Friday, June 29, 2007

My Body Remembers

It was a year ago Tuesday that I left my last (paid) job.

I told myself at the time that things would turn out for the best, and they have, now. It is not easy to take the long view when I can't see the road ahead, let alone whether it is rocky and steep. I had times when I just had to tell myself to believe "Everything will be okay" even when I felt really awful.

This week I've been stressed out, sore, and tired. I know I'm tired because I haven't been eating properly (you know what I had for lunch today? Candy!) and I've been working hard at work: We've been short at least one person four days this week and Thursday mornings are brutal when I go to bed so late on Wednesday nights. I'm sore because my left shoulder has a big knot in it, tying up the trapezium all the way to my ear. I don't know why I'm stressed out, though. Not having enough volunteers is nothing in comparison to processing hundreds of loans in a week, or listening for the pager in my sleep, and I get to run around and drive the van to the quiet of the warehouse every day.

I'm not aware that I'm stressed and can't think of what it would be, though Zirpu points out that he is under a lot of pressure so maybe it is rubbing off on me. I've had some experience with Rosen Method bodywork and I believe that my body "holds" difficult situations the same way my mind does. I've known that I have this reaction to anniversaries for years, and I still don't know how to handle what my body does with them. Last June was a tough, tough month, so it could be that last June is backing up on me, even though in this moment everything is okay.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Muppets Music

A friend and I went to one of the events at the Yerba Buena Center of the Arts Muppets tribute tonight. It was "Muppets Music Moments" and it was really fun. I think the Jim Henson crowd were and are a brilliant bunch, so when the request went out to see if there was any interest, I immediately responded.

We bought two of the last five tickets, and the audience was between the ages of 25 and 40 (except for one family's toddler and one guy's dad). Everyone loved the show, with clapping for Kermit singing "The Rainbow Connection" with Debbie Harry, and loud guffaws for Elton John's pink sparkly pantsuit.

Speaking of guffaws, I'd forgotten the pigs. Miss Piggy gets all the press but the gang (?) of pigs come out styling in "Macho Man" and "In The Navy." During "I Get Around" there was some footage of the Muppeteers singing and manipulating the motorcycles, which was interesting to see; there were five pigs and about a dozen people in the skit. The Swedish Chef, Beaker, and Animal sang an almost unintelligible "Danny Boy" that had me almost crying with laughter at the end. I said to my friend, "The genesis for this skit must have been one Muppeeter asking the other, 'What if the craziest voices in the cast sang a song together?'"

Once again I found myself thinking about how much more real the Muppets seemed than a CGI extravaganza would have. I'd seen a couple of the numbers recently, and even so it was like receiving a visit from old friends from my childhood.

I'm not going to embed a picture, but if I could it would be this one.

The show ended rather suddenly and several (adult) voices let out a loud "Awww" as the screen went black.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Women's Motorcycle Contingent

Casually known as Dykes On Bikes.

My Pride wish is that I would ride on someone's motorcycle in the parade.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Eating Good

I've been thinking a lot recently about something Tony Bourdain wrote in one of the essays in The Nasty Bits: Collected Varietal Cuts, Usable Trim, Scraps, and Bones. I don't remember which essay, but most of them are amusing enough it's worth reading the whole book.

He asks us to eat good things.

Not things that are good for us, nor just things that taste good. He advises first of all to eat things that taste good, yes, but he also requests that we eat things that are prepared well. He is, obviously, against fast food, but not for the same reasons Eric Schlosser is; Bourdain is about quality ingredients and skilled preparation. I don't think he says this, but I think he would agree with eating everything as if it were the last thing you were going to eat.

Because I work around food every day, and because I've been learning more and more about food preparation from the great cooks and the foodies in my life, I am getting an increasing understanding of food quality. The food bank receives a lot of stuff from farmers' markets and from Trader Joe's, so I'm tasting better-quality, fresher, and riper (sometimes too-ripe) everything. At the same time, the range of quality of the nonperishable goods is huge, and the labels tell me so, even if it's the same item (like three brands of chicken noodle soup, for example).

