birthday), dealt with a call from the social security office about possible identity theft, looked into what I had to do to get medical (what ended up being to pay $200 a month for Medi-Cal) and about setting an appointment to get my hair did in order to help me feel a little less like a raggedy hippy.
November was a quiet month for the most part. Except for, you know, the deadliest wildfires California had ever seen. I drove for Lyft on the day the air quality was the worst in the world and could only see maybe half a mile in front of me. Even though I had worn a mask, I was still not-so-surprisingly laid up on the couch the next day feeling horrible. It had been scary enough just experiencing that much, and I had been worried for the people in real danger, but I was also still selfishly bummed about missing a fundraiser for Black Rock Roller Disco (the roller rink camp at Burning Man) being held at the Church of 8 Wheels. Going there was one of those things on the SF bucket list. What the smoke did do that I appreciated was eliminated out ability to play “out of sight out of mind” and forget about those poor people literally in the line of fire. It must have felt like Armageddon for them. I donated a little then for the people and animals in trouble and promised myself I would six months to a year later when most had forgotten the need that would still be there.
Moving on to later in the month, Thanksgiving was next to non-existent. Brigit had originally said she was going to make a meal for the holiday for the little family of herself, Aaron and I but later let me know that she had made other plans by asking me if I had plans. What it did turn into was a night of kicking off the holiday weekend at a bar in San Jose called Britannia Arms with my late-teens BFF Nicki to celebrate an old tradition, complete with a reenactment photo of us trying to be “hard” to be cool. She had brought a bunch of her people I didn’t know, or at the very least wasn’t close with, so it didn’t have the nostalgic feeling I was hoping for but I was still glad I made the effort and was pretty content as far as the actual holiday went (with only a few pangs of hurt and self-pity). It was a glorious and rare day alone with string bean casserole and snuggle time with Meowlie for most of the day until Melissa came over later.
As far as work went on that holiday weekend, Wednesday and Sunday were a bust thanks to being TOO busy. AKA: the nightmare of just inching my way around in airport traffic instead of getting anywhere in a productive time frame. Sometimes I couldn’t even get into our waiting lot at SFO to be in the digital countdown, though I did luck out once in a while with random long rides that took me in the right direction. What seemed to happen more often, though, were long rides that took me in the wrong direction toward the end of my shift. For instance, getting one at 11:30 PM from SJO all the way back up to SFO. AKA: away from home which added at least an extra hour to bed time, making it after 2 AM. Not great for how I would be feeling the next day.
There was a lot of the beautiful mundane that is so much of what life consists of. Well, maybe not my kind of life quite as much but you get it. I was happy that I managed to meet up with Wendy and her friends one night when she flew into town to drop off my niece. Once again, they weren’t my people so I was a little uncomfortable despite crashing with her sweetheart of a friend, Sara. I quit the show I had been watching, the Good Wife, feeling like I had wasted those moments of my life, at least after the first season, and caught a cold as I seemed to do once a month. Thanks, no doubt, to the sanitary conditions and germs of those around me both when driving and at home. There were little treats like taking advantage of $5 movie days at the local Cinelux movie theatre to see Fantastic Beasts, grabbing a beer every now and again to sit with around the fire at Monty’s and $8 lunch specials at the local Chinese restaurants. The food wasn’t great but the prices couldn’t be beat.
Driving down the streets of our amazing mountain town, waving back to locals filled my heart and gave me amusingly paranoid moments of wondering if I was acquainted with any of those people or if they were just randos saying hello. Driving over the hill from the mountains into the Bay, I made mental checklists…scrub the car seats, yoga, hike, write…by the time I hit the beautiful but dangerous winding highway 17, my analytical mind had graduated from the warm-up of the lists and even further into the creative imagination that I had lived in as a child. I’d think about how I had a lot of good things in my youth, especially once moving to San Diego, but the main words I’d use to describe my life up until my mid twenties was pain and rejection. Finally finding Lamotrigine in my mid-thirties was the first thing that had really changed all of that but also took away some of the things I identified with and loved the most about myself. Then I’d analyze about whether that was really true or if it was a chicken or the egg thing. Following that train of thought and falling even farther down the rabbit hole, I thought about how I had been a happy and inspiring human drug to those around me when on one of my natural highs of charisma, adrenaline, happiness, love and empathy. How I had been able to live in my imagination and the way that inspired my writing. I thought about how different I was compared to the “normal” people of society and how I got it from my mom. Then I was thinking about her. How she would get upset when everyone around her was happy because, I thought, it maybe fucked with her self-worth and sense of direction to not have anyone to take care of. Plus the (for her) anxiety-ridden and upsetting chaos of the excitement that happiness brings. There was, of course, also fantasies about winning the lottery, being discovered by someone who wanted to work on this blog and the book I wrote, travel funding and (cringe) falling in love.
As my mind wandered six ways from Sunday, the beauty of that nature I was so in love with still managed to pulled me out of my imagination for small moments too magical not to notice. My favorite at that time being the steam that burned off the trees in those mountains as the sun hit in the mornings. Unfortunately, I was also pulled out for not so magical moments of having to focus on that scary road. Especially during a super rainy year of driving a Prius down a freeway where so many crashes took place. I had already hydroplaned once or twice, once knowing that I would have been in a crash if anyone was driving next to me. Not fun.
As those tedious moments that make the day to day continued, I felt happy and high when finally kicking the cold and extra great when it happened to come on the same day of a great 11+ hour working day of making $300 (before $85 + taxes overhead). Good timing before managing to take three days off driving. Something I hardly ever did.
Maybe the most fun I had all month was making it to the Dickens Fair with Brigit and Aaron for the first time followed with the relief of getting my hair did. Being at the salon for 5 hours, though, with the stylist’s kid playing on the floor wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. It was cheap at a total of $100 ($50 Groupon and a $50 tip) and I rarely did the “take care of myself” grooming so, even though the outcome wasn’t what I was hoping for, I was still gratefully happy.
So yeah. Over all, it was a month of the mundane day to day that is, I reiterate, so much of the beauty of life and something I hadn’t had in a long time. I had learned to appreciate it so much more and tried to hold on before the craziness of my adventures returned.

