Month: September 2014

A letter to my younger self

Years ago, a high school teacher made us write letters to our future selves, warbling about how high school was “the best day of our lives!” Clearly it had been the best days of her life. As many people know, it was anything but the best days of my life and I knew it at the time.

I don’t remember what I wrote, exactly. I do remember a few highlights:

  • Don’t be one of those pathetic people calling high school the days of your life. Any era you want can be the best days of your life. Actually, it may have read “If you think high school was the best days of your life, then I’m ashamed of you.”
  • Don’t dye your hair; nobody’s fooled about your age.
  • Write something. Even if you still aren’t published, just write something.
  • I hope there’s more than something insipid like a big wedding.
  • For God’s sake don’t get married, you know there’s more to your resistance than how it seems like a scam to subjugate  women while convincing them it’s their idea.

It was sharp-tongued, to the point…and for the most part, right. My tongue has softened, my vanity increased as I’ve come to like myself more/reject myself before others do less, and many choices I’ve made would horrify my younger self. While unpacking, I came across this letter of response I don’t recall jotting down. It must have been at least seven years, because my hair has remained virgin parchment for at least that long.

 

Dear Teenage Self –

Things turned out nothing like you hoped. Your career at best, unstable, your weight yo-yos like a weeble-wobble next to the elephant cages at a circus. Oh, you dye your hair all right.

Red.

Fire engine red, like Bucza’s henna, but identifiable from space.

Although right now it has blonde tips

I’m waiting to henna it mahogany.

Your breasts still droop – no deeper than they ever did, though. It turns out that that failed pencil test is a genetic thing, not a fat thing. Your belly still bulges.

You have only just figured out the Law of Availability as it applies to the dating arena. This is good, since you’re in a relationship. Yes, you. The drooping breasts and belly are really only ever obstacles in your own head – they are not enemies, they’re allies, honey.

No surprise his name is Mike – that first Mike, that one you loved that got put in the ground, he’s gonna haunt you and take care of you until you are not you anymore. He stops, once in awhile, when you beg him – but he always shows up in some form, and he tends to fill up your phone with guys named Mike.

Don’t freak but … you did get married. To a guy named N —
it didn’t last.

Right now, you already know that Alan won’t last. Tears come as he kisses you.
Don’t bother protecting yourself. The hurt will come, it will almost kill you, just as you want to beg any god that listens for death, it will pass, swept away in the next nightmare your family launches upon you.

Continue to avoid dating advice from Mom. It only gets more destructive and out of touch every five years, like some sort of inner downgrade program. Remember, always – Dad doesn’t know how to use a gun.

You keep chasing those romantic milestone moments out of external pressure. Someday we’ll both figure that out. But because of that belief in “should” senior prom will result in a sloppy grope in the car, and then going home by 9 pm.

For all those future disappointments, I can promise you – absolutely – it’s better where you are now. It’s not as good as it could be; too many injuries not to limp here. But it’s still so much better.

You get your voice back.
You get your hope back.
You find where your soul was hidden.
You recognize your own value.

You don’t have your pick of men – and it has nothing to do with what makes you matter, anyway. You don’t want your pick of men – you are still often unsure if you have standards or if you just politely reject for them. Leave that to me to work out; it’s some advanced stuff and you’re just trying to keep your head together. Friendships remain difficult roads, men and women alike; at least now, usually, you speak the same language. ((another indicator I’ve progressed since I wrote this.))

Pain will always be part of your life. I won’t insult your intelligence by telling you it gets better. All the little mysteries of your now are never resolved, little harijaan. You’ll never know why he does what he does or says what he says, or why she tried to keep you from progressing at that dinky teapot of a private school. Every time you get a chance to find out, you sabotage it. There’s only one I really want to kick you for – most of the time your self-sabotage comes to good. All I can tell you is that years later, you’ll have one regret you hold from the stack of regrets that life builds. His name was Peter – and he will probably be horrified to know how much he contributed to who you eventually become. You will think he is too good to be true.

You have one gift that will stay with you: your phenomenal inner strength. Your strength is your gift, and what divides you from the world. Keep cultivating that strength, no matter how people object to it. That core knows your strength and can guide you.

You will be free.

Much love,

Your future self

I’m guessing I wrote that at around age 29-30. For reference, I’m 39 now. Probably a good idea to write a letter to that old self, too.