I've been thinking about eating better everything. There are things that I like for which I'm not looking to change my taste, but there are things that I think I might like better if I found better versions (grape tomatoes from TJ's were this year's revelation; I thought I didn't like tomatoes). It seems that these days I consider eating things by asking myself, "Is this worth my time and my taste buds?"

If the Mother Ship arrived to pick me up, would I want the last thing I ate to be Cheetos?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Write What You Know

That's the advice given to new writers, the advice I received when I was majoring in creative writing. Even if you were writing science fiction, the core of the story had to be something you knew about, or something you had imagined so completely that you believed in it.

I arrived at work this morning wondering if I should ask the FBD what policy may be invented around blogging. Writing from life, which is what I've been doing for year, may cause a problem. When I was just volunteering, there were no repercussions about blogging. I still don't think there would be. This blog is about the other stuff I know: My sexuality, my marriage, my friends, my family, and my memories. Oh, and my opinions. I'm not sure I want to explain all that to the FBD either.

I feel like I've hit my stride with writing daily, and its being public keeps me honest: I have a commitment to two people in Washington State! I'm enjoying doing it, even in the middle of the night when I should be in bed.

I hadn't thought about any of this when I started. I'm not sure what to do.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Bi Visible

A couple bi group members made a Bisexuality Pride Flag for the Dyke March, burning the midnight oil to get it done the other night. They did a really great job!

The stripes are pink, purple, and blue; I've thought this was, you know, pink for girls, blue for boys, purple overlap in the middle, but I overheard someone from Bay Area Bisexual Network say that it was half of the colors in the rainbow. I carried the flag during most of the March and woke with sore biceps this morning.

There were two other bi flags at the March, so of course we immediately found each other and stepped off together. We didn't always stay together and while marching up Valencia ArmStar pointed out that the other two flags were way ahead of us. She asked if maybe we should run to catch up, and I responded that this way, it will seem as though there are 400 people in the bi contingent, because there were so many people between us.

We did a lot of educating yesterday. It says something about the lack of bisexual visibility that I explained what this flag signifies over a dozen times (not counting the fellow in the BART station before TL and I even got on the train). I know others in our group did as well. Almost everyone was really open and responded with the equivalent of "Welcome, I think that's great!" In all the years I've been out as bi, I have never had a gay or lesbian person tell me "Get off the fence" or "Make up your mind" or anything else that people I know others have heard.

I had handed the flag to someone else briefly when three women of a certain age started walking behind us. One of them asked the flag bearer, "What flag are we marching under?" because it was right over their heads. She told them that it is the Bisexual Pride Flag and they immediately took off - speeding up and moving to the right to get away. I remarked to my friend that it seemed like they couldn't get away from us fast enough, and she asked, "Did you hear what they said? 'We know what we're doing.'"

So do we.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

<--- Both Ways --->

It's LGBTQ Pride Weekend in San Francisco. I went to a kickoff party at The Killer Lady's place last night and will be meeting friends and bi group people at the Dyke March this afternoon.

For the last several years I've gone to the Dyke March with the specific agenda of increasing bisexual visibility. The philosophy behind the Dyke March is to include all women who love women, but because of assumptions, bisexuals disappear unless we claim ourselves loud and clear. A few years ago someone started selling stickers that said "bi-identified dyke," which was a start (I tore the "dyke" part of the sticker off and wore it on my back), and since then I've always worn something to show that I love men too (especially one in particular).

There's a part of me that specifically wants to show the lesbians at the Dyke March that when they see me they see a bi person. I'm a political bisexual, as most of my queer identity is tied up in my political beliefs, and when I'm feeling it, I have to be political for people at both ends of the Kinsey Scale, and also for the middle: So many women have come to the bi group over the years saying that they felt alone because it seemed to them like they were the only person they knew who didn't fit one way or the other.

The other night I made myself a shirt with two of my favorite phrases so I can wear it today at the March. I wear a wedding ring so I think that most of the time people assume I am straight. At an event called the Dyke March, with thousands of women participating, I feel like people may assume that I'm a lesbian. So to be visible as a bi person, I have to have a visual marker to show it.

We're here, we're kind of queer, we're not going anywhere, and there are more of us than you think.