Living Like a Traveler at Home – Mucho Video & Picture Edition

Finally home and falling right back into the category of “no rest for the wicked” , I flew into San Francisco and went straight back to putting in a couple hours behind the wheel Lyfting on my way to the casa of Aaron and Brigit, my burner pals, (and a second home of sorts for me) in the Santa Cruz Mountains. San Diego would have to wait, though the excitment of finally being able to check out the idea I’d had for years of flying back and forth every week or two did help to fight off too much homesickness. A new goal achieved that almost instantly proved too exhausting and expensive to keep up with once at it.

Between driving for rideshare and studying for the work I was to do with teens in India over the summer, I didn’t have much free time. Even so, Brigit, Aaron and I managed to find some fun to get into during the small windows I managed to carve out while there. Pedicures, our coveted hottub coctail hour of skinny-dipping under the stars, St. Patty’s Day, a dinner party, my favorite Felton log cabbin bar and Pedelyte to help recover from it all.

Once back in San Diego, I was excited to move into the new place I had found for (what ended up only being) the next month at home in OB. A spot that would end up costing me $450 more than I had budgeted, half-week’s pay (ouch), but worth it in order to avoid the confusion of figuring out an unstable daily back and forth amount. The roomie was also super flexible and chill which was appreciated. Plus she had doggos for me to love on.

Still forever trying to catch up with my writing, I was back in full school mode while still studying for my new gig. Visiting my favorite cafes along with dog and housesitting helped to get some quiet time for those things but my social and family life, along with catching up with that beach town that I loved so much, still (poor me) consumed an ansorbinant amount of my time.
So did falling in love.
Stephane and I were magic. We both swept each other off our feet to a place that brought old black-and-white romance movies to colorful and vibrant life. Our kind of chemistry put those around us in a whimspical state of euphoria. Minus the subpar sex life (but at least he tried), it was as close to perfect as I’d ever had. He not only admired me, the lifestyle I was leading and my dreams/goals but also supported them. He was also just as busy with his multiple companies, tennis and properties as I was with my stuff, which meant that we didn’t have the constant issues I’d in the past of lovers suffocating me.
So yeah. I went from the person who never falls in love to a level teenage girls dream of.
As mentioned, I was exhausted from the commute back and forth between San Diego and San Francisco within a couple trips. I’d imagine that to be, in large part, because of lack of routine and needing to figure out last minute when it made sense to go. A detail that made travel expenses jump from an expected $200 to double that per tri0. Ouch x 2. To triple it, I found out that I needed $1,000 in vaccines that the company I was to be working for would not cover. At least if I wanted to follow the reccommendations of the main immunization and travel clinic of San Francisco. Something my new regional director, concentually, hinted at me to not get in order to avoid overhead. Direction that still bothers me two months later. I’m 40 years old and don’t know my tits from my ass in regard to diseases in India and which vaccines to get in order to protect myself. Sorry dude but I’m trusting the professionals. Extra cash to buy another sari or two ain’t worth risking my health. And I know you mean well but I resent defending high overhead by reccommending otherwise.

