home again

Muddy. Like the murky shallows of Trinity Lake when the waters have drop-drop-dropped and sucked the shoreline muck into red clay pools swirled with yesterday’s bath water. Like the ash falling from nearby fires, engulfing an entire state in smoke and soot, a sickly yellow fog no place should ever see (let alone breathe). My thoughts were hazy.

Who am I? And why am I here?

I needed distance. Distance from the he-said-she-said. Distance from the rush-rush-rush of hurryupandwaiting. Distance from the clammy humid-cloud that enveloped me the moment I opened my front door.

In all of my years in Tennessee and abroad, I have never been so homesick.

I flew West on July 12 and cried when I landed at the San Francisco International Airport. I laughed when I heard a passenger complaining about California’s gun laws. I smiled when I shivered as I walked to my rental car. I was home.

Home with all of its myriads of problems is still home.

I spent three weeks visiting friends and family. I played with my 15-month-old nephew. I sorted through childhood memory boxes and read old letters and journal entries. I relived my twenties like a movie watched in reverse—this is who I am; this is why I’m here . . . Here not only in location, but in body, mind, and spirit. Here in loyalty. Here in love. I’m here I’m here I’m-here I’m-here-I’m-HERE.

It’s raining today in Knoxville, pouring buckets in a fashion California rarely sees (and sorely needs). I’m not home anymore. But this is home for now, for reasons I must cling to, no matter life’s sea.

After all, those reasons are ME.

 

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rainbow wars

rainbow..
No, this post isn’t about various parties’ reactions to Friday’s ruling, though maybe it should be. Rather . . .
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And why a rainbow?

It occurred to me yesterday that I had no idea why, or when, a rainbow had come to symbolize gay pride. Growing up, and being raised Protestant Christian, I was taught that rainbows were God’s sign to Noah that he would never again destroy the earth. The next time the heavens would open — literally, anyway — would be when He returned during the Second Coming.

That’s what my Bible teacher said, anyway.

Rainbows, then, were a symbol of hope. They were a promise. “You’ll never have to go through that again, Noah. And, hey you — yes you, Man — I will return.”

Somewhere along the line, though, rainbows got mixed in with leprechauns and Lucky Charms, and then (I did a little research), in the 1970s, a man named Harvey Milk came along. Harvey Milk was the nation’s first openly gay politician, and, in 1977, San Francisco elected him to its Board of Supervisors. To celebrate, Milk challenged an artist friend, Gilbert Baker, to come up with a flag to symbolize the gay community. “The only thing they have to look forward to is hope,” he said. “We have to give them hope.”

And thus was born the rainbow flag. *”Hot pink stood for sexuality, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for the sun, green for nature, turquoise for art, indigo for harmony and violet for spirit.”

And here I’d been thinking rainbows were about Bible stories and unicorns.

The story does make me curious, though. The gay community was looking for a symbol of hope. The rainbow is a symbol of hope. Makes sense, but . . . Why not come up with your own symbol? Something a little different, something new? Why borrow from something that — originally, anyway — has nothing to do with you?

Thoughts? Anyone?

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*Sources: A Brief History of the Rainbow Flag, milkfoundation.org
Image: Google
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bobbles

So, I wanted to finish this:

We are who we are
yet all we will be –
The people we touch,
the people we see.
The people we love,
the people who care,
The people ‘re strange,
the people who stare.

But, instead, I wrote this: Continue reading

little by little

jon

Chasing seagulls at nearby Bodega Bay

I’m supposed to be applying for a job right now. The open tab on my computer — “Children’s Fiction/Non-Fiction Writer” — is just to my right. I think I might actually have a shot at this one. I’ve been a teacher, and I love to write. The position is freelance, so . . . What more could they need?

Well, they’d need my application first.

I guess I forgot to mention that we moved. In all of the hustle and bustle of the holidays, and of packing and unpacking, and of apartment hunting and job searching, there was no time to blog. Continue reading

new year, new you . . . not!

magnifique-feu-dartifice-75-ans-golden-gate-L-XTa2wI

No, I did not take this picture. I was in bed last night by 10 p.m.!

As a teen, I remember counting down the seconds — ten! nine! eight! — to midnight on New Year’s Eve. I clung to each one, lingered over it, never wanted to let it go. Those seconds were portals into my future past, remnants of a beautiful year.

I was a nostalgic kid.