Friday, June 22, 2007

No's Birthday

My younger brother is 37 today.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Community Service Hours for Students

We are starting to get calls from youth (or their parents) who are interested in putting in some hours at the food bank to complete their community service hours for graduation. It seems that the middle schools in Alameda require between twenty and twenty-five hours, depending on the school, for students to graduate from eighth grade.

I have mixed feelings about requiring community service hours to graduate from middle school. The main thrust of service learning is that the students will integrate the experience into their educations, but I think that the "learning" part of "service learning" has been lost. It is said that community service will get youth involved in their community and will open their eyes to volunteering, but requiring students to do it takes away from its being voluntary. Another idea is that it will give students some idea of the kinds of things that they could do when they grow up, and give them some work experience, but I don't think most students have that in mind, and the "work experience" is negligible.

While the school district is well-meaning, by making students who aren't interested in and aren't suited for working, the school district is putting a burden on the service providers where the district wants them to work. Some youth don't need a lot of supervision, but more require a lot of supervision and cajoling, thereby taking away the service of whichever adult has to make sure they do whatever jobs they are asked to do. Furthermore, there are a lot of youth who are involved in extracurricular activities like athletics, drama, scouting, or church groups, none of which satisfy the service learning requirement. In between the hours dedicated to school and/or work and/or extracurricular activities these students are supposed to "give away" three days?

On top of all that, it is unfortunately true that unless a youth is really interested in whatever it is the service provider does or is otherwise motivated (such as for college applications), these youth are going to get stuck doing jobs that are very similar to the chores they do at home. Service providers know that these people aren't going to stick around once we train them, so unless the students take their own initiatives, we will ask them to do things like sweep, mop, and wash dishes, or tasks like stuffing envelopes that are very repetitive and don't require a lot of teaching on the part of the regular staff person - not exactly the way to inspire a teenager!

High school students are a little different but that's another post.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Jumper Cables and the Social Contract

I now have jumper cables in the trunk, due, as I said, to the best husband in the whole world.

Unlike most other tools one may carry in one's trunk, jumper cables involve me in the social contract to help others when their cars aren't starting. Let's see, what I have in my trunk right now other than the new cables are a gallon of water, a sweater, pair of boots, old blue jeans, and a coffee urn. I suppose I also have a car jack because I have the little "donut" tire packed in underneath the trunk floor. Other than the jack, which I hope I never see, none of those things would be particularly helpful on the road, though I have worn the sweater myself.

Jumping a car is always something someone else does for you. If your car battery weren't dead you wouldn't need it to be charged - and that always takes another car battery (or a charger, which the Chevron on Webster keeps on hand precisely because so many people, like myself, forget to turn the headlights off after they come out of the tunnel). It's also always appreciated, as nine times out of ten someone discovers his or her car won't start precisely when it's time to go somewhere. Also, most of the time, it's not something you do for the person who did it for you, which makes a social, not a personal, contract. It's between me and whoever needs my jumper cables in the future.

Next time someone asks me if I can jump their car I will be able to say yes, even if they don't have jumper cables, thereby paying back the lady in the SUV by doing for someone else what she did for me.

I'll just give whoever it is the cables and allow him or her to attach them to the poles on the batteries.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I Could Go Either Way On This

I could write a post about The Usefulness of Men, starting with the discussion a gym friend and I had about moving and ending with pushing pickups, or I could write a post on the Kindness Of Strangers, starting with a dead car battery and ending with a car that's blocked in.

I know which way Boobs, Injuries, and Dr. Pepper would go, and I know which way Gluten-Free Girl would go.

So lately I've been having trouble with leaving the headlights on when I go to work. This happens because the tunnel to Alameda is very dark and per the big warning sign, I turn on the headlights when entering the tube. There is no reminder to turn them off and apparently my car doesn't have a "you left the lights on" alarm and I have now three times come to my car after work and it's dead.

Zirpu bought jumper cables last weekend. He is my favorite husband!

The first thing I noticed about my car was a landscaper's truck parked alongside my vehicle, blocking it in. I am a pretty good judge of distance and I thought I could probably get the car angled correctly to back out of the space, but it would be a hassle. The truck had been there over an hour, parked in the street outside the apartment complex, and I figured the landscapers were inside the courtyard working.