I’m part of San Francisco now… Safeway managers are the WORST

There’s a Safeway in walking distance of my apartment. Desperate for human contact that wasn’t a)Mike or b)me yelling coaching comments to the guitar player beneath me, I decided to go over there to get a few small things for dinner. It was after 8 pm, the line was long, and cashiers few. A man started screaming at a cashier “I’m ready now!” He screamed it repeatedly, not swearing but otherwise becoming completely verbally abusive. She hunched her shoulder and leaned away, finishing whatever task it was she had been ordered to. It seemed she had asked him if he was ready, he wasn’t then, and he had a tantrum when she was unable to open a line for him immediately; that usually happens for some security/manager related reason, not that most customers know that.

It was obvious he wanted her to feel threatened. A line of customers looked on at this guy, screaming from his belly, and at the giant carpet slung in his bag, all of us afraid to interact. I think I was the only female customer in line at that point. It was the Chinese cashier, the screaming African American man, me, and otherwise all white men. I watched security walk by, look at the guy…and just walk off. Are you fucking kidding me? He may not have used threatening words but he clearly intended to threaten/use anger to manipulate the situation. It’s the most guy of all misogynist tactics.

When my turn came, I asked the cashier if she was OK. “This happens a lot,” she told me.

This happens a lot? I know it’s near the beach, and drunks, but wtf? That’s hostile working conditions! This isn’t some soccer mom getting shirty that her double coupons have expired, this is someone actively bullying her with no motivation but his own sense of power!

As I walk away, I heard the manager asking, “What’s the problem?”

“I feel racially discriminated against!”

I’m pretty sure any discrimination happened because he was an abusive possibly-drunk. Bullies are bullies, all colors of the rainbow.

“What can we do for you?”

Oh hell no:NOT acceptable. Since intervention might cause this guy to follow me home – and I had about five blocks, alone, at night in a neighborhood where no one knows me – I did the next best thing I could. I called Safeway corporate. I got a woman, I explained the situation that I witnessed and my problem with how it was handled, and highlighted that the claim was race but misogyny seemed a much bigger problem, especially with management ignoring the safety of their employee. 

I then mentioned that it was my second time ever in that store.

That should put a fire under ’em. I hope. I only know how these things turn out when I can check the police blotter.

 

a more accurate account of casualties

captures my feelings of surreality -from Internet Archive Book Images on flickr Commons
captures my feelings of surreality
-from Internet Archive Book Images on flickr Commons

Update: we’re in San Francisco now, Richmond neighborhood. I’ve become a bit more protective of my location in recent years just because I’ve seen people get way more liberal with the psychic attack with way less reason than ever before. Now all it takes is a blow to the ego. Back in the day, nobody did it without a Reason. ((Back in my day. I’ve read the Crowley and Fortune about that stuff. In truth, we seem to be going through a retro period with that shit.)) I managed to meet David Salisbury, and the folks at the Mystic Dream. It was a refreshing experience – I can’t remember the last time I went to a Minnesota Pagan event where I wasn’t snubbed, verbally attacked, bored, or all three with the exception of Paganicon. (To my friends asking me to go to Paganicon next year…er, got airfare?)  I so want to take a conjure class, but at this point I have enough money for a new couch, and Pantheacon registration. Also, both events: Pantheacon is over Valentine’s Day weekend, and Paganicon is over Saint Patrick’s Day weekend. You’re really trying to punish us non-Celts who haven’t sunk the whole of our identity into our Paganism, aren’t you?

Moving casualties: 5 – bottle of nail polish remover (why was it packed?), a soap dish made from a recycled vinyl album, the four-cup coffee maker, some of Mike’s Magic the Gathering cards when a pen exploded on the decks, one of the plane white Ikea lamps. …almost my dignity.

Packing absurdities: 1 – someone packed the wet soap in with a different soap dish. We haven’t opened all the boxes yet, but that seems to be the worst of it so far.

Pizza places tried: 1. Fireman’s Pizza. It’s like if Pizza Hut actually had a conscience about its ingredients and delivered the personal pan pizzas.

Chinese places tried: 1. Hunan. Don’t get the crabmeat soup unless you love bitter melon.

Handicaps: Midwestern plague hovered on move-in day. Had to go it alone as Mike was in training (normally not an issue, so of course today…) Glad we moved as fast as we did – San Jose felt like wife jail.

 

The packing up and moving out went smooth, fast, and was finished in about 4 hours. The moving in, however….

took about seven hours, and at the end of it I signed a stack of papers to get those assholes out of my house. Since they were moving into a one level apartment and the packers moved us out of a three story townhouse… there’s a lot to explain with those discrepancies. A play by play would be too exhausting, so a few highlights:

*when the foreman (or whatever they call the crew lead) asked where the bedroom was. Starts off ok, they do need to know where they put the bed.  Conversation should be simple: “this is the room. Right there, facing this way.” Nope, this guy had to make it as uncomfortable as humanly possibly, especially given that there was exactly one bed on that damn truck. He demanded – didn’t ask, demanded to know where I sleep, and why a lady alone needed a three bedroom. I actually had to invoke the loathed word “husband” as self protection. (I admittedly used it the day before when a coffee companion used the word “boyfriend” for Mike. In that case, I had been using “partner” with that person but I realized I needed to add some weight so he understood the full scale of the relationship.)

