Tag Archives: San Francisco

Crashe’s 40th – Riding until the wheels fall off.

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Then there was Crashe’s 40th birthday. Oh lordy.
With mine having just been on the 8th and her ex’s in Feb as well, we ended up being birthday backup dancers also with undertones of it being my last hurrah before a year abroad. Well, for what was planned to be a year. As long as the health issues I was semi-hiding didn’t get me booted. That or being a wild child in a conservative country.

My original plan had been to spend a few hours a day with her and work around it. To stay in San Francisco at the hotel she booked as my own little staycation and because it would make it easier to be in the thick of it with her.
It was a struggle to be back and forth across the state so much in such a short amount of time but I managed to jam back to SF from San Diego on the 13th. Driving through the beautiful snow-covered overpass on the San Gabriel mountains and getting texts from Crash and her man as they started painting the town red kept me entertained during the long drive at least. They were cracking me up as I made that nine hour journey, him giving me the play-by-play of her chatting everyone up at the bar after the drinkies had gotten her nice and lubed.
Finally making it to our friend Eve’s in Petaluma (actually about an hour north of San Francisco) for the first couple nights, it was the beginning of what was to be the biggest event with burners outside of the actual burn that I had ever been a part of. I was going to have a damn hard time keeping up through the whole thing but it meant a lot to me. Besides the reasons already mentioned, because it was likely that I wouldn’t make it to the burn that summer. We didn’t know yet that it wasn’t going to happen anyway thanks to Covid.
I was exhausted though still excited to see my friends when finally getting there just after 10 PM. Doing my best to follow Crash as she told us booze-fueled stories and occasionally went on confusing rants about not telling her dude anything about Thunderdome (she wanted to keep it a surprise), it was already chaos. Good times and lots of laughs regardless of feeling shitty physically. Years of insomnia were working in my favor for once.

Not quite refreshed the next morning, it was still relaxing to wake up to the beautiful rolling hills of Eve’s neighborhood. Taking a video of the ladder I made for Ish as my first piece of playa art, our crew was soon to head out for lunch and sight-seeing. Originally thankful I didn’t have to be the driver, I soon regretted it as I got carsick sitting in the back seat of the truck while Blackbird drove. It also wouldn’t take long to be cringing about our inadvertently stopping and blocking other drivers throughout the day.
Later that night in the middle of nowhere, we got pulled over for expired tags and rolling through a stop sign. The cop didn’t give us too hard of a time though. Blackbird had probably indulged in one too many but was still more chill than the rest of us. He looked older than the three of us in the back (he had white hair and I still looked like I was in my twenties) so I was guessing that the officer figured him to be the responsible one taking care of us. That or maybe he decided that it wasn’t worth dealing with since there were five of us. Whatever the reason, we were going back and forth after between reprimanding ourselves and cracking up as Crash made jokes. I can’t remember her exact words but something along the lines of “oh, you’re all doing body-bumps and tequila shots without seat belts, have expired tags and blew through a stop sign going 30 miles over the speed limit? That’s no big deal. So sorry for pulling you over and wasting your time, sir. My bad.” The worse the scenario she made up, the funnier it got.