As I approached the car I realized it would need a jump, but I figured that was all right, I was about to find the landscapers who would not only move their truck but jump the battery for me. I had the equipment, after all. I entered the complex and there was no one around. I even walked along the halls, figuring maybe a door would be open and I could ask for the guys who owned the truck. If I were parked that illegally, and blocking a private car and a limousine, I would be keeping tabs on my vehicle, especially in Alameda.

As I went back out to the car a woman in an SUV was dropping a friend off and she agreed to jump my car for me. The only problem was that neither of us had actually done it before, but I had the box with instructions and was fighting the "oh my god, what if I blow up?" feeling that was rising in my belly. I've certainly observed many men use jumper cables, on my cars and on others' cars, but I've never done it myself.

A guy came out of the complex and as I was about to ask him if he knew anything about the landscapers he offered to help us jump the car. Not about to refuse, I said sure, and he set up the cables and the car started. I thanked him and the lady with the truck with Namaste hands and they took off. As I prepared to try to get out of the parking space, I left a note on the pickup saying that this truck had been there for an hour and next time I'm calling the cops. I didn't call the cops today because I figured it would take them a long time to arrive, and hit these obviously self-employed landscapers with a huge ticket, if not a car tow-and-storage fee.

I then proceeded the careful maneuvering to get the car out of the space. You know how sometimes you park right next to the curb, but it's okay because you know you'll have plenty of room to pull forward or back to get out? I had one of those mornings today. The problem was that I didn't have enough room to turn the wheels enough to get the car re-angled, I could only pull away from the curb and back at the same angle. Once I got the right angle I would only have the tricky rolling-backwards-while-turning-the-wheel-and-not-scraping-the-
car-behind-mine move, but I thought I could do that.

While I was doing this two guys on motorcycles pulled up and parked across the street. Great, I thought, I have an audience and I'm reinforcing the stereotype that women can't park. That's not what they experienced though, as one of the guys came over and remarked that he thought they could probably move the truck because he'd noticed it was a standard shift. And they did, rolling the truck forward five feet so I could do a U-turn and get out.

I felt like an idiot but these two big inconveniences allowed me to be the recipient of kindness from strangers.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Asking For Help

I used to be really bad at this. In fact, I remember the first time I asked for help in a professional situation, while I was working at Letty Owings. I don't remember what it was that I asked for help with; I know that there were several things that needed to be done at once, and I remember realizing I can't do it all myself and It will be okay if I ask the children's counselor to do part of it. Recently I have been reminded that I have gotten better at it, because I asked for help.

It's summer and we have been getting a lot of produce from the Alameda Farmers' Market. There's a lot of it on Mondays and it has to be gone through pretty closely to pull the stuff that turned overnight. When I went in this morning there was plenty of time to deal with it all, but then I noticed ants all over the bread table. Just dealing with the bread and the ants took the time of four volunteers, the FBD, and I working all at once to get everything cleaned up (and we had to throw out many boxes of bread, unfortunately), which not only took an hour but meant that the things we would have been doing otherwise wasn't getting done.

As it happened, two of our usual Monday morning volunteers didn't come today. We had over a dozen boxes of produce that needed to be sorted and organized and when the Trader Joe's delivery came there was more stuff to display or put away, and bread and pastries to lay out on the table. I was sorting produce and was watching the clock, wondering, as always, whether we were really going to get done for service to start on time. Then I realized that I hadn't done the inventory on the front meat freezer and didn't know what was in the back meat freezer, the one where we store the meat when it comes in, and that the egg cartons still needed to be looked through and broken eggs tossed.

I asked the FBD if he could do the meat freezer for me. It's my job to make sure the program happens, and it wasn't going to happen without another body to tote and haul. Of course he agreed, even though I knew it was pulling him away from director-type stuff. Two other volunteers were helping with the produce already, and another volunteer was stocking up the set bags and boxes. Another volunteer arrived and offered to go through the egg cartons, a job I usually do because I'm not squeamish.

It's really really nice to have so much good fresh produce to offer people, even though it usually overwhelms me for the first few minutes. I just pick something to start with and I do it, with a running list of what else needs to be done in the back of my head. That MO is what has always led me into just handling everything myself. Now I remember that I don't have to.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day

Thanks to everyone who is a dad
and everyone who wants to be a dad.
Thanks to everyone who acts like a dad to other dads' kids.