Thus suitably creeped out, I set up my Ipad on movie long enough to get video of all of them, and for them to see me taking video. So if my body got lost at sea, the ever invasive ICloud people could proffer a list of suspects.Thank the gods for that stupid movie Sex Tape – it had them good and paranoid it’s all on a cloud somewhere.

It did not get better – these guys needed way more help and attention than the packers, and kept finding excuses to ask me dumb shit “Do you really want all the boxes here?” When I told them where to put boxes, they usually went in the wrong room. They kept asking me what various pieces of furniture were for. I have hired movers on several occasions as many of you know from the “sorry, everyone else has borked their moving karma with me by too many failures to reciprocate. Don’t help, don’t ask for help” policy.  I have never, EVER dealt with the degree of hassle I did with this crew. Oh, and the youngest kept asking me to look up places for them to go to lunch. “I just moved here, kid.” “Google can help us!’’

I finally resorted to downloading Bubble Pop! on my Ipad to keep from going completely insane.

At the end, I had to listen to the foreman tell me about what a “people person” he is while the kid sat in my chair playing with his phone. Moving is always stressful, and I am still pretty upset about this move. Of all the things Mike had to leave me to deal with On My Own this was by far the worst one he could have chosen. At least I discovered Fireman’s Pizza out of it. But I was moderately traumatized by the end of it. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it here before but I have a diagnosis of PTSD (sort of, as in “do I have this?” “that’s an accurate assessment.”)  – I am very, very high functioning, and can go without medication because I am fucking lucky. If this had gone on another hour it likely would have had to dial my old therapist’s emergency phone line.

As it was… well, this is the phase of moving I really hate. Somewhere between today and yesterday my BB cream disappeared. I am using the Fancy hair smoother because the coconut water spritz is living in the walls for all I know. I am also in the process of – for the second time in two years – jettisoning about 70% of my wardrobe. Storage is tight here, and as it is Mike is keeping his clothing in a closet in a different room than mine. This bugs the shit out of me. Of course, because this is the North Bay, I need pretty much all except my subzero weather clothing from Minnesota. The only way to dress here is in layers.

The building is nice – we are the only non-college students here and I think we got the place on the strength of my lack of income rather than on the strength of Mike’s job. I might? be the only woman living here. From the sounds below us every night, it’s more likely I’m the only woman living here legally. The boys below us are the age I was when I started college, and the ones further down are possibly nontrad age – they definitely seem far more mature and grounded, anyway.

______________________

I can’t say that since after the move things have been terribly adventurous. There’s more Chinese obscura cuisine, and fusions I never even considered, like the Vietnamese Italian place right next to the Italian place owned by a Vietnamese couple. The neighborhood we’re in is the opposite of trendy, thank the gods. While the relative isolation/self-containment of the Presidio tempted me, my friends were right about this one – someone as oriented towards the city spirit needs to be in the city, not living in a liminal space that is not city and is not not-city.

We can walk to the grocery store from here, but it’s a minor haul. We can sort of walk to the two main drags, but right now I am really only in good enough shape for the closer of the two.

We’ve mostly ordered in – this illness has been quite persistent – and part of it has been me in that hellish moving phase where you know you already have things but you still sometimes need to buy them.

I have specific, simple plans for the near future. Mainly about fulfilling old obligations and clearing a path for new projects. Sorry to be vague, but I’ve found that plans are like birthday wishes – you get too specific outside if your therapist’s office, they won’t come true. I’m really glad we’re finishing all this before Mercury Retrograde, that’s for sure!

 

 

Are we there yet? Are we there yet?

Starting to wonder if these little letters home should double as evening to-do lists, much as my morning pages serve as morning to do lists. Today was something of a bust, with only a 50% success rate.

I needed to do two things:

1)cancel our Comcast server

and 2)retrieve our electric car from the car delivery service.

These things did not quite happen as intended.