As an adult, little has changed, except . . . I’ve seen enough New Years to know that there isn’t some catastrophic, year-annihilating boom at the stroke of midnight on January 1st. 2014 isn’t a pile a rubble and ash to be sorted through and mourned. Rather, 2014 is what it is — the past — just as 6:30 this morning is now the past. Continue reading

nature has it

After writing about writer’s block the other day, I did my usual. I cleaned my apartment (surprise, surprise), did laundry, responded to emails, hung out with Jon, and decided to “man up” and get over my dislike for riding in the city. I took off on my bike (Jon wanted to go for a run instead) and rode thirty miles up the Berkeley hills — to here.
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hill2

View from Grizzly Peak

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On the backside of the mountain, I saw these guys:

cows

Looking at San Pablo Reservoir. California has happy cows!

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And then on my run down by the water last night, I saw this:

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The Bay

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Nature really does have it, folks.

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listen to your heart

trolley

What is yours telling you?

I’ve been starting blog posts in my head all week.

“Looking back, I should have stormed out of his office.”

“I got a job offer. I didn’t take it.”

“What does ‘meaning’ mean to you?”

“Does everything have to be a lesson?”

Instead of finishing them, though, I’ve been writing things like this:

“Hi!

My name is Jessica. I am contacting you regarding your ad for a one-bedroom apartment listed on Craigslist. Currently I live in the Sacramento area, but I need to move to the Bay Area very soon . . .”

I’ve then been driving to and from Berkeley (about two hours each way) every day looking at places and realizing that finding housing in the Bay Area is IMPOSSIBLE. Even if you have money (I don’t), the housing demand is so great that no sooner does a person put up an ad on Craigslist than twenty business professionals/students/etc. are banging down their door.

It is a cut-throat fight to find anything around here.

And so days have passed since my eventful “working interview,” which turned out to be a total sham, and which proved to me once again that any time someone is rushing you about something important, it’s time to RUN.

The company was a “direct marketing” firm for big names like the Oakland A’s, supposedly, but what they really were were door-to-door salesman who’d been fooled into thinking they were on a fast-track to management. While they were working tirelessly in a field they hated, another man was reaping their rewards and getting rich. I could go on, but when the CEO tried to make me feel bad for asking questions and indicated that money should be my biggest motivating factor, I knew something wasn’t right.

I left the interview exhausted and upset. I knew I needed a job, and needed it soon, but could I compromise who I am and what I believe in to do a job I hated, not to mention didn’t feel right about?

My answer came that night when I got home. I checked my email for the first time in more than 48 hours, and what did I find? A response from a job I’d applied for weeks earlier and given up on. I won’t say too much more about it right now, but I will say that my first interview went well. In fact, I’ve had three exciting interviews since the marketing interview disaster . . .

And so it really is true: We should always listen to our hearts.

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Image: Pinterest

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pushing through the pain

me4

I honestly had no idea I was grimacing this much . . .

There are things we do because we need to. There are things we do because we want to. And then there are the things we do because we have to.

A week and a half ago, I had to run a half marathon.

I am not a runner. As a kid, I hated running. I picked up running as a teenager when I discovered just how terrible I was at sports. I loved being active, and if I couldn’t make the varsity basketball team, well . . . After my rock-climbing accident, I discovered cycling. My right shoulder was severely damaged in the fall, and in the months that followed, my right arm couldn’t swing properly. Running was out of the question; cycling, on the other hand . . .

I got my first road bike for my 21st birthday and was hooked. I still ran often because, let’s face it, putting on a pair of running shoes is a lot simpler than pumping up bike tires and fixing flats, but, in reality, cycling had my heart. That’s why the furthest I’d ever run until October 20th was seven miles. That’s why the furthest run I’d done recently was six.

I’d always thought about running longer distances, of course. I had friends who’d run half and full marathons and reveled in their dedication. How could I not admire someone who purposely put their body through that much pounding? I wondered if I could do it, too—and knew deep down that I could—but I hesitated to sign myself up for the task. Why would I, unless I had to? Continue reading

marathon teaser

Grr . . . My post on my half marathon is almost finished. Almost. But, as I’ve been working on it for several hours now and have to work in the morning, I’ll have to leave you with this teaser for now.

This is me and a lovely Asian woman on the last stretch of the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco last Sunday. I’m giving it my all, and . . . Well, for a laugh, just compare the looks on our faces!
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I can do this!

She is having way too much fun! (I was hurting at this point . . .)

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Image: Mine and Nike’s

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what i got

sublimeIt’s mid-afternoon on Saturday. I’ve been home nearly a week and have only posted . . . once?! Big race is tomorrow (I’m running the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco), and all I keep thinking is, “What do I want to say?” There ought to be a lot after my tripand there isbut all I keep coming up with is:

Life is . . .

