Monica has a Birthday

Fifty strangers meet in a public park. Many have never met before, some have. They are dressed variously in matching outfits, funny wigs or hats, or just colorful sunny day clothing. They have come for a singular purpose. However, what exactly that purpose is none are certain—except one. They have placed their faith in a leader. This leader, a sprightly woman, short, young, with twin feathery poofs emerging from her brunette hair, and dressed in a festive old west leather skirt and cowboy boots, assembles the convivial horde. The mob slowly quiets.

Megaphone in hand, pointed in no particular direction, she announces her name is Monica. She is turning thirty. Cheers. Welcome to her birthday! she says. Cheers. Much commotion and fumbling in pockets and, shortly thereafter, a blast from the megaphone. Even greater commotion. Another signal tone, a pause, much clapping and yet more cheers, then ebbing to silence, as the crowd seems to contemplate their plight. No one knows where to look so everyone looks everywhere. Two minutes pass, and the group is silent. Except for some minor fidgeting, the fifty party-prepped people together on the green grass stay still on this bright, sunny Saturday afternoon in the park. But then, inexplicably, with no cue from Monica or anyone else, the crowd begins to cheer again.

This is when some sort of magic starts to happen. Over the next half hour, with no apparent direction, revelers flap their arms and pretend to fly around in circles, play tag, dance at random intervals, engage in staring contests, hum the theme from Super Mario (more or less), go hide elsewhere in the park, form a spontaneous line to spank their beloved leader as she crawls between their legs, and finally, carry her bodily to her waiting birthday cake, where they summarily deposit her butt-first into it… and of course, must then sing “Happy Birthday.” Maybe just one more dance party, the crowd seems to decide. Much applause follows for super-special birthday-girl Monica who has rightfully earned it by pulling off this ridiculous, puzzling, and joyful spectacle. Then the magical shenanigans are over. One by one, people in the crowd pull out their earbuds.

You knew there was a big reveal, didn’t you? Well, keep reading!

One Year in San Francisco

And I still don’t like typing the name out.

I came here, like many, with just hopes and dreams and a stupid suitcase full of stuff I couldn’t really use. Lucky me, I found the right place the moment I stepped out of the car. Pacific Tradewinds was good to me. I might’ve stayed a little too long, even for my own sensibilities, and eventually I found a place where I didn’t have to commute downstairs. That’s the apartment, that’s where I live and love.

And that’s home base. Since I moved in there’s been more and more events gone to, more people met, and more projects done (well, started anyways). It’s an awesome lifestyle. I do always love writing about how much has changed.

There was supposed to be a party. There will be no party—sorry. I couldn’t pull together the, uhh… well, everything. There’s more anniversaries coming up soon. I’ll make sure not to miss them this year.

City of Cannibals

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Regurgitate. Reappropriate. Reclaim. Reconnoiter. Rectify.

This is a city that eats its old. Set them out on the corner, and they’re gone. See something you want? Take it away—it’s yours. If that microwave, or TV, or refrigerator doesn’t have its cord cut that means it still works. Someone doesn’t want it, but wants it off their front curb. It’s a flea market town. You know about trash and treasure, one man and another man? What if that guy lived next door?

I’ve always had this habit. My favorite art assignment: find a box, find some stuff, put the stuff in that box. I dug in the dumpsters behind Target near my college, found a tea-kettle package and broken mirrors and a whole bunch of wire, shone a light through the whole thing. It was real pretty, and appealed to my natural cheapness frugality, also.

Number BricksLove of the abandoned, the lost, the free-for-the-taking is what got me through college. And when I say “got me through” I of course mean gave me something to do when I became too frustrated or bored with the school on old Fort Ord, and fell back to the Ord itself. My room was furnished with the 10 year-old leavings of a different institution, the Army, while my classes seemed simultaneously filled with different leavings.

I traveled abroad, and the most consistent fun I could find was exploring the drains of another country, finding little secrets and incidental items, dumpster diving with locals despite what other locals might think. Did you know there’s a drain that leads directly from the rainforest in Airlie Beach, past its campsites, underneath the main highway, and emerges directly on the beach? I miss the Cave Clan, even though I was never a member.