Back to the day before that happened, Eve and Blackbird took us to lunch in her quaint little town and on a gorgeous (albeit windy) drive along the lush seaside cliffs, ending with a stop at a lovely spot at the beach. I was still so tired (and a little carsick) that I stayed in the truck to nod off but at least got an occasional peek through the window. Then we headed to a dock where one of our campmates that Crash had a special bond with snuck up on her dressed in the disguise of a crotchety old man that we would after tease him had looked like an aged version of a member of Motley Crew. Excited to go out on his boat, we at least made it for sunset before it started smoking and we had to go back to get the ‘ol girl docked with help from the neighbors. The symbology to life wasn’t lost on that one.
After that, it was time to finally make it to the hotel in SF for the packed pre-party and to get ready for one hell of a big night complete with the beginning of Crashe’s campaign to ensure that my cat-eye eyeliner was always on fleek. An odd obsession but it would keep me pretty entertained and give me a little of the warm and fuzzies of someone actually paying attention to my small details.
Then there was our night out. Holy shit. Somewhere around a dozen of us went to the Big Booty Mashup where even more joined for a fantastic show that was a mix of performers somewhere who were a mix of drag queens who were amazingly trained pole dancers, singers, aerialists and I guessed at some point a member of dance troupes. Some of them were so good, I thought them to be on the level of Cirque Du Soleil. I missed a lot of it, though, thanks to being so overwhelmed by the packed hyped crowd that I was hiding at the bar. Chatting up the bartender, I didn’t realize that an Aussie with a big ‘ol smile who excitedly came up to say hello was our friend. Not recognizing him without facial hair, I had thought he was just some random hot guy being friendly and fun. It was the vibe, after all.
Usually a sweetie of good standing, it didn’t take him long to make out with a chick in front of another in our group who he was then seeing at the time. He had been pretty devastated after recently separating from his wife. Not cool but it could be forgiven considering. What I could have killed him for, however, was my ending up being the one to take our gal in all her jaded glory (abrasiveness and aggressive personality, as she will proudly tell you) under my wing to calm and comfort until sunup. Thanks, buddy.
Six of us “slept” there but we didn’t get in trouble until the next night when our buddy snuck his dog in after Crash had given the green light. I talked to the manager who was sad-upset, making me feel like a lying asshole when saying so unconvincingly that the pup had just stopped by. Life goes on but it would be a long time (if ever) until I stopped feeling like an jerk for that one. Rough reminder that I wasn’t a liar. Another way I tried to pitch in was by paying for all the Lyfts throughout the week. It felt empowering since I was usually the broke one, though ouch. Expensive enough on it’s own, I was tipping fat for drivers putting up with our crazy-asses and because I didn’t want bad ratings on my account. I deserved them but somehow still lucked out and ended the week without my passenger account in jeopardy. It would be a surprise but maybe the drivers actually found us to be full of chaotic amusement. From my end, it was pretty funny to think back on all of us clowns crammed into those cars we had turned into our clown cars, me trying to chill everyone out with no success.
Our friend Goat hosted a party the next night at the house of burners she was watching (with their permission) before and after going to an event in Oakland. She loved the opportunity to be queen and I loved the friendly kitten at the house, Tyrone. What I didn’t love was the packed event with EDM pumping in every room. Then there was Disney karaoke. We had started it as a fluke at our friend Bacon Daddy’s own birthday party not too long before and had so much fun there that we were giving it another go. Alas, as I more than half expected, it had lost it’s magic. Especially after Crash earned her name when crashing into a plastic kitty box and a random chick, insecure and slightly arrogant, began bragging about her singing abilities along with how she did it for a living before taking the mike and clearing the room. From then on, Crash would be belting out “Let It Go” at the top of her lungs as tune-deaf as she could.
The next day was her actual b-day. Later laughing about how Goat told us to do a moop sweep the following morning and then talked Crash and her man into doing yard work she was going to get paid for, I helped for an hour and then took off to work and get some de-stimulation time in for a couple hours. F all that nonsense.
Feb 18th
Date Day Hoax! Probably my favorite day. Well, maybe not the first half when I had to go to Oakland to take care of paperwork for the teaching gig and to get a car window replaced that had been busted out on a cute street lined with shops and restaurants by our hotel. Lame but at least nothing got stolen and I got it taken care of pretty fast. Not fast enough to get through traffic and over the bridge in time to say goodbye to her man before he flew out, though. It was just the two of us for the first time from there. Instead of Sex The City, we were the Duo of Destruction.
