Tag Archives: Santa Cruz

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.

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.

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.