So, yesterday, no writeup because mental and physical exhaustion won. Mike and I both contracted some random illness and were wandering around the rental market of San Francisco under the burden of nasty colds. On top of this, Mike decided to play the open house game (a game which we are going to either stop playing or not play before 2 pm on a weekend if I have any say) and so we were forced to bounce through bizarre situations with our combined wits at about 75%. There were two places I liked, but both required deeper compromises than I care to make. The first place I liked was just… old. It also had an opera singer living upstairs, which could get hairy on weekends. I’ve never cared for the way some of these landlords carve up old Victorians into bizarre configurations just to shove more renters in. I’d rather they just charge more for the footage and encourage builds in Daly City. Carve ups like what I’m seeing are a common practice in Mankato and Saint Paul, too – and I really dislike the landlords that do it. There’s only thought to the money you might charge for such a place, rather than to what the people crammed within it have to live with as a result of real estate avarice. Even so, it was pretty good for having a bizarre layout. The second place I liked was right across from the beach, with a beach view. Its chief problem was that it lacked space, storage, and we also would have to deal with in-unit laundry. Mike had a concern as it’s a long way from any company bus stops. But there was a light rail station right there, end of the line. I loved it, loved the location, loved the feel, but it would demand one hell of a lot of sacrifices of comfort.  Mike was hesitant even though I really did want to write a check on the spot. Having had time to regroup and get more fluids and cold meds, I have to agree. I need my all of it to be just a bit more modern. If I have to live in an apartment, it needs to be very, very modern. I can tolerate older if I am getting an entire house to myself.

I know two things from yesterday’s rejects: 1)I absolutely DO NOT want my landlord living with me on the premises. In both cases, it was a Russian couple. In both cases, there were… problems. Things I was seriously not cool with. One I think was tacitly asking me if I was available for babysitting. No, absolutely not! The other one showed us an underground apartment still inhabited by unmoving college students that reeked of dog and cat – not a good place to live for someone like me, getting allergy shots that include dog and cat dander.

Here’s the evolving vision for what I’m looking for:

  • If it’s older, it needs to be the entire house, plus the garage. I would prefer not to have to spring for a washer/dryer but I will. What’s important is that we can install a fast charger for our car.
  • If it’s an apartment, it needs to be newer and have decent closet space. These buildings that are less than ten years old with 1950s size closets are simply inexcusable.

I’m just fine with Outer Sunset, or Richmond, or Twin Peaks, or wherever. As long as I’m in the city I can get to what I want to within a reasonable time frame.

So what’s in the city that I’m so determined about?

1. Sewing lessons I can actually afford.

2. Wednesday meditations at the public library.

3. YMCA locations with morning, afternoon, and evening classes that all interest me.

Since Mike may be getting home late-ish, the goal of 2 exercise classes per day seems pretty darned reasonable to me.

Also, Mike with a remote has convinced me we must continue with a la carte television. It may be the single most irritating thing I have had to deal with in years. Although it reminds me that I really should set the DVR we have here for Haven.

As for today – well, trying to get the car delivered turned into a three stooges routine. As it was, I met Zach in the leasing office. He is from South Dakota, and seems like a friendly enough guy. He reassured me that I will have no regrets about my move come December. Right then, I was mostly concerned that Hekyll and Jekyll had abandoned my Nissan Leaf in front of the wrong apartment.

I also found yesterday that the workout clothing I took care to throw in the suitcases disappeared altogether. So I am having to wait for a Target delivery before I can hit the weight room/dance studio in the complex.

Starting the slow road to meeting people. I’ve said yes to two friendly meets this week even though it feels more than a little too soon. I’m getting asked a lot of questions I thought I’d answered already

Really, if San Jose had “called” me first, I’d probably want to stay here. It’s much easier to find a nice place to live. This complex alone is designed to facilitate interaction. But there’s an insistent part of me that really believes that there’s a mid-size place in San Francisco waiting for me, if I just look in the right manner. Of course, the ones I actually want to look at are closed to private appointments by 6 pm and are not available on weekends. It’s all quite maddening. I hate the idea of going without Mike, but if I have to I have to. At least we got my data plan rebooted after I did something stupid that got it throttled.  So yeah – today, 50% success rate. But there’s vacuuming finished, laundry done, and leftover KFC for dinner. So all that is something, I hope.

The suburbs are easy to spot: they have all the open parking spaces

  • Number of wardrobe malfunctions: 3
  • Number of beneficial wardrobe malfunctions: 1
  • Number of apartments lined up for viewing: 5
  • Number of apartments actually seen: 4
  • Number of apartments walked out on immediately: 1
  • Number of apartment managers late for their own open house: 2
  • Number of apartments just driven by because we saw the neighborhood and thought “Oh hell no:” 1.