Thanks to all of those who have done and who do that for me.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Li'l Ole Me

I know that there are things I know a lot about, and I know there are things I know very little about - aside from "life in general," which is the longest schooling I've ever had, and my diploma is nowhere in sight, which is totally fine with me.

I've seen some posts on other blogs that mention blogging ethics, steering traffic to one's blog, how a meme and meme tagging works, and how to get high mentions on Google. Sometimes I've gotten the general idea, and sometimes I have no idea what they're talking about. I don't even understand how linking to another blog works behind the scenes. A lot of it is over my head, and I'm not interested in learning because I think I have just a few readers, all of whom know me in real life, and so I write my blog for them (in fact, I should probably write, "...and so I write my blog for you").

A friend of mine is very net-savvy and follows, oh, about a million blogs a month. She knows what technorati is, how to set up a blog visitor counter, what "monetizing a website" means, and understands Google rankings. She talked to me last night about the blog, the personal information on it, and was saying that by writing about work I could be traced. The way she said this kind of freaked me out, like I need to scope the area when I get to work.

I've been focused on someone doing a name search Google and finding this blog, which is why I use nicknames for just about everybody in my stories (and is why I use the generic "a friend" so much), as well as my own. I hadn't thought about being found through the name of my employer. Maybe I didn't exactly understand what her concern was (someone is going to come to the food bank to find me in real life?) , or maybe I just understood that she was telling me to think about what I want out of and out there in this blog. Maybe I have been directing traffic here by accident, or maybe Blogger's "next blog" arrow has sent someone my way. It could happen. My friend suggested that it has.

That discussion led to the thought that I'm now writing on the 'net about my employer, which would have never been my intention. But here I am, working for them and so all of my past writings (not to mention any future) are about my employer. Fortunately I've only said good things about the food bank, and I don't have anything bad (really!) to say about it, the FB director, or the FB board, and also fortunately it is not some big state institution or corporation. I will only write about clients without any identifiable characteristics, but I wasn't going to do that anyway. Now, if I ever would have been so inclined, I won't be writing about the volunteers at all.

I suppose I have been terribly naive, but I am still so naive that I still don't exactly understand what consequences might be lurking out there for what actions. I'm still writing for a tiny audience of friends. I may continue assuming that most people wouldn't care about what I write on this project, or I might change the way I leave comments on other people's blogs, which it turns out is one way to steer traffic your way. I didn't really know that.

I told my friend that I was probably going to post about this.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Old friends

Bink, myself, Mrs. P., Jujubi, Spudwhip, and friend
Halloween 1989

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Best Laid Plans

My first year on the staff at Odyssey I was very close with one of the other staffers, Somwell. Somwell was large and gentle, always gave people his full attention, told the truth about how he was feeling (most of the time), and was basically magnetic. We were attracted to each other, and it felt, that week, as if we were attached at the hip in the few off hours that we had during camp. I remember one time when we sat so close that I felt his beard on my cheek while we were chatting with some other staffers.

Many of those hours of chatting happened late at night. The youth staff took over around 10pm, and the younger set of the adult staff would hang out in the lodge for a couple of hours afterwards. During training Somwell and I had hung out until the early hours of the morning, and during camp we did too. Camp was emotionally and physically draining, but it was hard for me to wind down at night, and I had never liked going to bed anyway.

We had a staff meeting every morning directly after breakfast. Halfway through the week, at the meeting I made an announcement asking people to encourage me to go to bed by midnight. Everyone agreed. That night, while shooting the breeze in the lodge, several people noted that it was creeping toward midnight and that I had asked them to tell me to go to bed. I agreed that I had, and I thanked them and headed out.

Sitting on the picnic table about ten yards from the lodge was Somwell. He was looking at the night sky, and it seems that I can remember he was looking at the moon or that he was looking at the stars. The place where camp was held was in a pretty rural area, so the sky would have been lit up either way. He called to me, and I walked over. I hadn't seen him as I had passed the table. He asked me where I was going "so early" and I explained that I had asked people to help me go to bed at a reasonable hour. He didn't remember that; it turned out that he had missed the staff meeting that morning. Of course if anyone was going to keep me up it would have been he, and we talked for at least an hour.