No surprise I should be happy in my new town, one might guess. There’s a Cathedral to tagging right on the waterfront. It’s next to the abandoned bus yard. Art cars, stock metal piled and forged onto them, are here and there. At the moment I’m on top of a street-bedframe, typing on a computer which rests on a street-desk, next to another monitor on top of a piano bench begotten from a yard sale, all for free. We got a chair at that same yard sale, then covered it in cool fabric samples glean’d from Craigslist free. We put it in our sitting room which is filled with some free plants; the urban garden down the street supplies them.

Of course there was the one occasion where, wandering down Haight street, finding a nice (different) piano bench and carrying it off, I was accosted several blocks afterward by a wild-eyed guy saying I took his bench. A little bewildered, I figured out that he’d found it earlier that day and had been trying to sell it ever since. I didn’t pay him the $5 he wanted, even if it was decent furniture. Violates the spirit of the thing.

There’s a lot of free culture, which makes that incident so unusual. More than anywhere else I’ve lived people get it. I’m not looked down on if I desire something cool in a dumpster. Even if I’m in the Financial District, businessman don’t get suspicious when I take their discarded office chair with me. These aren’t company secrets, and that’s why you put this thing out to begin with: so someone else would take it away for you. At the dump they weigh you when you get in and when you get out—if you take as much as you brought, you don’t pay anything. Give me a week and a moving van; I’ll give you an apartment another city-dweller in another city would cry over.

It’s recycling. It’s healthy. It means there’s less waste, what with everybody using everything once and twice and thrice. So what if my cabinet is the same as my neighbors’ before they found another one? A little cannibalism, a little creativity, a good city, can go a long way.

Walking Outside on 4th of July

I had no idea what to do this fourth. Maybe I was gonna dress up like a salmon and bother tourists (it seemed only fair). But instead, I just walked outside. I walked outside. And my neighborhood took care of it for me. You have no idea how much I love this town.

Directly outside there were people setting off the screamy ones that don’t leave a lot of smoke. Down the street I could see big ones. We got in the car and drove southwards, toward Bernal Hill. We figured we could get a nice wide view of the entire Mission (which, apparently, is a “hotbed” of illegal fireworks). Unfortunately some other damn fool had the bright idea to light off some of the same from that dry, grassy park at the top of a windy hill, and… well, we drove outta there pretty fast once we figured that out. Precita Park was cool. The little lady’s new camera got such a workout her batteries died. Someone blew up a garbage can. The SFFD showed up with a big spotlight but didn’t say anything to anyone, and all was understood. The projects down about Cesar Chavez and Harrison were lit up, streets closed off with stolen (borrowed) traffic cones, its intersection packed with people standing 200-300 feet directly below the wink-and-a-nod explosions, each family who wanted to celebrate taking turns which meant at least three separate finales… that I saw.

Did I mention I barbecued burgers on our backyard balcony? Cause I did and they were delicious. Just wanted to mention. Happy Fourth, San Francisco.

Arts and Culture

It’s real easy to feel culturally enriched if you’re lucky. I’m lucky I live in San Francisco. Why, just this weekend I went to two totally bitchin’ open houses for artist’s workspaces in my own neighborhood, experienced a dissertation’s worth of great art, and participated in a super-hip book swap where I traded in the original novelization of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi ("dweet-doo-dee-doo-weee-oop," R2-D2 beeped at the stubborn main computer) for the likes of Will Self’s “Junk Mail,” Nick Hornby’s “Polysyllabic Spree,” two short story anthologies, a Charlie Anders book, and a half-dozen other lucky literary insurgents. There was so little effort involved in doing cool stuff it almost made me feel jaded. But then I realized that I realized how cool it was. And then I was fine.

Weird Street

Look at you, in your little green tutu with the pink trim. I see you’re co-ordinated with the tights. And with the pink and green foofura tufts around the shade structures, even. Who just keeps neon green fishnets lying around the house, nowadays? You do. Great getup… although it doesn’t really match the wig. That is a wig, I hope? The dark sunglasses bring everything together and remind me that, hey, you have facial hair. Your girlfriend’s pretty hot too.

I went to the How Weird Street Fair along Howard street, here in San Francisco. A very San Francisco event. Midday not many people were there, but the later I stayed the more teeming and freaky and hot it became. When I say hot, I mean summertime-hot, unforeseen unseasonably early-May hot, hojeez I think my sunburn matches my red shirt hot. Lots of people-watching, loads of dancing, more loud music than you could shake the ground at. It’s like a preview of Burning Man without the water rationing. I didn’t dance—a reasonable fear of overheating. Perhaps also an unreasonable fear that dancing would annoy more than amuse.