 

A lovely, purple fitted cotton shirt purchased in June already has a mysterious stain on it that evidently dish soap got to too late. It wasn’t bad enough to change out and most of my clothing is in storage – I put myself on a very limited wardrobe – so I decided to just deal with it.

Then I noticed that the one pair of jeans I brought with were pulling out at the zipper seam. I had no time to fix it in the morning so I had to walk around pulling my shirt down a little to cover it until I could unearth my mini sewing kit from the bathroom disaster.

One of these reflexive pull-downs resulted in the top button of my shirt coming undone. Mike did not say anything, but boy were the male property managers friendly.

So, the first property in outer Richmond … no. Just no.

The next one, in Daly City, was cool for its community design but the interior was designed terribly. Also, no bathtubs and shit for storage. The person that showed us gave us references to other apartment communities that fit what we described, but advised us that the closets all kind of suck. Mike had not eaten at all, and I was just tired.

Omen: three dogs appeared as we left, all exhibiting warning off behaviors. Most dogs like me. So when this appeared, I took it to mean that even though I’m leaning towards Daly City it’s not where the universe wants me to go.

The third one in Sherwood Forest was cute as a button and had the storage we needed but is too far from the stuff I want to access – and if I have a bad sciatica day or an allergy that makes me not able to walk day, just getting to a bus stop might kill me.  The problem? It looks like it has a daycare on the first floor. I work from home. If I wanted the pitter patter of little feet en masse I’d have become a teacher. Instead, I developed a will to live. So a daycare plus shared laundry running around daily beneath my beleaguered immune system now? No, just NO. The smog index, BTW, is not kidding around. I had a massive headache all day on top of the cold I already have. I’m starting to feel rushed to get a permanent apartment just so I can get my ass back into allergy treatments.

Omen: The mail carrier was driving through the neighborhood. He got a good look at us when we went past him and parked. As we waited for the late landlord, the mail carrier turned back and looked toward me again, and waved. Mercury saying hello? Signalling approval? The landlord, when he finally got there, seemed wholly inclined towards Mike and I.

The fourth one, in Russian Hill, smelled like fish. Also, when the group of prospects got on the elevator, they all got worried about the elevator’s weight – and of course, as people helpfully identified what they weighed, they all came to stare at me, the largest person on the elevator. Since at that point I still had reason to play nice I just said “It’s fine,” instead of “You guys be just as uncomfortable as you’re trying to make me.”

I think it said enough when Mike and I did one walkthrough and just walked the hell out, to the apartment manager’s discomfiture. The place on the inside seemed way too much like Franklin Coop – on its worst days.

We then drove through Visitacion, and while looking for a place to park decided to just drive the hell out.

So that was our first day of apartment hunting. I need to talk Mike out of the open houses – while we are looking at a relatively low competition level (it’s us versus groups of five roommates, which landlords hate) it is still pretty damned high stress, since the really nice apartments start at $6K and we are looking around at $4K. That, and I get a sense that I am supposed to live as close to the ocean as I can manage. And I already went through my shitty apartment salad days with my ex AND with Mike and I am really unhappy about having to go through all that again.

Also, a few observations/interactions:

In the evening, after a Target run that cost way too much money and some rest, we walked around the complex finally. It’s cool, very high-end startup culture. I’m a little worried about sexual/body harassment in the workout room, but I am going to try to spend about two hours a day there anyway. Looks like I’ll be trying Google shop out in the next day or so to get myself a few things I will need to work out, since evidently my workout T-shirt never made into my stuff.

“You have an old soul.” “It’s just mature for its age.”

  • Boogity shops visited: 2.5
  • Stops at Fry’s electronics: 2
  • Outraged public rants about suddenly, unnecessarily gendered Nerf and Lego toys: 1
  • Farmer’s market: 1
  • Tours of current complex: 0

(for the unfamiliar, that’s a Daria quote)

The bug Mike and I caught was much worse for me today – sore throat, need to sleep but can’t quite, and a nasty, persistent cough.  On top of that, I seem to have this weird thing where my body is jettisoning energy. I’m not sure how to describe the physical sensation – it’s not pain. But something feels like it’s shooting out of me. I wish I understood the metaphysical sensation stuff better; unfortunately I once swallowed a line of crap about how tracking physical responses and experiments was “amateurish” and I am paying for it to this day. On the bright side, my sciatica has mysteriously faded to bare, minimal discomfort.

After breakfast – and what seems to be a situation where eye contact with a server is so refreshing you end up with a friend for life – we determined to pick up some electronics Mike forgot to pack in our 30 days stuff, and then we proceeded to visit the San Jose Downtown Farmer’s market. Before that, however, I insisted we go to Walgreen’s and buy sunglasses. Despite a line behind us, the kid behind the counter fetched scissors and cut the tags for us. In Minnesota, such a request would be met with “sorry, don’t have any,” whether or not that were true.

