The New Normal

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Welcome to Trump’s Amerika San Francisco style. Skipping my usual walk in hopes of finishing a work project, I instead wandered over to the Standing Rock Protest. Along the way I greeted the SFPD with a smile and half-wave (as did other protesters; everyone’s a regular here.)

Newt Gingrich used to disparage San Francisco protests as a “cheap date,” but he never dsc04178understood the sheer pageantry and choreographed joy each brought. I can recall running out for days on end in the the late 80’s (Gulf War 1, LGBT Rights, and Police Brutality). Today I found myself reflexively checking my phone so I didn’t miss my start time. Damn it sucks to grow old. But sacrificing my first college education for politics taught me something. What I forget my migraines and need for health benefits reinforce.

The mellow crowd joined speakers in singing Wiccan, Jewish, and Christian spirituals. Female voices pervaded, providing a comfort I sorely missed. However, one young man had an enchanting voice which stilled everyone. Together it felt like someone, or something, embraced us all.

Glancing around I saw protesters of all ages. Squinting I vaguely recognized some of the older ones. [It’s really been years since I ventured out.] Moving actively around them were youngsters in their teens, twenties, thirties and forties. Many had amazing costumes and clever signs. Still I refrained from too many close up pictures because the police were taking plenty of them. However, sometimes I couldn’t resist. dsc04172

Trudging back to work I felt guilty for not joining the march. However, I suspect many more opportunities will soon follow. Besides things were well in hand without me. Kinda of my life story. But it’s okay; I help most by telling other people’s stories.

So yes, CSheila blogs again. And somewhere my mother smiles.

 

 

Another Day in the Neighborhood 

Walking to work from MUNI in the Civic Center can be a fascinating experience as long as you remain alert. Mind you weaving through traffic and around waste – less said the better – hones one’s observation skills. 

But those skills create the false illusion you are seeing everything.

Case in point the Mid-Market (read Loin) attempted metamorphosis into a “middle class neighborhood”  – only in San Francisco – through high rise apartments averaging $3,000 plus a month. 

Will it succeed? Initially yes but long term remains questionable. Why? It’s unclear the newest neighbors understand San Francisco’s cyclical economy and population density require certain attitude adjustments. Conversely those most resentful of the financial upheaval must accept these folks are not going away.

As the weather people are fond of saying the earliest indicators are not good. A beautiful new supermarket opened next door to Twitter – replete with enticing pictures promising foods from all over- but it doesn’t list it’s hours and remains closed before 8:00 a.m. 

I guess if you have to ask the hours you don’t belong there. Surrounding this newest slice of retail heaven are emotionally disturbed street residents navigating a savaged mental health system. Contrary to developers’ dream designs these folks’ psychotic breaks will not take place off stage. See John King’s great article on Developers Narrow Vision

Okay how do we fix this problem? 

Developers and tenants must understand short of tanks rolling you will not move everyone to Oakland (Nice Try Libby but No Thanks). [Given each also lives paycheck to paycheck thanks to their high rents a certain humility would also be welcome.] This means directing additional money to mental health programs. 

Homeless Advocates and City Hall must set up shelters accepting pets, offering showers, and providing treatment while demanding accountability. [Forced treatment of mentally ill remains a seemingly intractable issue but if we don’t allow people to bleed to death on the street how can we ignore self-harm or assaults on others.] Those screaming about criminalizing the homeless must understand prisons don’t only exist behind bars.

 In the meantime the neighborhood continues strong. 

I toddled off to Walgreens which has been serving and welcoming all San Franciscans for decades. Retirees practiced their tai chi and lapped me as they circuited the Civic Center Plaza. Two homeless men eagerly played cards. 

Throughout Falung Gong members continued their vigil. 

 Yep it’s Another Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Fred Rogers the beloved conscience of the pre-Sesame Street generation.)

Paring Down to the Essentials

Where am I, who am IYes, like the proverbial bad penny I turned back up. Mind you, WordPress seeking its renewal fee played a huge role. Every time I change a card number my automated life goes to hell because — gasp — I must remember passwords and type numbers.  With those skills I would be a techie and not struggle with inserting images.

DSC03846But truthfully it’s been a long time in coming. Why? Communicating feeds my soul. Without it I become my migraine fog or current obsession. Neither are very pleasant nor particularly interesting. Even when I’m (literally) hiding from the light I’ve begun listening to nonfiction shows or books. I don’t fear dementia – some would say it’s already arrived – I just want to learn stuff for later conversation or posting.

Says it all

Crowd shot
Crowd shot

A lot happened over the past year. Like everyone else, I lived, died, and resurrected with the Giants. I can’t thank those boys enough for being so San Francisco. Too cool for school most of the year and then pulling it out of their [fill-in-the-blank] at the end. Yes, I can hear the haters chant it’s a corporate machine. Whatever. They brought every part of this City together without scandal or violence (are you listening Niners?). Not to mention forced the East Coast Media Establishment’s heads to explode. A win any way you look at it.