Heard there was talk of shutting it down, before. I left earlier in the day, around three, and missed some action. There’s a lot of talk now about shutting it down, after. I sure hope not. Seems about ten or fewer people on the street don’t like the noise it causes one Sunday a year. Despite the signed petition of around 100 residents, the city and police wanna be rid of it. Damned if I’m the first to say it—but that’s pretty weird.

Womb with a View

Home. Returning home. I want to return home.

That was me, four days ago. I’m back. I’ve returned from returning. I got stuff. New undies (manties), some chocolate, some booze, some womper speakers. I got a new book about San Francisco and writing. I got a mind to do a lot of things. One of ’em is to write.

So here I am, writing the wannabe sublime. I wonder how many of my friends and family realize that a blog is not really a window to the subconscious? Glot. Glot glot. Editing is for sissies.

My feeling about the hostel has undergone a shift. I understand why those who live here, live here shortly. It’s a great place. But it’s a place where space has to be constantly claimed and carved out, where one’s status is never in comfortable stasis. Even more so than the ever-arriving travellers, I understand this: one is judged by one’s actions—in the past week. It is exactly the same as when I came here more than three months ago. It should perhaps at this point be pointed out that the point of moving here was to find a job and settle somewhere. I applied to SFSU back awhile ago, but never finished the application… so I never went. Now here I am, living in the city of San Francisco but not quite of it, living in a limbo world where I greet the world’s visitor’s who take in the place in larger doses than I’ve had since too long ago.

Returning home brought me back into a place where my mere presence is appreciated. Being here again is like emerging from the womb again, cold and blinking and more than a little confused. It’s a different view. It’s something I need to think about more.

Spelling Bee(r)

I went to a spelling bee tonight. It was a special spelling bee… one made just for San Francisco. With beer.

A spelling bee for drunk adults, where the words are often inappropriate, misspelled, or shouted out by the audience. It ended with a cage match. Still with me? They put the last two drunk, adult spellers in a big giant plastic (or was it cardboard?) cage and make them spell things like “cunnilingus.” I didn’t have the fortitude to actually try and win, so instead I wore one of several metal colander bowls circulating about, placing it on my head, and given the word “xylograph” I spelled l-e-t-s-d-a-n-c-e. Which, yes, is kind of dumb—but entertaining nonetheless. For the record I could’ve easily spelled xylograph.

And I met a girl. Some cute nerdy kind, no doubt, the kind that wants to pick up dudes at a drunk spelling bee by giving them their Flickr screenname. Oh, who am I kidding…

Musing Moving

My methods, while distracting, are just another useful approach. Downloading new productivity software is fun. Admittedly, going on a search for new productivity fonts that look like old productivity typewriters is not. What I should be doing right now is quite clear to me. I need to find a job in San Francisco.

Along with a job comes an apartment. That’s naturally the first thing to gravitate toward. It’s the fantasy part. There are so many places to live, attractive and attractively-priced places. Places to imagine yourself doing things. What I’ve learned from past experience is not to trust that initial cloudland instinct. It’s better to set oneself up to do the things you want, by doing whatever they happen to be in the moment. One will naturally progress.

Hm. Craigslist has a two week position as a Summer camp RA @ SF State. That sounds pretty nice. Accomodation, 19 meals provided/week, which is 2/day plus 5 breakfasts. Now, to go through my damnable elimination method. I usually go through a job listing looking for an unmet requirement, something to keep me back. There it is: “experience working with youth.” Nope nuh uh. Also: “First Aid/CPR Training especially sought” …I haven’t had CPR training since 9th grade. Then again, my mother is correct in her evaluation that if they’re still looking for applicants on Thursday, when the job starts Sunday, they’re probably pretty desperate. Their website advertizes “24-hour supervision by trained, experienced teachers and counselors.” Well, that’s a little white lie. It certainly couldn’t hurt to email a resumé + cell number, though. So I guess I will.

Now the problem is that I don’t have a resumé—not a decent one anyways. I have the one I hastily cobbled together in Sydney those first hectic few days. An entirely different place in every sense. And now, cobbling the sequel, I realize that for the prettiness of the fonts I’m using, I should probably just crack down and be a 15 year-old girl. Who happens to have a refined sense of layout.

Man, this is way more of a LJ post than anything else.