After that, we went to the Holding Cell because I needed some sleep. Of course, the weird shooting sensation out of every limb on my body made that hard, but I tried my best. Two of the problems I have developed with this cold is a)a cough and b)my allergy meds mask a lot of my cold symptoms. This means the only symptom besides the cough – which can be an allergy symptom, too, since I have allergic asthma – is dizziness/tiredness. This is also a metaphysical symptom. Since I can ignore metaphysical symptoms without consequence I end up very surprised when I crash out of nowhere because of actual illness. But since Mike caught the bug first, at least I had a frame of reference for the symptoms.

Also, coughs suck. Most over the counter medicines do not treat a cough like this, and doctors generally just give you codeine so you sleep through your own coughing. This necessitated me finding an herb shop since the best treatment I’ve found is herbal medicine. Over my years of practice, I’ve found the following remedies work best:

1)hyssop

For most people, just hyssop works fine. For severe asthmatics like me, however:

  • hyssop
  • mullein
  • mugwort

This calms our panic down – and helps us use our corticosteroid inhalers without overusing them.

My other remedy:

2)thyme and rosehip infused honey

takes a minimum of one month to make. I need relief for that godawful throat itch NOW.

It took some sorting – Chinese herb shops with the same herbs are inaccessible because I don’t speak or read Cantonese OR Mandarin. I don’t even remember which one is more common or which one is more common here and I’ll look that up when I can think more clearly, thank you. There was one western-enough herb shop in San Jose, so Mike drove me. Only one person was working and it took us a few minutes to understand each other – she wanted me to know she could help me but she needed me to be patient. I thought she was telling me she could get me the herbs, but only if I had patients – when she was asking me to be patient. Oddly, the other customer got annoyed with her telling me that because he wanted to see me get served first. This made for a weird inversion of the culture I’ve lived in for the last 18 years.

We then wandered over to a New Age/spiritual shop in Willow Glen. It wasn’t promising, but as the closest such shop to where we were, I had to give it a try. It didn’t have what I needed – it was one of those crystals boutiques in a fancy neighborhood, more about the pretty things with jacked up prices to cover the store rent. The women that ran it seemed friendly and relaxed, with that glow some get when they’re really peaced out. Sometimes I envy it. Today I didn’t – it wasn’t what I was looking for and it wasn’t what I needed. I needed the things I understand, the magical tools of concreteness and practicality. What I was seeing was the joy of privileged enlightenment. I could have it. I am a white woman who has been shot into their socio-economic sphere because I married well (and it has given me such a fucking complex – it may explain why I was so determined not to marry at all when I was younger, before I got sick…) I could tell someone sent me reiki after I left the shop. Yeah, that’s not okay, but try to tell that to someone insisting – with no regard to your feelings or experiences – that “it’s universal life energy.” Whatever. Did not improve my cold any.

That being a bust – there were lots of spendy things there but nothing for someone who practices straight up witchcraft – Mike and I went to my favorite go-to: a botanica.  The one we went to was in a rundown part of San Jose. I didn’t feel unsafe, particularly, but I might go with Mike a few times before I’d consider going alone. When I walked in, I asked for the herb I was looking for in Spanish. The guy running the botanica said he didn’t have it, and I shrugged – I really did need a few other things. There was a huge Santa Muerta shrine in the back room with candles burning, and she was there. I said a polite hello to her as she stared at me through her idol, realized this back room was for darker dealings I try to only use when I feel my hand has been forced, and found the more benign things I sought in the front room.

Two seven day candles and an oil for $13.75. In Minneapolis the same stuff would cost about $25, even though it all comes from the same supplier.

I said a polite goodbye to the guy, who I assume was the acting priest/Santeria/Brujeria guy. He was friendly, but through the entire transaction had this incredulous expression on his face. Apparently white women don’t walk into botanicas and calmly pick out what they need on a daily basis. I didn’t even giggle.

Truth is, even with the obvious cursing action going on, I felt more comfortable in that botanica then I did in the fancy crystals and privilege store. I am privileged but I just don’t resonate with its trappings. I like my witchcraft down and dirty, perhaps because I myself can be quite physical. I’m sure there’s some psychologically complex reason for it. All I know is that the enlightenment found through white light and rose quartz is not the only kind of enlightenment out there, and it’s not my wavelength. The enlightenment I seek is all about candles, oils, messy hands, roiling earth, and skin on skin. I’ve met God so many times that way, and I plan to keep on meeting Him AND Her that way until it no longer does it for me.

