Tag Archives: San Diego

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.

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.

October 2019 – Nikki & Nicki turn 40! And, uh, a heart attack…

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October started with a bang when San Jose Nicki (not to be confused with Nikki) came to town for her 40th birthday. As a reminder, she was one of my besties in my late teens/early twenties when the two of us and the Lugo sisters all went to high school together. Kate was already friends with her back then which and how we had been introduced. A couple decades since Nick and I were close, we only saw each other two or three times a year despite my living half an hour away when in Nor Cal. We brought it back with a bang, though, when she threw my 40th celebration for that side of the state and was coming to celebrate hers with us. She had said that she understood my needing to work during that time but as soon as the 1st arrived, I was already distracted and justifying skipping out on hours enough to be blowing off my morning shift to wait for her. It was a fun few days albeit probably close to a $600 one if including that time missed behind the wheel.
After a morning of waking up to drink coffee on my patio and do some yoga while waiting, her flight arrived and it was time to head out for the always delicious Mexican food of San Diego at Miguel’s in Old Town. It lucked out that another friend from San Jose was also in town for work and Leilani, was able to join in the fun for the whole day as well. Also Wendy and Kati for lunch and Nikki later on for the beach dive bar around the corner from me called Lucy’s. First, though, with an impromptu show of weirdos getting agro with each other at the seedy motel across the street from mi casa called Ebb Tide. That’s OB, baby!
The next day being her actual birthday, Nick and I headed to Barona Casino with Pop and holy hell did that place spoil her. So much so that it became a happy joke. Not to mention a note for self in the future. Hanging at the Satterwhite Sanctuary when getting back, later we made our way to Nik and Brent’s for dinner followed by her spending the night there while I went home for some much-needed quiet time. The next day, we had a BBQ and sleepover back at the fam’s to celebrate one more time. A night that ended with the two of us drunkenly watching Post Malone videos as we came up with different scenarios about his history (so much better than looking up the real story) and commented about how we couldn’t look away from the talented train wreck. Cue plenty of ammo for future jokes.
Alone and left to spin out on my own thoughts once again, I was back to feeling plagued by the mixed feelings I was having about not just her but everyone. I enjoyed and was thankful for our time together but also resented feeling more obligated than I could financially afford (which I tend to do to my own damn self), the ways I had been unhappy in our relationship, her flakiness (a hot spot for me) and how I never saw her in the Bay. I tended to feel both sides with most people, though, which I believed was being real to and for them as well as in our relationship. A newer challenge to consider was how the whole almost dying thing was starting to take its toll on the way I was thinking and how I was feeling. I didn’t know what I could trust in the ‘ol noggin. Processing the experience was still new and it was going to be a long journey.
It was a month with a couple big 40th birthday bangs that had a lot more of the normal day-to-day in between. Farmer’s market, being a foodie with too much going out to eat (what with always being on the road working), took Pop to Barona again, Balboa Park, the beach, treating myself to pedicures, making it to another more my nieces soccer games, car maintenance, Barona with Pop and occasional hangs with friends when meeting up with Kate and and her friend at El Perez (Pacific Beach/PB) and a night out when heading out to a venue called Music Box with Mia when we went to see some violin-playing DJ who went by the name of Govinda and was going to be spinning EDM. I also went to Oktoberest with Jewels but that ended much earlier than expected when I half blacked out from smoking weed. Yes I knew better but I was trying to be one of the crew like I was 15 all over again. Hey, don’t judge me, man. We all have our moments.
There were a few things that weren’t back to normal. Brigit had a small heart attack on the 6th. My Brigit. The friend/mother figure who had become one of the most important and supportive people in my life. The world slanted just a little bit and got hazy. Of course I wanted to leave right away but Dr. Vlad’s response was something along the lines of “it’s better she has a heart attack than you die”. I don’t think it was those exact words but it was something close and enough to jar me back into reality. There were also a few medical scares of my own related to the ITP and steroids I had been on. Feeling horrible one day and shaking like hell, I was determined to still make it to Bar Pink where Nikki and the band full of moms she was in were playing, her being the drummer. Well I made it but felt so horrible that I had to leave early. Turned out, as doc Vlad would soon let me know, that I was crashing off the ‘roids. My blood pressure was super high and I was having heart palpitations. More side-effects of the treatment, though Dr. Vlad didn’t seem to have any interest in hearing me when I stated multiple times that I hadn’t had any major problems in that area before. Adding insult to injury, he was too stubbornly set on it being because of my weight.