Pigeon Vultures
Pigeon Vultures

I have loads to talk about in future posts. The homeless situation spawns almost daily and seemingly endless tragedies. Our local archbishop beats the local media like a drum despite using every page of the Internet Troll playbook. With MUNI imploding and rents rising we continue to build our City’s future on quicksand.

But for now I must stop. Need to figure out what and where to pay WordPress. Then climb into bed with icepack strapped to my scalp.

Before I leave, however,I pledge a weekly post. Pictures may be sparser until I remember previous free sites. I must adjust to a world without my camera (see future post).

When It Doesn’t Quite Work

ImageSome days the photography goddess goes with you. Other times she  hangs out with the real photographers. Such was my Saturday. After deleting almost half of my photos I felt like the wolf in this great graphic adorning a bakery near Flax Art & Design. What the hell happened?”

Immediately mantras sprang to mind. “The worst day spent [hobby] is better than the best day working.” “If you at first don’t succeed, try, try again.” “You learn more from your mistakes.” Fill in your favorite cliché. But the pounding in my ears sounded too much like “grab some pine, meat.” [A shout out to my fellow SF Giants fans.] Certain photos [like this fire hydrant] caused this familiar taunt to grow louder. DSC01588

 Then I recalled a great Additude Magazine post I read this week on the near addiction folks like me have to quitting.  The author explained how many steps ADHD sufferers will take to avoid being “devastated by disapproval.”  See http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/10121.html for the original article.

Initially I pushed the article aside because I approach the world like a battleship (invoking the strong women running through both my blood lines). However, closer reflection — notably an apartment littered with failed hobbies and the frustrated voices of exes/friends past — chastened me. I remembered how quickly I dropped things I could not master in an afternoon or [being fair] not ever given certain of my limitations. Not only did it prevent me from perhaps one day mastering certain subjects (hey a girl can dream), but it cost me respect (both my own and that of others). These are losses I no longer want crumbling my foundation. DSC01566

Then I read a great Lifehacker post urging readers to adopt a Buddhist approach to life. It advised making one’s life goal to remove unhappiness rather than chase happiness. You can find this provocative piece at http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/what-do-you-need-to-let-go-of.html

Frankly it deserves a blog post of its own. It still runs through my mind like a waterfall: beautiful but beyond grasp. It’s incredibly empowering but also seemingly dishonest. What if you owe an obligation to the unhappiness? (Ah; the neglected child and first wife lament – time to put this puppy [post] to bed soon). Too many things are whirring in my brain, much like the mural excerpt below. I real sleep more than blogging absolution. DSC01551

Besides not everything becomes a total loss. You end up with the parent best able —and most willing— to care for you. Both you and your ex grow inwardly stronger  after you part. [Plus you get to litter your new apartment with anything you want. Evil grin.] Finally it’s virtually impossible not to come home with at least one or two nice pictures in San Francisco (as hopefully shown below).

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DSC01570  Good night and thanks for hanging in with this post. DSC01597

 

The Kindness of Kindred Spirits

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Growing up with a Canadian mother brought me great joy and profound insights. I learned life survives ferocious winters, hospitality trumps even the most mean-spirited, and no person arrives on earth better than anyone else. As the Canucks among you can tell, my mom came from the Western Prairies (a bastion of both radicalism and independence).

Her greatest gift lay in teaching me to seek out kindred spirits. Inspired by her favorite book Anne of Green Gables this meant looking inside a person to find their core values and beliefs. In the process you disregarded differences in race, class, and gender. Looking back on my mom’s amazing life she never faltered from this approach however far it drove her from the path planned out for her. As a result she created a beautiful extended family which still benefits us long after her passing. Image

It hit me again tonight as I visited other bloggers’ sites. Like my mom, WordPress gathers a pretty diverse bunch. These bloggers write for various reasons: to capture beautiful images all around the world; to save souls through politics or religion; or to share their hard won  knowledge and experience (without payment). At their core, each seeks to bring beauty where perhaps none currently exists or wants to show the beauty our busy eyes currently disregard. Image

One of the cool things about aging is you really grasp how little trappings matter. You have been fooled once too often, survived losses you once assumed insurmountable, and humbled by how the little things make you the happiest. It’s truly what the cliché “youth is wasted on the young” means. But of course, the cliché disregards the lessons one must necessarily learn to get where light shines through darkness. Image

It’s late so I’ll wrap up now. However, let me give a shout out to kindred spirits in my life (both real and virtual). Most importantly let me say love you to the woman who got me out of bed to write it. Miss you Mom. Here’s  one of your favorite places (SF Japanese Tea GardenImage

 

Backwards and Upside Down

An RKO publicity still of Astaire and Rogers d...