We stopped at the Safeway on the way home. The aisles were too tight, and one woman who had actually blocked the entire aisle with her cart startled when I simply moved it out of traffic and went about my business. I had a friendly chat with a guy in the stationery aisle about notebook prices – he was on his way to his air conditioning and heating repair class and had to make a last minute stop. I have a lot of weird “I’m attractive now?” moments in my life, and Safeway was one of them – a gorgeous dreadlocked man kept sidling up to me in multiple aisles until Mike appeared at my side. In my twenties no one ever made those approaches. I am a year from forty and they seem to be increasing. It has got to be the culture change in favor of larger women. I so wanted a full dance card when I was young. Right at this moment, I want a nap. Of course, not only can I handle it now, the guys that approach me actually keep their specific thoughts about any body parts below my nose to themselves. I had so much trouble handling that when I was younger – and my trust has improved, since usually any compliment from a man I found attractive was assumed to be a prelude to mockery and humiliation, since that’s what usually happened.

On the way out, I saw a woman wearing hijab, standing at the edge of the lot, holding up a sign that said “Please help, I have two kids and no job.” She made sure everyone who made eye contact with her saw her exaggerated, long-suffering look. Now, I know everyone’s situation is different, but when I read that sign, my first thought was “It doesn’t say she has no husband, and given the neighborhood she’s in, she’s probably really bored and he’s probably at work.” Pan handlers induce skepticism in me, rather a lot. In Minnesota I have never, ever seen a Muslim begging. When I looked at this woman, there was something indefinably American about her. It was just a look in her eye -  I wish I had a more concrete explanation of her, and one of my mistrust of her.

Again, back to the holding cell where I have sort-of slept around energy bursts and we have started to assemble a list for tomorrow’s apartment hunt. I worry – a lot, actually – about what I am going to do with myself on Monday, while Mike’s at work. Explaining that I don’t have a job is awkward around here and it only gets worse when I admit that I’m a writer. I will have a car, but I don’t know the area, and my T-Mobile plan has been choked within an inch of its life sine I repeated Mike’s streaming mistake.  This means San Jose, but no navigation. I suppose, depending on the pollen count (which I am just as allergic to here, and the pollen counts are equally high)  I can find my way to the train and just wander around at each stop. See if I can leave any more botanica employees incredulous…

In California now

Moving losses to date:

  • 1 yoga block
  • 1 can suntan oil

I suppose I could go to yoga classes with a coconut scented block, but the grease marks might prove deadly to myself and to anyone else on the studio floor with me. So my partner got a job with a Silicon Valley giant. He says I can post about it publicly, but until I know what their blog policy is for employees and family, I am not identifying it here. Moving is daunting. It’s always daunting. It makes me wonder how in the hell I managed travel in a foreign country. I think that the secret is, at some point, you just embrace the stumbling. Right now we have a corporate-housing apartment. It’s part of the me and the Giant vs. me and California dynamic I need to figure out. California – the Bay area – seems to welcome me. The minute I got into San Francisco airspace, a psychic event happened; the land and city together had a request for me. It’s like California itself invoked me. Omens welcomed us:

Yet every time I get into Giant-space, I feel like a non-entity. Like the brand-spanking new corporate housing we are staying in until we find a long-term place. It’s clearly meant for Mike – but no consideration was given to a life partner. A roommate, sure. Either that or this is a weird land where couples sleep in separate beds a la 1950s television. I’ve nicknamed it the Vinnie Van Lowe suite because everything – everything – is black and chrome. For some unknown reason, we got a “complimentary upgrade” to a two bedroom two bath. There are exactly two of us. It is a furnished apartment – so there are two beds here. Maybe excessive bathrooms are now part of my karma? I have zero understanding of the logic behind said upgrade. I am assuming that they just had to give away the designated one bedroom in a hurry or something.  There is only one desk/workspace which Mike claimed (going back on his promise to let me have home workspace precedence, though perhaps he just meant that for the permanent place) and when I attempted to order pizza, the place around the block didn’t recognize the address because it’s too new. The complex it’s in is sort-of heavily gated, with interior walls, and a combination of interior and exterior hallways. None of the windows have screens, which is weird to me. But then, aside from a lone housefly I saw at a Jack in the Box in June, I rarely if ever see insects around here.  I’m told Southern California is a different story. It’s fine with me. Bugs squick the hell out of me. Six legs squick me, even butterflies, so that’s fine. I’ve driven by places like this in the Twin Cities, Northwest Indiana, elsewhere and wondered at them. I’ve wondered at the packaging of them, how they always seem to have a slight, sterilized swank to them, how they always come with upper middle end chain stores and high end boutiques on the bottom. Now I’m in one. That’s going to take me time to process, even though it’s not permanent. This is so far from what I expected from my life that I need some time to reframe a lot of things.