Back to Nikki, it just so happened to be her turn for a 40th birthday celebration on the 25th! Giving her a tortilla blanket a few days before as an inside joke, we went to go see a Queen cover band at, for the second time that month, Music Box. It was her choice but I wasn’t happy about it at first. She had started talk months before about all of us renting a house that came with a private chef in Costa Rica. A much bigger celebration and I thought she deserved it. True I also was a traveler who loved Costa Rica, but that was secondary. I had seen too many who originally started with a big plan for their 40th only for it to be shot down by people around them. Well, turned out that I was totally wrong and it was awesome! The singer was amazing, though he seemed to be an ass when I watched the way he talked to his band from a few feet away. Hopefully he was just having an off night.
Over all, it was a night of splendid entertainment. Because of the show and also because of being back together with so many friends. It was great to be have Team OB running around being ridiculous like old times as was seeing the Sea World trainer crew from our twenties. Alas, the steroids were still getting to me so I wasn’t feeling my best. Still, I managed to hang in there for the show and even managed to make it back to the Brick House (Brent & Nikki’s house) for a rowdy after-party that continued the flashback to our twenties. Good times with my favorite part being when it ended with me, Brent and another friend (Rachael) talking until almost sunrise.
Getting the OK from Dr. Vlad about my numbers being decent enough to leave a few days after, I jammed back to Nor Cal on the 29th as fast as I could to be whatever support I could be after the heart attack and to spend Halloween with Brigit and Aaron. Something that ended up scary indeed as it turned out that the trunk-or-treat event we crashed in a parking lot was actually for the church attached to that parking lot. They tolerated us joining in with letting kids trick-or-treat out of all the decorated cars but weren’t thrilled. I could have killed Brigit if the two of us hadn’t already “been there, done that” recently. I totally have the kind of religious PTSD that comes from being raised Catholic. Churches give me hives. I really didn’t need to deal, on top of that, with a priest who came off as a sexist (and likely racist) small-minded man from a small mountain town who thinks he’s a god himself. Maybe I’m overreacting, maybe not but I got through it and at least got her to go with me to Henflings after. We both liked that bar and it was rare to get her to come out so I was happy enough in the end. Plus, once again, ammo for something to laugh about in the future.
What a trip (pun intended). I had planned to be living and teaching in S Korea by the end of the month but instead had ended up covered in huge bruises, almost dying and on steroids. My goal hadn’t changed, the timing had just been pushed out. That always seemed to be the case for one reason or another. Still, I didn’t know what to expect with such a big new shift. It was just so…I didn’t know the answer to that. I didn’t even know how I felt.

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.