Although many tout Ginger Rogers  for doing everything Fred Astaire did “backwards and in heels,” it’s generally not the world’s greatest strategy. After all it requires strapping on ankle breaking footwear and attacking a situation with your eyes closed. However, those of us with ADHD live a similar strategy, which I describe as an homage to “Wrong Way [Douglas] Corrigan” (a 1930’s era pilot who attained celebrity status by mistakenly flying to Ireland instead of New York). Unfortunately, unlike the publicity-savvy Corrigan, most ADHDer’s fill our lives with  missed appointments, unpaid bills, and broken promises rather than celebrity endorsements.

New York Post headline.
New York Post headline. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
South Park title image with the four main char...
South Park title image with the four main characters (Eric Cartman, Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, and Kenny McCormick) in the foreground and most of the recurring, supporting characters in the background (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even though ADHD entered my life as an unsolicited burden, I now view it as a unexpected gift both for those of us with it and society as a whole. Despite popular cultural attacks – yes I’m talking to you South Park” – ADHDer’s are not lazy, stupid, or defiant. Our sluggish cortex may impede our efforts to focus on things lacking an immediate payoff, impede our listening skills, or weaken our impulse control. But conversely it frees us to hyperfocus when it matters, see things others miss in their rush to conformity, and take chances on outsiders (be they people or ideas). None of the above is ever a popular position to take, notably in a time of seemingly shrinking resources and unstable political outcomes. Yet without the “fully aware”(aka non-ADHDer’s) who possess great courage and us ADHDer’s who stumble blindly along, society would often miss potential solutions.

Mind you these potential solutions don’t succeed every time. Nor can they erase the societal and personal damage an undiagnosed or undisciplined ADHDer causes. However, to paraphrase both Hegel and Act-Up, “no motion (silence) equals death.”  Less poetically an unwillingness to seek out the new coupled with  a refusal to diversify dooms both societies and organizations. Maybe its our eternal status as outsiders or simply our head-blindness but most ADHDer’s lack those fears.

This theory jumped at me (again) when I examined my last set of photos. I could have — and maybe should have — tossed them due to the bright midday sun. Further many lacked focus because once again a migraine muddled my brain. However, looking closer I saw the shots behind the shots (play of shadows, reflections in windows, or just unusual look of items). Part of handling ADHD involves a lot of self-forgiveness. Hopefully this will explain the indulgence I displayed by posting this latest slide show.

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Pathways Inspiring the Dreamer

English: Pathways cross
English: Pathways cross (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As many of you have guessed, I find pathways irresistible. It never bothers more if they lead nowhere or force me off my journey. Instead I greedily soak up everything along the path, especially if the “everything” captures my imagination or reminds me of a favored story. Neurons failing to fire for overdue deadlines or timed arrivals suddenly launch into hypermode as I internally spin connections known only to me and (perhaps) other dreamers. Whether it translates into anything but pleasure remains an open question but I no longer feel guilt. An artist friend described something similar by noting she viewed life as vivid colors and definable shapes (all pushing at her brain to create things). Fortunately her great talents allow her to produce a great product out of her ruminations. In my case they most often feed the endless trivia popping out of my during both opportune and inopportune moments.

Anyway, my  August foray to UCSF – featured in an earlier post – produced several vignettes from my thrashing through the campus. Below are a couple more, which I hope to exhibit in slideshows. However, I can only figure out how to place them in one slideshow. Go figure.

UCSF in 1908, with the streetcar that used to ...
UCSF in 1908, with the streetcar that used to run on Parnassus Avenue (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A beautiful 2008 exhibit championing communication captured me on all counts. A beautiful pathway draped with beautiful plants and stunning canopy featured signs written in the world’s languages. Many beautifully calligraphed statements went beyond hello to evoke real thought about the nature of communication. Points if you can translate them. More points if you can read some of them (in time I will get to better know my camera).

I obsessively snapped the pathways leading to closed doors or unseen places. Some pictured active work sites hidden beyond locked doors. Others remained as ghosts from UCSF’s path (both due to the passage of time or movement of jobs to Misson Bay site). All reminded me of the endless mysteries I gobble up either in books or television (always my endless need for justice). Some just downright frightened me (reminding me of the poverty-strickenareas in which I have worked). Hopefully you will see some of those things (or find your own source of satisfaction).

Mission Bay Community Center, UCSF, interior
Mission Bay Community Center, UCSF, interior (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Finally (for tonight) I wandered into UCSF’s beautiful art garden, which resides near the School of Nursing. It proudly displayed both world-class art – include the cheeky sculptures featured in the slideshow –  and heartfelt homages to fallen classmates and faculty (most appearing as beautiful trees now reach to the sky). Interspersed among all of it was great artwork from various eras and genres. Some championed the patients and providers, others seemed to celebrate the eccentricity associated with a life spent fighting both life and disease. Or maybe just the quirky spirit needed to survive school in a hilly wind tunnel. Either way I found both its charm and absurdity a welcome antidote to the stunning beauty associated with the hill views.

Hope you enjoy. 

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