Flying back to the old SDizzle again, I headed directly to my homie Bradley’s boat to hang with him and his girlfriend (who so happens to be one of my favorite gals) Juliette. It was fun watching the rideshare driver be surprised at how close it was (the airport is along the water downtown) and that there was a large sailboat pulling up to get me. Score for putting a smile on a random person’s face. Daily goal met.
Back to the Bay once again (head spinning yet?) where I managed to catch a comedy show by one of my favorite comedians (Kathleen Madigan) in Napa and then SD again, Big Red took me out for a Brothel & Bar history crawl in the Gaslamp quarter. I also got the chance to hang for one of Nikki & Brent’s son’s birthday parties and cheer Nik on for a thriathalon she rocked. Something she was to do a repeat performance of a couple weeks later. Kick-ass crazy woman.

Somewhere in there it was May. The month of my parent’s and sister’s birthdays as well as the anniversary of when I had lost my fur-baby in 2015 and four people the year before. Relieved that the losses (that will probably forever haunt me) didn’t take over the celebration, we had a great time at the pool at Harrah’s Resort & Cassino, starting with just Wendy and I so we could get our grown-up time in (AKA: coctails) and then were joined by our parents and my niece’s a few hours later.
One of my weeks in So Cal was consumed completely by an intensive WAFA (Wilderness and First Aid) certification course. It was the first time I met the man who was to become my local director and he instaintly rubbed me wrong. My instincts had me on alert but I told myself that it may just be because I had an aversion to Marines (he was a vet). Reasoning that, based on past experience, I would be able to be tolerant, compassionate and professional regardless of what was to come, I also tried to tell myself that polar-opposites have different strengths to offer which can create a kick-ass team as a whole.
Another flag was how obvious it was when he talked about the other mentor that he, at the very least, had a big crush from when they had crossed paths the summer before. I wouldn’t have been all that surprised to even find out they had even already danced the horizontal hokie pokie, minus the details that he was physically unattractive and socially awkward by traditional standards.
I hoped for the best and even reached out to give him rides along with going out to an awkward dinner with him and one more colleague for the sake of team building. What could I do? I tried and I tried and I tried but holy shit did it turn out to be worse than I ever expected. Just wait until that blog post of horror comes out…
Things with Stephane and I were ramping up. He and two of his closest friends headed down from Orange County (where they lived) to go with me to Brent’s birthday a week or two before leaving for India. A ton of my closest friends from our twenties and also my family (as far as he knew) were going to be there.Thank God they (my family) pulled out thanks to my mother being uptight about his being separated as opposed to divorced and sister not wanting to go after I got upset about her bringing Sean into my safety circle.
Drinking champagne before heading over, one of Stephane’s friends raved about how good we were together and what a good guy he was. A good time and good vibes that were to continue until a couple hours into the party. Drinks kept flowing, friends were made and the laughter amped up. Somewhere soon after, my world crumbled. As the minds of most women work, at least in my experience, I don’t just shrug and let it go if something seems to have even a little stink of fishiness. Instead, walls stay at least a little up while I bide my time, keeping myself in a “we’ll see” mode.
I had been in that “we’ll see” mode about the details of his separation since first finding out about it. His daughter, being an Olympic-hopeful for volleyball (according to him) and the kind of man he was, I could see how he could still be supporting his supposedly-separated-wife as she played manager to their daughter, but also knew that I was giving significant trust and was taking a big risk.
Stephane, once drunk at the party, said something that put me on alert at a time when I saw the door open to get a more honest answer. So I asked straight out in that moment of seeing an opportunity to finally get the whole story. And he responded.
Yes, he was still married.
Instaintly breaking down in alcohol-fueled tears, I refused to let him say anything more as I demanded he gather his friends and leave. Juliette showed up soon after, unknowing to what had happened, but was the one to sweep me off the floor, even without the details. Most of those people who used to be my closest friends didn’t even check on me as it happened to see if I was OK, let alone send me a text the day after. Another harsh reminder about what happens when not around to nurture relationships. C’est la vie.
Wendy had been through a lot with the type of guys she had dated and surrounded herself with. It had hardened her to men and made her defensive toward any sign of risk. Sister-syndrome likely making it worse, she had been against Stephane and my putting myself out on such a long limb since the beginning. With a question the day after the big reveal that was so obviously leading toward the opposite answer, she asked me if I regretted it. No. I did not. I would risk myself over and over again for something so wonderful. Even if only for a moment and even if not totally real. Sometimes, in a world that can be so cruel, it can be easy to forget that the best and most beautiful things are just as big abd worth it all. The look on her face made me think that maybe I had reminded her of that. And that started the strings of my heart to already start pulling back together again.