After some beautiful nature time hiking in Golden Gate Park, we headed to the Haight. Walking the streets stopping at countless thrift stores, we then went to eat at my sister’s favorite SF spot, Cha Cha Chas. For me it was the warm memories of taking a French burner crew there a couple years before when they had just flown in and we were getting ready to leave for the burn. We made a new favorite memory there, though, as Crash had everyone in the restaurant thinking we were on a romantic date. Awkward and embarrassing for me at first but it became more and more entertaining as onlookers started cooing over us. She was so confident, I just went with it and it worked like a charm. So funny and so much fun.
The next day we ate at Queens Louisiana Po-boy Cafe on the Warf and then headed out to Napa and the surrounding wine country, including to see our sommelier buddy, Ish (the one I made the ladder for) at the private winery he worked at where we were treated like gold and in love with the wine. We also made sure to continue our “couples” photo shoot since we were still cracking ourselves up with it. Then we drove to a darling Italian restaurant in Santa Rosa named Rosso to meet up with Jo Jo and his dog again followed by a fun bar he picked that had a creative and edgy vibe that once again fell right in line with the world we knew.
FEB 20
On Thursday, we drove south. First to Testarrossa Winery which I’m not too much of a fan of given high prices, snotty attitudes and wine that I don’t even like. The grounds are impressive, though, with the tasting room being in a cave and having an interesting story that included how the property was leased from monks. I had written an article about it for a magazine in the past which always created sentimentality. North of that was my second home in the woods. Oh how I loved those forested mountains along with the wineries hidden within. Way more than the area better known up north. My favorite was MJA Vineyards, so I was determined to take her there. The tasting room attendant was awkward unfortunately and there was a woman with two cute dogs who wouldn’t stop chatting our ears off. As seemed to be a constant theme, annoying then but later it was comical. After we were off to meet Brigit and Aaron for one of their cocktail hours, first with a quick drive around Santa Cruz. Brigit was finally about put her cat Meowlie (as I called her) down within a day or two, so there was an importance to making it over beyond introducing different people in my life. Poor thing had been dragging her back legs around like a zombie for a couple months but she was was a fighter so she had stuck in there for way longer than I ever would have thought. I couldn’t believe how long she had lasted, actually. We all spent a little time together and then, with Crash being more warn out than me for once, we decided to sleep over. Not surprising to any of us as I wasn’t about to drive through those windy mountain roads with a buzz and we all knew we’d be having a couple.
I was pretty conflicted leaving Brigit the next day but it was Crashe’s last full day in town and we had to get back to SF. After meeting up with my colorful British burner bud Rupert at Spanky’s Cafe to pay homage to our camp’s name, we headed back for a picnic in Dolores Park. Crash seemed to be pretty recovered but I was dragging like hell. It had been one crazy staycation and I, feeling like Meowlie had looked, had officially hit the wall. I was only used to dealing with that level of intensity on the playa and I barely even survived then.
No one we had invited was able to make it in time for the picnic but Goat did join us for Irish coffees at The Buena Vista after and later on JoJo as well at a gigantic and very touristy tiki bar/restaurant called Tonga Room in the Fairmont hotel. Sharing an expensive group drink called Siren’s Song, I spent most of my time trying unsuccessfully to get Crash and Goat to stop acting rowdy (kind of stuffy high-end hotel) while JoJo just laughed.

Goat stayed back at the hotel after that while JoJo, Crash and I wandered around The Castro looking for a bar. Showing that maybe she had hit the wall too, Crash was being sassy with people, thinking they were being smart-asses with her (they weren’t) and using the word “retarded”. Meant as a slang word that proved we were teens in the ’90’s, it had since become a derogatory word (rightly so) that the folks of SF would not take kindly to if they overheard. Especially in the Castro. I was pissy about it regardless of knowing that the way I felt was more about being burnt the fuck out. Poor JoJo. Poor, poor JoJo. We were spent. No one had continuously rallied with us the entire time, which made us the only two champions crawling toward the finish line on bloodied knees.
The next day was goodbye. Even though we had nothing left in us unless we were going to a R&R retreat or, I don’t know, somewhere we’d be hooked up to IVs, it was bitter-sweet. It had been the most epic birthday celebration I had ever been to and probably ever would. It had been an honor and privilege to not only be able to celebrate my girl but also to ride her coattails with my own birthday, burn and goodbye. Happy 40th, Crash. You sure knew how to bring it in with one bodacious never-to-forget bang.

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.

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.


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.

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.