Which then launches into:

“Life is . . . too short, so love the one you’ve got,
‘Cause you might get run over, or you might get shot . . .
Take a small example, take a tip from me:
Take all of your money, give it all to charity . . .
Lovin’, is what I got, I said remember that.
Lovin’, is what I got . . . I got, I got, I got.”

It’s the lyrics to a popular song by Sublime that came out when I was in grade school. It’s a song that’s a little bit timelessas in, it could have come out yesterday, the melody and beat are still so fresh in my mind. Not all of the lyrics are good, of course. But I find it interesting that even mainstream artists who talk about smoking pot and getting high keep coming back to the idea that life is short and love is all we’ve got . . . Continue reading

see you . . . soon!

Dear All,

I miss you. What? How is that possible? I don’t know, but it’s true.

Funny that my little blog has become something of my home. I share my thoughts here, and you respond. You tell me that I’m not crazy. For that, I owe you everything.

A few weeks ago I proposed a regular Friday section focusing on travel. I should have known better. I can’t even get myself to bed on time let alone post a weekly section on time. I’m sorry. I do plan to write at least once a week about travel, though. I just can’t swear that it will pop up in your “Reader” section at a specific time.

This Friday (yesterday) I took a day trip to San Francisco. The weather was perfect, and I got to drive over the new Bay Bridge, a white, sleek monument to modernity that stands in stark contrast to the dark metal contraption — the old bridge — beside it. I broke the law and took a few pics for your benefit while driving. ;)

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photo 1

The new bridge to the left and the old on the right.

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seeing double (or, the airport)

sfoThe airport,
(oh, curs-ed place),
where dreams forgot
are woken—
where all’s amiss,
remembered bliss,
and I, its long lost token . . .

The airport
(oh, bless-ed place),
where winging worlds
are lighted—
where dreams unfold,
of tales yet told;
and lovers, reunited.

Continue reading

dreamers

IMG_0215ed

My view from across the street.

They were surrounded. From afar, I couldn’t tell what all of the hullabaloo was about. I moved closer and stopped on the sidewalk.

Across the street, a man wearing a red jumpsuit was teetering on the top of a ten-foot ladder. The ladder was free-standing. With incredible strength and skill, the man was balancing on the ladder while his team member held a unicycle—also ten feet tall—upright in front of him.

This wasn’t your usual street performance. I walked across the street.

The men had on headsets and were bantering back and forth, joking with the audience. “Don’t try this at home, folks,” said the man on the ground. “Try i’ at school—then you can sue your teachers if you ge’ hurt,” said the man in red. He had a thick British accent. The audience laughed and gasped as he began “walking” the ladder forward—arms pumping at his sides as though he were running—and moved from the ladder to the unicycle, torso falling forward, then backward, trying to find his balance on the seat. Continue reading

heartless, or . . . ?

homeless-guy-sign-paypal-donation2I was being compulsive. Again. I’ve told you I’m a clean freak, right? Well, I am, and today it was about my car. I’d just gotten it washed after my trip to San Francisco (more on that later), and now, next door at Chevron, I was wiping dirt off of the engine under the hood.*

As I was working, I suddenly became aware of a car right behind me.

“Excuse me. Miss?”

I turned around to see a large Hispanic man leaning out of an old tan Buick. He was wearing a long-sleeved shirt despite the warm weather and a thick black mustache over pale lips. A dark-haired woman sat in the passenger seat beside him. Continue reading

the end of the world as we know it

Why is it that mankind is obsessed with its own destruction?

thor-2-dark-world-posterNo, no. I’m not talking about drugs and alcohol; not talking about cigarettes or fatty foods, either. I’m not even talking about adrenaline. I’m talking about entertainment.

I never watch T.V. and almost never watch movies. During the three years I was in Asia, I stepped into a movie theater all of about twice. Things haven’t changed much since I moved home. Despite the fact that I live just across the street from a theater, I almost never go. Yes, yes, I know. There are a lot of great films out there. On the whole, though, well . . . Let’s just say I’d rather be reading or writing or riding my bike.

This past Sunday, however, I made an exception. My brother invited me to see Iron Man 3. I hadn’t seen my brother or his girlfriend in weeks, so, despite the fact that Iron Man 3 isn’t really my kind of movie (though I do love Robert Downey, Jr.), I decided to go. Continue reading