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.

 

 

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

 

A Near Epic Journey Through a 50 Year LGBT Epoch

ImageI could hardly allow a glorious day to pass in total silence. DOMA rocked  and Same-Gender Marriage rendered legal (again) California. It’s a state of affairs only dreamed of just a decade or two ago. I will let others speak to the intricate legal issues or pour their hearts’ happiness gleefully across the blogosphere. Tonight clearly belongs to LGBT families and those who labored so long for them. I only wish my friends lost to AIDS, substance abuse, and assorted illnesses who also labored and created families were still here.

DSC01533Still I cannot help but feel oddly proud it occurred during my 50th year. My favorite college professor, Stanley Balis, always taught societies cannot appreciate a major epoch until 50 years passed. It was why books on WWII exploded in the 1990s as survivors finally opened up. Its a phenomena repeated throughout historiography. Being part of a generation who moved from ” a love that dared not speak its name” to one “that will simply not shut up” was both glorious and painful. In other words an epoch (whether I view my politically active stages or my downtime on the proverbial sidelines).

Just the week I came home choking back tears and smiles after a bus ride home on Sunset neighborhood bus. As I told my brother, “we (meaning my LGBT community) already won.” Why? I watched four high school age boys giggle and flame all over the bus about their planned dates and summer jobs. Yet no one moved to censure or mock them. Having grown up in the Sunset my brother and I knew this would have been a near death sentence in the 1970s and 1980s. Yes, our neighbors included Sunset punks who carried their hatred on baseball bats they wielded in the Castro.DSC00864

Nor was it confined to Irish Catholic communities in San Francisco. I can recall my very first day  of (yes) Catholic High School in Southern California. In not so whispered tones folks talked of a boy stomped in the showers that morning for allegedly having an erection. I still can see the principal (actually a decent priest and very straight) running around handling it. Few expressed sympathy and all stated the obvious “he will have to leave now” [and he did]. It’s a memory which lingered in my consciousness and helped bury my nascent sexual orientation further into my soul’s recesses. I can’t help but wonder if other 14-year-old Catholic boys and girls suffered similar reactions when our Archbishop pompously characterized today as a great tragedy. Nah; this is now, not 1977 – the Church has zero credibility. Image

But time to banish those bad memories for tonight. It’s a joyous celebration belonging to all of us gay or straight.

Liked the Lucky Framing

Let me extend my love and heartfelt thanks to my brothers, parents, ex-in-laws, aunts, uncles, and cousins who cast aside generations of institutionalized bigotry to embrace me. Not only did it allow me to live my life like any other boring, middle class product of parochial institutions, it comforted many of my friends and acquaintances. Kudos to my countless LGBT fellow travelers who also reached out to their families (regardless of the results; y’all tried). Thanks to my supportive coworkers and political colleagues who endured the “strident years.” A deeper thanks to everyone for not falling victim to the AIDS hysteria and locking us all up.

Those boys wouldn’t have traveled safely and the Court would not have made its ruling without each and everyone of you. Hug yourself and everyone near you in gratitude. It’s a blossoming of all the love held fast through the losses.  Image

It’s Stuffing, Not Steroids . . . Honest (Huge Shout Out to Beth Karpas at Realms of Gold)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOnce again we seize control of the blog to bring real news. (Of course, given the lack of updates we wonder if you can call it a take over. But we will save the digression for another posting.) As many of know, Comrade Buddy (in the red hat) has been missing in action. Subject to too many Mama hugs and (frankly) questionable forced escapades, his posture and fur were drooping. Almost two years running as the blog owner’s talisman and hug source had worn him to a frazzle as shown by this photo snapped clandestinely at her work site (wonder if labor rights protect little bears forced to work).  DepBuddy

Demanding Justice we insisted Mama do something to help him. Nor was she giving up on her little guy. Frantic for help she searched the web until she came across Beth Karpas at http://www.realmsofgold.com/. Beth labored long and hard to repair Buddy  by closing up tears, untangling abused fur, and hand fluffing him during the drying process. [By the way, the Big Guy wants everyone to know it’s repaired not fixed.] She let him hang out with celebrities like Ernie from Sesame Street (allowing him to snuggle up during the most of trying of times). However, Beth (or Goddess as we prefer) went a step further by re-stuffing Buddy so he could stand bear strong to years of being a hug machine. See how handsome and big he looks in this picture holding all of us. Nor will you find a trace of a stitch on him (trust us we have all looked). BuddyHome

2010-04-14 21.52.00Let’s see Mama try to do the following to him. It all started off innocently  as the first-born is subjected to endless pictures. (How did they meet? Comrade Buddy leapt from the top of a Safeway freezer section on one of Mama’s toughest birthdays. Being young he missed the basket and tumbled on top of her head. But it was her fault for reaching for the Lean Cuisine.) Initially Buddy got trotted out for various ethnic holidays (apologies to anyone offended by the obvious ethnic stereotypes) from St. Paddies to Chinese New Year. Just remember as a true San Franciscan Buddy genuinely gets into the various holidays.