My mind has always shut out the most traumatic experiences for a few months before having enough distance to process. It gave me those last couple weeks to hang in OB with loved ones (including the mermaid who was up for a few sweet weeks), hiking in La Jolla, cheering Wendy on with billboards I had made of her face while she ran the Rock and Roll Marathon, dinner at Cafe Sevilla with Big Red that was followed by salsa lessons (in which Mom and Kate joined us later), wine tasting and a very satisfying afternoon of organizing my storage unit. The closest thing I had to a stable and constant space of my own, it gave me a great sense of peace and getting my affairs sorted right before leaving again. Even more, when my heart needed sorting as well.
That was it. Once again, it was time for this free Robin to fly.

Compartmentalizing – Learning How to Lift My Spirits

Life almost always brings us shit and shine at the same time. Until somewhere in my thirties, I had been so consumed with trying to find happiness without hardships also weaved in that I often looked right past the good stuff. Somewhere within the last few years, I have finally started to understand what so many have tried to tell me. Life will never work like that.

My last post was full of the darkness and pain of recent losses. Now it’s time to switch over to the beautiful moments I’ve managed to create in order to cope and remind myself of the beauty in this life.

The Garden of Eden in Felton, CA is a natural watering hole surrounded by redwoods. Getting to it requires a moderate hike, partially along railroad tracks, that I’d estimate to be a little under a mile. Hitting that spot was on my bucket list and well worth it. Redwood trees are one of the things I miss most when away from Northern California. They are gigantic and beautiful. Something out of a fairytale full of mythical creatures. As such, so was the watering hole. Add to that getting a beautiful hike in, something I have been trying to do on a regular basis, I was a very happy gal. Especially with how much one of my biggest struggles with this lifestyle has been keeping up with my Amazon training in regard to fitness and nutrition.

It’s a pleasant shock to realize just how much even being home now feels like travel. Staying fluid, outside of my head and focused on experiencing as much of what the Bay Area and San Diego have to offer as possible, I now do it differently. Pride in San Francisco was another way I remembered happiness during a difficult time. Such an amazing celebration of life and love, how could it not lift my spirits? Experiencing my last few days of San Francisco, the city I consider my second home, and identifying as Pansexual myself, it meant a lot beyond just a general party. Especially after missing the Burning Man Precompression event in Oakland due to dealing with my uncle who is working as the Real Estate agent to get my parent’s house sold.

Life compartmentalizes in that it gives us good, bad and everything in between at the same time. Learning how to do the same with emotion and response as well as how to fit them together in return is one of the puzzles of life that I’m learning how to handle.

I have my moments of being sad, angry and everything else that comes with loss. Usually because of triggers such as hanging with a mutual friend of someone lost. Also things that remind me of her/him such as my pup’s beautiful personalized pet garden memorial that a friend made out of concrete and sand, a Garth Brooks and Tricia Yearwood concert I took my bud and girlfriend to (best show ever) or one of their names constantly popping up as a main contact in social media and my phone. Not to mention all of the times I default to thoughts about them being the first person I would invite or go to for something.

I think that’s good, though. My history of avoiding big losses and trauma has just fed that pain to grow as a spiritual cancer. As much as I’ve tried, there has been no ignoring away the hard stuff. I’m proud of myself for learning when is the right time to compartmentalize and when to process. It’s certainly a first.