I got back to the bunk cabin I shared with some other staffers, crept in to get my toothbrush and paste, and went to the bathrooms to get ready for bed. As I walked away from the cabin, again I heard my name called, this time by one of my bunkmates. She had followed me out because she really wanted to talk about something that she felt she could only share with me. She'd heard me ask for support for my relatively early bedtime and had been waiting. That led to more conversation in the bathrooms after I was done brushing my teeth.

I remember this specifically: The clock by YaYaWOT's bunk read 2:20 when I climbed into my bed.

The Loving Decision

I heard on NPR the other day that it was the 40th anniversary of the Loving Decision, which resulted in the nullification of all miscegenation laws then still enacted in twelve states. While it wouldn't have been less important a decision if the Lovings had been named, say, Smith, I think that it's pretty great that a lawsuit about on a couple's marriage was named after a couple named Loving, because that's what they were doing: Loving.

The couple's lawyer, Bernard Cohen, says that "They just were in love with one another and wanted the right to live together as husband and wife in Virginia, without any interference from officialdom."

While I was listening to this story I was thinking about how much pavement the first civil rights movement laid on the road that queer people are walking on now. So much of it sounded familiar. It seemed like I could replace "husband and wife" with "spouses" and refer to places other than San Francisco, Vermont, or Canada and the story would be, as they say, today's headlines.

Forty years ago is practically in my lifetime, which in one way is shocking enough. It's hard to believe that there would be any reason to forbid by law anyone's loving anyone else just because of a difference in skin color. In a way this gives me hope that stupid things like the Defense of Marriage Act* and anti-gay marriage laws in states will someday tumble, just as miscegenation laws did.

* When I found this link via Google, there were two ads at the top of the page with the cite: One for divorce attorneys in Omaha and one for couples counseling. Ha ha ha!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I thought I was going to write about what I want to get out of my supervisory experience.

But it's turned out to be about what I want others to get out of my supervisory experience.

A few years ago I applied for a position in which I would be supervising other financial aid counselors. I didn't get the position because I didn't have any (actually very little) supervisory experience on my resume. When I talked to my financial aid career mentor, she suggested that I get involved in some volunteer activity that would result in my supervising people, which I could then indicate on my resume when applying for associate director- and director- level positions. Later I decided that I didn't want to be a financial aid director while I was listening to a speaker in a professional development seminar talking about how the "subject matter experts" get promoted away from the things they love to do. I realized that directors generally have very little student contact and a lot of administration contact. Now I don't know if I even want to go back to FA, in any capacity.

At the food bank I am suddenly supervising a whole lot of people, ranging from two to ten individuals per day. I think the food bank has about sixty volunteers, including drivers; technically, by my being Program Coordinator, I'm their boss. Not that it feels that way - the food bank is definitely an ensemble production, and most of the current volunteers have been working at the FB much much longer than I have been. I've told some of them that the only decision they could make of which I would disapprove would involve them putting their hands on a client.

I've decided that I will not be the kind of boss who asks others to do tasks I am not willing to do myself. I hate mopping floors, but I asked someone to do it because I know he likes to do things he knows how to do, and then I told him he is my hero because I hate mopping. This afternoon when I was moving our trash bins around (we have four kinds of trash bins, and probably a dozen bins total) to bring the empty ones to easier access, I was thinking to myself that I don't want to be a person who tells someone else to do something like that just because it is icky, or a "supervisor-only" type boss.

The kind of boss (and I use this term very very loosely) I want to be is one who is willing to do any of the jobs in the place. I want to lead us further into a culture of inclusion and welcome, and I don't mean that in terms of some diversity BS listed in every college mission statement I've seen. I want our mentally ill and disabled volunteers to feel like they are participating in "normal everyday life." I want to encourage people to make good decisions and to trust the decisions they make. I want people to have fun at the FB because we aren't paying them in anything other than thanks. I want the people who come to work some community service hours to want to come back, or at least give us a cash donation come Christmastime, because they remember our project with fondness. I also want the clients to feel respected and recognized as human beings with a story and characteristics beyond "being poor."

When people come to the food bank, I want them to feel fed in their bellies and in their hearts.

