I’m in a new city, so this should be fresh for me. The hard part will be not falling into the same thing over and over trap.
San Francisco zoo. I do love zoos
One of the museums in Golden Gate park.
Trying out one of those double decker tourist buses. I’ve always said when in a new place get to the high ground and then take a land tour. Well, there’s a lot of high ground in my neighborhood so the land tour is the next most logical step.
I hear rumors of a Doctor Who meetup in these parts…
What Julia Cameron writes in the Artist’s Way for Parents about the isolation of a new parent is resonating with me. Why? Because a similar isolation haunts me at the moment. I am suddenly relocated from everything familiar. I sort of know safe and not-safe neighborhoods. A person I am meeting next week wants me to “pick a place with wireless.” Well, I don’t know where that is – and since I am tutoring her in using the Meetup.com system, I’m pretty sure tethering might take a bit too much work to explain this early in her tutoring.
The first month out here, in the temp housing in San Jose, I got sick. So rather than try to go to meetups in San Jose or try to meet people, all I could do was spit out mucus and watch television. I couldn’t even go down to the workout room there. The one time I did, I had some bikini-clad girls staring at me, boggled by the fat woman at the treadmill. There’s a lot of that in California.
After the move to San Francisco, my partner went off to work, leaving me to stay home with the boxes. The mountains of boxes with our lives in it, lives we could not even think to start until opened. Lives that required massive editing because in addition to familiarity we also gave up a roomy three story townhouse for a three bedroom, one bath in a distant neighborhood. While my partner goes off to a job he loves, it’s my job to the editing. I can of course reach out to people – I’ve maintained cross country and international friendships for years. But when it’s time for a cup of coffee, I don’t know where the coffee shops are and my partner has a gift for finding the shittiest ones humanly possible. I start conversations in lines all the time – at the grocery, in those coffee shops, at the farmer’s market. Not one will lead to anything. Finding new friends requires joining groups, and joining groups is something my partner doesn’t do very well, if at all, at least not the type that I can frequent.
I could get up, drive to Oakland, but the despite California’s “plan” to get more electric cars on the road they aren’t facilitated nearly as well as my partner insisted they were when he told me how madly in love with San Francisco he is. Really, chargers are bitterly competitive things, and electric cards are bitterly resented by the underclass. The one local EV meetup I hoped to attend switched to a Fiat-owners only meetup, and the owner politely suggested I check out the EV meetup…all the way down in San Jose. These are not the acts of people seeking expansive fellowship or environmental good. I don’t want a misogynistic reaming if I get distracted while charging my car. And it’s going to be awhile before we install a fast charger.
Even if I could drive the car somewhere, there’s a very good chance I would have nowhere to park it. I damn near lost a bit of my own virtue trying to park in the Castro because of that. The buses are OK, but the Fulton line is so overcrowded it really should have a train line instead. Also, in the outer districts some buses only run every twenty minutes even though again the population is high enough it should run more than that. These things also create a sense of suffocation.
The one meetup I’ve gone to was fun – for people that want to sing, for the sake of singing. But it’s also a bit out of step, and in a pretty bad neighborhood. People there use old technology. They stick to the American songbook. They like folk music, something I’ve learned to hate because I want to experience new things, not the same four Kingston trio tapes my parents own over and fucking over. The two men at the meetup were over 50, has very specific ideas of how women should be, all of which would drive me to suicide if I were any of those things. But they were happy I was there.
That also made me feel isolated, in a different way. No one here is 40 or almost 40. All the age meetups call for 35 and under or 50 and over. I am not those things. I am not a mommy, either, and that also tags me out. The other Pagans all live over in Oakland, or around Santa Cruz.
It’s a different kind of isolation. It’s also quite painful.
This will of course change over time. As I develop routines it gets better. I’m in a bitter mood because my routine got wildly screwed over by the Cantonese repairman today, when he took almost five hours to repair a garbage disposal, and in the process brought his wife and a plumber into our house without my permission. I had plans today, and I have deadlines, and because I work from home I often find those deadlines and myself disrespected. This is what a writing career when you also have a vagina can feel like. People just assume you’re not doing anything, not because you’re not, but because they’ve been taught over and over to be almost literally blind to it.
But yes – I do feel isolated. Yes, it does bother me. Yes, it will change, but right now I’m in it.
The dippy feeling my stomach makes on a Tilt-a-Whirl
My National Geographic digital subscription
A well-organized closet
Roses. I adore roses.
So how would I share these loves?
1. Take someone on a tilt-a-whirl with me. In lieu of a tilt-a-whirl, find a safe place to spin in circles until we both fall down. For those of us that don’t get nauseated, it is very much like going on a ride. So fun.