India – New Delhi with Alexandra & Goodbye

The kids were gone but every noise made it feel as if they were still in the hall coming to me and I had dreams about them for three nights. It was even a bit of a relief to find an excuse to stay in that small, plain hotel room of cream walls, maroon curtains and a small window facing a brick wall for three days when getting a moderate case of food poisoning. It was a welcomed air-conditioned place to catch up on rest, make some food for local homeless, wrap up some clerical work and being sad that my time with them was over. Besides, I had dealt with MUCH worse in Krabi.
Writing stories of both groups for a time capsule the kid’s would open a year later, my heart both ached with the knowledge that I would probably never see them again and at the same time, swelled with the love I had for them and our experience together.
EEK! was awesome about paying my broke-ass early once I wrapped up all my end-of-program work. Well, almost wrapped up. It wouldn’t be until I got home later when I finally lost faith once they crushed me by acknowledging the roll I had taken on but refused to pay me for it. As a for-profit company, I was not OK with being given excuses instead of fair compensation. With all their words about how I had been one of the program’s rockstars for all around the world as well as how they couldn’t believe I stuck it out, it was heartbreaking to know that they found it better to lose me than to make an act of good faith, and good business in my experience, by doing right by me. C’est la vie, I suppose, and while that last decision halted the potential of working with them again in the immediate future, I still believe in them and what they do. Like dating someone hoping they’ll change, they seemed to be looking for young poorly-paid interns without experience instead of those with real partnership potential. I suppose what they’re looking for very much fits some people. Just not me.
Meeting up with Alexandra, I stayed with her at her house in a gated community in Delhi for my last few days. Walking into the dusty surfaces of a white-walled simplistic style penthouse apartment that hadn’t had anyone in it for months, we sorted ourselves out during those first few hours while waiting for the maid. Spending those last peaceful days away from the chaos, she took me to some of her favorite restaurants, only passing our from the heat once during our four times out shopping (she got a kick out of getting the salesmen to try them on) and just hanging at her home with cocktails. During one night, we stood outside on her large rooftop patio watching a lightning and one continuously rolling thunder show like nothing I had ever seen as she pointed out how that meant it was raining in Dharamshala. It was the grand finale of that magical time in India.
Always with an ache in my heart, I said goodbye after three or four days and started my journey by heading to the airport late in the night followed by a long delay as the beginning of two days of travel began. Including a layover in Shanghai and train ride from Los Angeles home to San Diego after stopping to get a new SIM card (due to the maids having thrown out the one that I had carelessly left out during my first couple weeks in India), I was thankful for details of home such as getting back to English as a first language and away from so many cultures who do things we think are rude.
Playing a roll with the kids that had a necessity to shut off parts of who I was, I was also thankful for the burneresque-style dance party that happened to be going on at the LA train station when I was there. The way participating started to help me feel young, hot and sexual again even in my exhausted and haggard state, I felt fabulous. It was still the perfectly symbolic place to celebrate being home.

Time Capsule Letter – Session 2
Time may fly but it can also be a precious gift when processing such big experiences (and places) as India.
You should be proud of yourselves. We’re sure your friends and families are. And amazed!
*Special shout-out to Alison as our gal from a super small town with no travel experience for making it through like a boss!

Looking back, can you believe that we stayed with royalty in the clouds with moments full of monsoon storms, all the while with monkeys landing on our rooftops?🐒 Or that we got to make a real impact on those kids, their families and the teachers we worked with?

At the time, it didn’t feel so big, did it? We were pushed our of out comfort zones in ways that included all those mountain roads with their steep incline/declines, conditions of the homeless dogs and people we’re not used to and some of the biggest spiders many of us had ever seen. Not to mention the trash everywhere, moist everything and smells we’re all happy to forget. Facing constant challenges, inspiration and fun moments such as shopping at McLeod Ganj and creating bonds organically during our free time, such as experience was just…big. It felt like rolling with the punches at times but what an impact it made on who we are and who we want to be.

We could have chosen an easier and smoother program/country but we didn’t want that. We wanted India and all that comes with. Well, we got it and that will forever impact us. So will the people we bonded with, even if just for those moments. That’s the travelers life and, dare we say, even the Buddhist way. To live, love and be forever impacted in the moment without any expectation of the future. Time to shake up our sand mandalas, kiddos.

You are all at such a magical place of not only being both a new adult and child all at once, you are also at a time in your lives that the platform of who you will forever become is built. You have given those of us lucky enough to be a part of that a peek of whimsical transport back into our moments of life when being the most alive and leave us with humbled gratitude for the gift of being a part of yours. Take what you have learned into your worlds, our little EEK!ers, and let yourselves be the light that others grow from.

We would tell you to make us proud but you already have. Even by only knowing you for a couple short weeks, we also already know that you always will.

Some special moments from our trip:

Getting out saris and suits made.

Teddy! 🐕

Shopping at McLeod Ganj…three times.

Mentor groups – Story of Self

Taking in the wonders of Dalai Lama’s temple and learning about the Tibetans flee to India and peaceful fight against China.

PJ Sessions, lessons and all the great photos we took.

Seeing what it’s like to live off the grid at Priyanka’s family farm.

DAR – Darmashala Animal Rescue – helping all those pups we see out on the street.

Yummy dinner hosted by, and dancing with, the king.

Surviving the heat at the Golden Temple.

Enjoying the romance (and cooler weather) of the Taj Mahal in the rain.

So now we say one last namaste,

Mentor Robin, Director Tim and the STL India Crew