Monday, June 11, 2007

A thousand pictures tell...

June 9, 2007

Zirpu and I start the I5 Boogie.

Mount Shasta

Zirpu's sister and her dog Izzy

Zirpu's mom's canine companion Dusty 2, who's not very bright even for a cocker spaniel.

Yard art in Zirpu's dad's and stepmom's yard

Happy birthday Rat Chaser!

One of the nieces with the lighter

Lilwil and Bink


K-Bob and Zirpu get in one last game before bed

June 10, 2007

Zirpu at Powell's City of Books

Shobi-wan's family

I've been living in Hayward long enough to be impressed with restored vehicles, but the Harry and David's store in Medford is pretty good too.

Bug and Pia take collections for Bug's college fund

Boy gets tossed in the pool for some infraction

Half the crowd who met for breakfast at the Lumberjack Restaurant in Redding

Bug's fellow gets some treatment for his hangover

Pia's son Otter practices raspberries while I smile at the camera

Pia walks on water on Bug's second-place winning physics project

June 11, 2007

Home again: 2,122 miles round trip

Hayward --> Clackamas --> Bellingham --> Anacortes (I took the ferry from there) --> Bellingham --> Tacoma --> Portland --> Redding --> Hayward

There should be a picture of Miss Cuteness and the Fireball, but they were having such a frenzy when we saw them that it wasn't possible to capture it. There are no pictures from the ferry ride because it was so beautiful and grey-green that they wouldn't have translated to film (or should I say "film" since it's all just electrons anyway?).

Friday, June 8, 2007

Hello, Life.

So, I did write every day this week, but not here. I did my writing in longhand, in the blue Mead notebook I'm currently using as a journal. I had some access issues: keeping Zirpu's laptop powered up, getting somewhere with WiFi, and it is, after all, Zirpu's laptop and not mine...

Unlike last week, though, I will not be transferring what I wrote in my journal into this blog. Believe it or not, I do not post about everything I'm thinking, and a lot of what I have been thinking is about other people and those things are those people's stories to tell. You'll just have to take my word for it that I wrote every day. I have come up with some good ideas for future posts, too.


Bug is graduating from high school tonight. I keep thinking that this should blow my mind, because it seems impossible that Bug and Boy should have grown up this much while I haven't changed in the last eleven years. However, Bug is way ready to be done with high school and start her "real life" in the fall.

It's not how I remember ending my high school years. I had applied to just two colleges which could not have been more different, San Francisco State and University of Puget Sound. I had decided to go to Puget Sound while standing in line at a grocery store with Mom. My thought process was this: "I think I should see what it would be like without this circle of friends. If it's terrible, I can always come back at the semester break."

I attended an unusually small public high school in San Francisco and there were just 154 of us on stage that afternoon. Each of us was going to give the principal a penny as she gave us our diplomas, but some students persuaded the rest of us that it would be disrespectful and "ruin graduation." A friend gave me a bottle of bubbles and we blew bubbles during the ceremony.
Afterwards the family, some family friends, and I went out to dinner to celebrate. I was not in a celebratory mood - in retrospect, I think I was frightened about leaving home, both my mother's house and my high school, which I loved and had been such a relief after junior high.

My friend Chuch had invited me to the graduation party his parents were hosting, and I spent the dinner waiting for it to end so I could go to his house. Chuch was in one of the circles in which I traveled, but we didn't spend a lot of time together, just usually in the early mornings in Mrs. Myszak's classroom. We knew each other, because everyone in my class did, but he wasn't one of my close-close friends.

The dinner went long. There were a lot of adults. Finally we got back to the house and I took Mom's car to Chuch's. When I got there the party was over and his folks had either gone to bed or out. Chuch pulled a bottle of champagne out of the ice-filled washing machine and we walked to a playground nearby.

I only remember that we sat on the swings, drank from the bottle, and talked. I've recently been in touch with Chuch and that's what he remembers too. Both of us remember that part of the evening as if it was the event that sealed our friendship, though we were at the end of our daily contact.

I remember that it was a warm, quiet night with the stars twinkling above us and the city lights twinkling below. I remember that we talked about Life, and Adulthood, and Leaving Home. "Real Life." I remember that I felt like Chuch understood me better that night than anyone else had for weeks.