2. Take someone with me. Traveling is one of those things you love or you don’t, though. I suppose travelogues can build appreciation. Kiwanis travelogues gave me the bug as a child.
3. My National Geographic subscription – gift it. Maybe just go analog, and encourage any new reader to use the images for all kinds of craft projects after enjoying the fabulous reads.
4. Well-organized closets are the kind of thing you have to live to really appreciate. It also takes some tailoring. Aside from showing endless episodes of Clean House there’s not really a way to get that one across.
5. Roses – show pictures, take someone to a rose garden, volunteer to work in a rose garden…
So, here’s an awkward situation: I committed to working through all of Julia Cameron’s creativity series, and along with it her spirituality series. All fine and well, except that her newest, the Artist’s Way for Parents: Raising Creative Children, by default tags me out. I don’t have children. I made a very active decision when younger not to have children, and for those that read this steadily, my reasons for sticking to that decision are pretty clear.
However, upon looking through the book it does seem like there’s still the same principles of self-care. Since this helps me stay on track I might as well. With two books coming out and one in the middle of a pitch stage at the moment, I need some help staying on track. The exercises look on par with most of the Artist’s Way vein, and most of it is about getting into the right mindset.
To give you all a wide-angle view on what’s going on:
My partner’s company shut down temporarily last spring, and in that momentary void he got offered his dream job. Said dream job lives in Silicon Valley. So here I am, now in San Francisco, where my fellow artists and Pagans can’t afford to live anymore. We couldn’t do Oakland because that’s just a bit too far for my partner’s commute. I’m near the ocean, near a major park, have access to a car but nowhere to park… I’m new, and kind of lonely. I’m also hesitating to tell anyone how I came to be here because the tech industry is not exactly welcome out here, although the housing situation is more the fault of the landlords and less the fault of the industries. Certain techbro disrespect for what makes this place function and the bad, unthinking kind of libertarianism are ruining a lot of what once made this place good.
I have some dear friends that are beyond thrilled that I’m out here. It’s heartbreaking – I will have to tell them this is not the place they remember, not even a little bit.
This all happened just as my own career started to pick up in Minneapolis. I’m pissed off that I have to be the loser in this deal, and I’m more pissed off that this situation, created by outside forces, established a situation where one of us has to be the loser. I’m getting a lot of loving support, but the “it’s so great you’re in San Francisco!” is a really unwelcome and kind of cold thing to say because of that. “I’m so glad you decided to again sacrifice your own career advancement! I’m so glad your husband’s happiness is so much more important than your own!”
Not that these people would know. I have a hard time getting it across that Minneapolis is a wonderful city, that it has everything – even some of what San Francisco has had forcibly taken from it in recent years. Mostly the people that are pushiest about San Francisco’s greatness are pretty dismissive and condescending about the city that’s been my true love since I was 25.
No, I’m not happy to be here. My choice was moral, not emotional, because my choices are always the moral ones. The people that expect me to put on a happy face, and clap my hands, and squeal, and act all excited…they’re assholes. I hope they get hemmorhoids, for expecting me to suppress my emotional truth.
So one way or the other, I need some guidance. I already made the commitment so I’m going to see it through.
So I started the Artist’s Way in 2008, mostly as a sort of me-too with Xiane and Cassidy and Angelique, two being women in the Etsy beauty products guild I was in. It’s one of those situations where life definitely has a purpose – the beauty stuff was a huge diversion from what I knew I was supposed to be doing. This 12 week series turned into exactly the kind of guidance I needed because it made me pause and look not just at my creative habits but at my entire life.
The Artist’s Way proved so helpful I moved on to Finding Water. Then on to Walking in This World. Then I just kept going…and only this year have I sort of caught up, with the Artist’s Way for Parents sitting on my Kindle despite my not having children.
The small steps, the daily work, the wisdom – for me, it helped. Because now I have my first published book to show for it:
At last, it’s out – and it would never be finished without my adherence to the Artist’s Way path. You can get your own copy at Amazon or any other bookstore your heart desires. You may want to ask your favorite indie bookseller to order a copy.
But… it’s out. I did it.
And after I post this I’m going to work on the next two books I have contracted.
The complicated thing about Mikey is that I did have sounding boards who kept warning me to get out. But they were other types of crazymakers, other types of blockers. They wanted this predator cleared so they could get a better crack at me.