IMAGE_0212010-05-05 21.30.38-1However things took a more sinister turn when Mama started having Buddy demonstrate affinities with various causes. Perhaps the most serious was his brief time as a spokesbear for Sleep Apnea treatment (i.e. using the CPAP machine). Bravely the little guy strapped the overly tight breathing apparatus to show sleepers need not fear it. The fallout from concerned friends and bears was terrific. One loving uncle described little Buddy as looking like Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet. As a result Buddy threatened to put BPS (Bear Protective Services) on speed dial and Mama relented. She hasn’t forced him into any more dress up unless it involves his beloved Giants. (Again, as noted above, it’s stuffing not steroids; no Melky Cabrera  [snort] here.) Lets see her try to put the CPAP mask on him NOW (thanks Beth).

Still Buddy wants his legion of fans to know it hasn’t been wholly terrible with Mama. Her misfiring wiring keeps life interesting and jumbled. She makes the TV remote available each day. She gathered a wonderful family of soft stuffies to keep him company. She also brought many loving relatives, animals, and children into his life. It almost makes up for the indignities associated with living his life on the web. Below are some of his most cherished memories.

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Buddy & Katie (6)

 

Why the Rich Live in the Hills

Obviously it’s a rhetorical question since the hills generally offer the best views, freshest air, and (often) greatest safety.

Rather than launch into a screed regarding scarcity of resources, I’ll reveal another not-so-hidden secret to San Francisco. Our abundance of hills opens these benefits to the masses. All it takes is a willingness to climb or a SF MUNI pass. Moreover, you generally don’t have to go very far to find a sudden view. The ones to my left and right are only just outside my apartment door. Remember too, I can focus my camera to catch particular aspects of the picture. However, my eyes benefits from the whole shot.

Or I can take a few more steps up a short hill to find pictures of Sutro Tower. It’s an icon for locals and our communication venue. Someone once pointed out it looks like a clipper ship if you get underneath it (especially on a foggy night).

Still if you want the best views, it’s best to make the effort to climb some higher hills. When my health improves I’ll cast the proverbial wider net. In the meantime, I’ll cheat and stick to local venues like UCSF (one of the great teaching medical centers in the country if not the world).From my house, I can walk up the back entrance to both its buildings and gardens.

 UCSF’s  location on the semi-steep hills of Parnassus Ave provides stunning views of the   Golden Gate Park, the Bay, and various local neighborhoods. Most people tend to avoid it, however, because it’s a cold, foggy, wind-tunnel. Eh it’s why us Sunset Natives love it (after all conditioning makes us curdle at sight of sun or is it we are vampires :)) It’s part of why – sadly – many of its practitioners are fleeing out to Mission Bay‘s better weather. Of course it probably has something to do with earthquakes as well. 

 

 

 

Given my obsession with buildings, I appreciate what great views it provides of Golden Gate Heights and the Sunset. Though I can’t help but think of another native’s friendly gibe at me years ago. No matter how much some of us (e.g. me) may seek to flee the Church, we always tend to live within the sound of church bells. The pink imposing building in the lower picture is St. Anne’s Catholic Church and School (nope, not my alma mater). Nor does it skimp on views of the beautiful Craftsmen Houses in the area.

 

Color Splashing on a Sunny Day

 

San Francisco now enters our most glorious weather period of the year. End of summer and early fall represent our warmest and clearest months. It brings clear blue skies (minus the fog), toasty warm days (upper seventies), and explosions of people on the street. Only the kids forced back to school as summer actually starts and sweatshirt vendors unable to clothe tourists in tacky memorabilia get upset. Everyone else throws on what passes for summer gear and heads out the door.

This past week I wandered through the Tenderloin in search of color and found small gardens dotting the landscape. Among my favorites was a riotous gathering of colorful flowers guarding the entrance to a rest home.  Granted flowers were unlikely drought resistent nor did the garden make space for veggies (all important considerations. But its jumbled beauty brought smiles to walkers passing on the street.

Other parts of the garden appeared “organized” but are no less lovely in their color burst

In contrast, City maintained parks line up in cool geometric patters to maximize space. However, none skimp on color or texture.

Sometimes also plants just randomly shoot up on their own on City Property (how appropriate it’s a lovely purple flowering plant).

Sometimes too it’s just a colorful tree on a median joining those near it to grab the maximum sun and attention.

Nor should I neglect the federal government, which has added a lovely garden of metal and flowers to its Golden Gate Courthouse.