If that's not how it was, well, it's my memory that matters.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Three In One

June 1, 2007

I drove this morning from the hotel in Clackamas to Everett. I'm not as familiar with 205, which bends around the east side of Portland, as I am with I5, but last night I knew that we would be more likely to find a mid range hotel and that we would be less likely to get stuck in rush traffic this morning if we took 205.

The Stark Street exit offered me a glimpse of my old stomping grounds. I found myself telling Zirpu about the clients I'd driven for one of my jobs, severely physically or mentally challenged (or both) people who needed rides from their homes to their work sites. One of them was a blind man who would carefully listen to the traffic reports and make sure I heard about the crash on this highway or the stalled vehicle at that exit. I always thanked him while conversing with his best friend, another one of my passengers, about the Van Halen concert he attended in 1985. Whenever a school bus pulled up alongside us, everyone would shout "School bus, Dougie!" for my passenger who loved yellow. I drove all over east and southeast Portland with my eight passengers, looking for school buses and reliving my eleventh-grade year (mine didn't include Van Halen concerts).

I often wonder what my old clients are up to. The oldest clients I had at Harry's Mother emergency youth shelter are 28 now, the youngest 22. Have they been able to repair their family relationships, or been able to go forward, into college and/or a trade, without them? The babies I knew at Letty Owings Center (for drug treatment) are in junior high school, if they weren't too impacted by Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. I wonder how many of their mothers stayed clean and sober after they graduated from LOC, and how many times they relapsed before they did (and, inevitably, which children ended up in foster care because of their parents' drug addiction). I don't want to sound like I didn't have faith in the women I worked with in those days, I just know that something like fewer than 30% of addicts stay clean after six months following rehab.

Driving through Tacoma was a different experience because I5 goes right through the center of the city, and not near my university. Also, the road has changed a lot in Tacoma, as has Tacoma itself as people were priced out of Seattle in the 1990s. Everyone I knew in Tacoma has left, except for Mrs. P, who is still teaching at the same school she started in in 1991. Even so, driving through Tacoma was like driving past the home of old friends.

Driving through Seattle, a city with which I never became familiar, I only recognized the exits that would have taken me to my friends' homes in those years that everyone lived there but me and Shobi-wan and Jujubi (who was in graduate school in Canada).

June 2, 2oo7

Bellingham: A pretty city, surrounded by water. Lots of green, with the big yards I associate with Washington and Oregon, and Japanese maples and rhododendrons outside almost every front door.

When I go to a city I like, I often find myself wondering if I could live there. With so much of Zirpu's family here, I have a dozen relatives in this town. I've never lived in a city this size, though I have lived (sort of) in one much much smaller. One thing I've become aware of since moving back to California is the diversity I see there, and I know that I wouldn't see that here (I didn't see it in Portland, either). I know I would miss the bi women's group, not to mention the friends with whom I have cultivated strong relationships, and my own family, whom Zirpu and I see a lot (I know this shouldn't count, because the fact that we live near them is what makes us see them so often, so that would be an even trade).

June 3, 2007

It turns out that two of my brothers-in-law host a home improvement radio show called "Around The House" on Sunday mornings on KGMI. I think it's pretty cool; Click and Clack started with a small show on a local station, and now they host one of NPR's most popular programs. Today they had a guest who is a landscaper and after discussing lawns they got on the subject of moles. I wanted to call in and ask for a drought-resistant solution for our front yard at home in California; I don't care about grass, but I want something out there in our ten-foot-square front yard other than weeds and these flowers. Of course, I wonder what a Bellingham landscaper would say in response to a request for advice about drought-resistant lawns.

I was enjoying the program so much, though, that just as I was reaching for the phone they were asking the guest for his final remarks. My brothers-in-law gave a "shout out to the California contingent" at the very end of the show, and one of them mentioned on the air that I hadn't called in. Someday I will call in and ask something, even if it means that I have to call my parents-in-law and ask them to hold the receiver to the radio so I can hear the show.

Note: I wrote most of this third post this morning, but then we lost internet access for most of the day. As I write this, there are lightning and thunder and it's raining like a cow pissing on a flat rock.