Mikey did make it clear to me exactly how bad the women I called my “best friend” for years was actually for me – how bad her intents towards me almost always were. She liked the idea of Mikey and me together. She thought his calling me at 6 am when he knew I needed the sleep was romantic, not the abusive that it actually was. She figured I would eventually relent to his constant demands I take care of him.
There were others, of course, but most just sort of rolled their eyes. They didn’t recognize what was going on. One girl who had a thing for Mikey was relentlessly jealous of me – I can only imagine how bad he would have messed her life up if I hadn’t presented a distraction. While I have no liking for her as a human being, she is a human being and deserved to be treated as one. That’s not how this guy would have treated her.
My sudden onset illness, as frustrating as it can be, probably saved me from what would have been one of the most abusive relationship of my life and also ended a female friendship that I have only come to recognize as abusive. The constant hiving and allergies forced me to be reclusive.
It’s normal to have these patterns when you come from a dysfunctional home. You have to recognize dysfunction at home before the rest of the alphabet falls into place and you get the correct read on things. It took me awhile to see the source of it. Now I see all of it.
Now I have friends who would spot that kind of madness and tell me so right quick.
The creative desert is that uncharted territory. It’s the idea that just might work that people think are absurd. I’ve spent most of my life there, long enough to see rather a lot of vindication.
In high school, I went through a phase where I wrote letters to the editor all the time. Most of them were published – to the annoyance of adults who wanted that space for their own sounding board. In one of them, focused on the environment, I proposed that we mine landfills for recyclable material. At the time, landfill mining was unheard of.
My uncle read some of these missives of mine and had an absolute fucking fit. The landfill mining really sent him over the edge – it was just “absurd.” It’s far from the only thing he’s disagreed with me on where time has taken my side. Really, most of his attitude just had to do with me being female and his least favorite sibling’s least favorite daughter. I have to wonder, if one of his children had proposed it, if he would have taken offense to it the way he did with me.
Of course, now we have landfill mining.
Around 2003, the mass transit system in the Twin Cities was under heavy discussion. There was talk of building yet another highway that looped around the Cities. Thankfully people decided to move towards building mass transit inside the cities instead, helping to reduce car ownership and thus not just pollution but cost of living for city residents as they can. (It’s still necessary to own a car because of winter around here. However, using a car less is still pretty good.) I had posted on the Star Tribune suggesting they look into the old trolley system – there are still tracks and cars languishing in a corner of Dinkytown. Someone immediately posted a tirade about “pipe dreams” and “craziness” directed at me for daring repropose it.
Yet two years later the city had a feasibility study.
Last year, the mayoral election had installing a street car line down Central Ave. as one of its major platforms.
As I paraphrased before, new looks like crazy to dumb people. There are a lot of people who have tried to make me out to be completely nuts when not only am I quite sane, I’ve got a good sense for solutions.
True North is difficult for me because I made a conscious choice to operate without a navigation system when I was about 19. Before then, I was under a great deal of pressure to “plan my life.” My parents informed me I needed to pick a major, stick with it, stay at the same college if I could, should take no breaks from school ever … you get the idea.
My parents were setting me up to fail. They were using their map, one that went obsolete in 1969. When I pointed out that they had an obsolete map I got a lot of abuse and denial heaped on me. It was my mother’s “advice” that got me to pick the wrong school in the first place. She thought I’d “be able to study there, with few distractions.” Looking back I realize that she was insulting my work ethic and slut shaming me simultaneously. This conception of me was so outer-space and inaccurate that it took me years to process that that’s what she was doing.
Throwing away the navigation system completely was the only way to banish her influence.
My life – my happiness – improved almost immediately. The only true north my mother wanted me to have was her.
That’s not true north. That’s letting a narcissist ruin and run my life.
I knew for sure that leaving my family made my life better. It wasn’t total direction, but it was a start. Without the map, I still worked plenty hard. I still wound up on the dean’s list every semester. I still found a job even in economies with no jobs available.
But making that choice to abandon the map has had its problems. In graduate school I was hopelessly out of the loop on most of the reading. I had done undergrad in journalism. The MFA in writing was lit focused and most of my class had voraciously read all that stuff that just kind of bored me. I’ve missed so many opportunities as a writer I try not to think of them. I have a sneaking suspicion that if I’d just stuck out that Wal-mart job or applied for that program in Dubai my life would now have a grander, more interesting dimension to it.
The other part of this is that in writing, your True North shifts. I have already been published. I will have three books out by 2015. So what next? Those were my major, elusive goals.
Perhaps I’ll try writing fiction, going down the tougher road of getting that published. Mostly I want to gather up my wounds and get them healed and then look for direction from there.
All I know for sure is that I want to live a life I truly enjoy.