My farewell gift to Minneapolis – an attempt to stop human trafficking

During a recent podcast interview that went hilariously off the rails, it came up that the Superbowl has a reputation for sex trafficking. Despite the City Page’s attempts to poo-poo it, the Twin Cities is a known hub for human trafficking … and what do you know, we just happen to have won the bid to host the Superbowl in 2018. Rather than hope people remember that connection in four years, I decided to do what I do well and connect people that make a kickass team.

Today, in keeping with the promise I made two months back, I sent this letter out to the best assembly of organizations I could:
Hell0!

I am contacting all of you before I leave Minneapolis over a major concern to all of you:human trafficking. While as of tomorrow I will no longer live in Minnesota, I wanted to use my ability to connect people and organizations for greater causes one last time before I left. This is CC’d to the best arrangement of government, nonprofit, and professional associations I could concoct – together, all of you are my dream team when it comes to solving this problem.

As you know, the Twin Cities is a wonderful place to live – for most of us. But like any place that has achieved a degree of population density, there are problems, too. Among those is one upcoming events is giving all of us a chance to do something about: human trafficking. Articles in the Daily Planet and MPR, along with stories on TV Station KARE11 have made known to residents that Minneapolis is a human trafficking hub. The Huffington Post recently ran a story that the Superbowl is also a premiere event for human trafficking.

You can read these articles here:
The Superbowl is the single largest human trafficking incident in the US: Attorney General
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/03/super-bowl-sex-trafficking_n_2607871.html

Human Trafficking in Minnesota
http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/news/2009/12/16/human-trafficking-minnesota

The How and Where of Sex Trafficking in Minnesota
http://www.mprnews.org/story/2013/04/25/daily-circuit-sex-trafficking

KARE11
http://www.kare11.com/story/news/investigations/2014/03/04/sex-trafficking-police-safe-harbor-law-investigates/5990571/

The Superbowl coming to Minneapolis looks like the perfect storm. It is also, quite possibly, an excellent opportunity to cripple this practice. There are multiple organizations that handle different aspects of these problems – and other people, not necessarily law enforcement, who could be on the front lines to see and report it when trafficking happens. By taking time now to coordinate efforts law enforcement, crisis care, and businesses like hotels affected by these criminals can all work together to sweep out this practice – and set up measures that will ensure their victims receive proper care and rehabilitation, and that channels for trafficking are cut off.

I would like to propose that you work together to plan and execute the following: 1)Helping hotel/motel employees identify suspicious behaviors relating to human
trafficking, and to report accordingly. 2)Creating relationships between law enforcement, crisis care, and those who would be the first to spot suspicious activity.
3)Setting aside/raising funds for space and resources for victims of human trafficking, including translators, relocation, protection, healthcare, and education as necessary.

I can see the opportunity but you, the recipients of this letter, best know what smaller steps are necessary to make this work in an effective, sustainable way –
and you know who has the mindset to dedicate to the cause for maximum cooperation and effectiveness.

I am a 12 year Twin Citizen who is on the verge of a move to San Francisco. In my time in Minnesota I have worked as a battered woman’s advocate, served as clergy, and filled in as a journalist here and there. This letter is a sort of farewell gift to a city that, as rough as it can be to outsiders, has been overall pretty good to me. I believe I am responsible for what I leave behind, and even if it’s just a small thing of saying something I see that maybe someone else does too, or doesn’t see but will when I speak up. Please help me leave this small gift to the city that I have proudly adopted as my hometown.

CC:
Minneapolis Police
police@minneapolismn.gov

FBI
minneapolis@ic.fbi.gov

MN Girls Are not for Sale
contactus@wfmn.org

Breaking Free
breakingfree@breakingfree.net

Harriet Tubman Center
jhauser@tubman.org

Metro Transit
aj.olson@metc.state.mn.us

Mayor Betsy Hodges

National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth
info@naehcy.org

Project for Pride in Living
ppl@ppl-inc.org

Catholic Charities
tim.marx@cctwincities.org

Civil Society
office@civilsocietyhelps.org

MN Chapter National Concierge Association
info@ncakey.org
Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce
info@minneapolischamber.org

Twin Cities Tourism Attraction Association
info@funminnesota.com

Teen Pride
mgreenman@thefamilypartnership.org

Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center
ppark@miwrc.org