InSanity~Normalize, Don't Stigmatize Mentall Illness.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Woman on the Verge of Paradise: to Profit in Paradise and Mojo in Chico, Here I Go!

                                                                                         Me at my Goodbye Party, 2/26/11

Sign reads "May you find Paradise to be all its name implies"

Thanks for joining me on the verge of Paradise, as a new chapter of my life unfolds. If you're new to Life by Chocolate, or just madly trying to catch up with your blog reading (Can we ever truly catch up?), this non-fictional autobiographical story begins here.


It really is all about boxes: thinking outside of them, packing them, and living amongst them. Well, for now. I depart in about 12 hours. In the meantime, I'm living with multiple boxes. They contain my essentials and semi-essentials, all non-toxic. Tomorrow morning, the movers will load said boxes onto their truck, and I'll trail them for the 170 mile trek to California's true North.

After that, it'll still be about boxes for a while.

Otherwise, if life is anything like my samplings of Paradise and Chico thus far, I won't be bored. My time there has already offered a slew of intriguing oddities: angry expressions about draconian measures, conversation regarding the virtues of cemetery sex, a mafia style meeting to assess my suitability as a prospective renter, a phlebotomist who covers her windows in plastic wrap for insulation, and more.

In the meantime, I got away from the boxes last night for one last Bay Area hoorah, my goodbye party at Speisekammer - Alameda's fine German eatery. For a while, I thought it would just be me at a formal line of tables spanning the restaurant's back room and ready to seat thirty guests. Yep, thirty empty chairs and just me at 6:30pm (start time), then 6:35pm, then 6:40pm. I was feeling pretty lonely until Anthony - the waiter- sat by me and said, "Sweetie, if they don't show up, I'll treat you to dinner." It was nice to have a back-up date. Um, no, no. I needed to remind myself what this was about. I want this party, right? Of course. I planned it for myself, after all. That was awfully sweet of him, though, and it was my last Saturday night in the Bay Area. Hm...

Good thing they arrived to avert my internal conflict, and they arrived in droves. Soon, I felt like the excited bride unable to fully give everyone their due time. It was a wonderful way to cap my nearly two decades in the Bay Area. Guests included my little friends like Jonah. I forgot that Jonah hates kisses. After I planted one on his cheek, he was very conspicuously - with the clear intention of inconspicuousness - madly rubbing my germs off  his cheek for the next thirty minutes. Little Eli was parading around, working the crowds like the toddler charmer he is, a wide smile and his left pant leg rolled up to his knee. Ben told me, "Next time I see you, I'll be 5. Now, I'm 4." "Little Gabe is all round," mommy Jenny said. "There's nothing not round about him." I looked at Gabe's rounded half-smile gracing his round face, which affirmed that mothers know best.

Friends from the Jewish singles scene, salsa dancing, and various work settings (I've had so many) helped me celebrate. My hairdresser, who did my wedding-do and also styled my hair before this party, joined us. I was gifted with a beautiful handmade necklace and many forms of chocolate. [I "needed" to sample much of it today, but I haven't yet needed to break into my bar designated "In Case Of Emergency."]

We toasted to my moving to Profit in Paradise and Mojo in Chico. That is, I'll be working for Nora Profit in Paradise, while living with Steven and Mojo in Chico. Steven tells me that Mojo is a sweetheart, a black tabby who doesn't spray. I'm already in love with Mojo, because: (1) he's named Mojo and (2) he doesn't spray.

I didn't want to bore you with details, but I don't want to end this post. That will mean saying "goodbye" to you for now. I need to pack my computer. The last of the big boxes are calling for my attention. I suppose I can't put it off any longer.

But wait, there's one more thing. As I was having the discourse with myself about leaving the Bay Area (see last blog post), I also told me, "You can't leave your blog community." Then, I said to me, "Okay now you are being way too silly" - with a gentle dope-slap to the forehead. "They're a virtual community. Hello! That means, they live all over. You'll actually be closer to your Canadian blog friends like Marnie and Kal, and your Northern blog buddies like IT and Pearl. Yeah, you'll be a little further away from some others, but they will stick around. (Fingers crossed.) In fact, they'll come along for the journey." And so I hope you will. Your support means so much.

Please forgive any delay or decrease in my blog activity. It will take a bit of time for me to get my desktop re-connected. I'll also start full-time employment on Tuesday. Still, you and blogging are a top priority. I'll see you from the true North. ...Now, to the boxes. Next, to Profit in Paradise and Mojo in Chico, here I go!

The Alternative Temptation Matrix, A Saturday Centus

Jenny Matlock

The Saturday Centus challenges us to write a piece within 100 words, based on a prompt. I encourage you to jump aboard. Just click on the graphic above. It's great practice, and I've met wonderful peers this way. Plus, Jenny's our favorite teacher. I'm continuing the sci-fi series, with apologies. This is a sequel to my last centus right here. The prompt is bolded, with a minor change from "began" to "begins." Enjoy.

Also, please forgive my reduced blog activity for a bit. I'm moving tomorrow morn and I'll have to get my desktop re-connected in my new home. Thank you! xo

"You stimulate the Milky Way," Natashialovarita continues, moonwalking across the Sirius Chamber floor.

Spock presses his jaw back into socket. "Abort!" He shouts.

Natashialovarita stops. Meekly, she steps back into her Lieutenant-Colonel-Nurse Practitioner-Phlebotomist-Maid-Assistant Janitor uniform.

"I simply intended to repay you for the other night, Spock."

"Unnecessary and rather repulsive," he declares, turning towards the Sirius Emergency Chamber Exit.

"Wait! Compensation begins." She saunters towards him and manipulates the Alternative Temptation Matrix (i.e., the ATM) to his left. The ATM machine begins dispensing twenties and doesn't stop.

Spock scurries to collect all of the bills, shoving them into his Orion belt.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Woman on the Verge of Paradise: Angst, Zen and Challah

Sign reads: "May you find Paradise to be all its name implies"

I’ve spent the last several weeks sliding between phases of angst and zen, with tearful interludes. As I prepare to leave the Bay Area in three mornings from now, feelings are charged. Don’t get me wrong. I’m truly grateful and plan to give Paradise the best of me. Still, I’m sad.

While I sat in synagogue during Shabbat services last week, a waterfall of tears distracted me from prayer. That’s okay. I didn’t go there to pray. I went for the challah.[1]  And for one last visit to say “goodbye”: a literal "goodbye” to the Rabbi and congregants and a quiet, personal “goodbye” for me. (And then, some more challah.)

Glancing up, I saw myself with the groom. We married on that bimah[2] 3-1/2 years earlier. I wiped the first round of tears to notice how ecstatic I was that day. My smile said “I finally did it, people! I found my happily ever after and, damnit, I deserve it!“ I was so right and so wrong.

On our wedding day, the Rabbi compared me to Alice’s Cheshire Cat, with a smile that crossed my face throughout our courtship. “She hasn’t stopped smiling since they met. I’d see them here at services and wish they paid a little more attention to the service than to each other,“ he joked, proceeding to bless our union.

Now, as I leave the Bay Area, I carry a deep sadness for the fallen love and marriage. Though it ended years ago, this impending move is somehow marking the divorce a sharp reality. Feelings of loss are prominently weighing on me.

Fortunately, loss and gain are on the same spectrum. So, while it’s a tough departure, it’s a good one. I get to start over in a field I only dreamt about entering. I’m smiling again. In fact, I feel as though I’ve just begun to find my happily ever after.

Last month, Nora asked about my decision to leave the Bay Area. I had initially told her I wouldn’t relocate. While walking back to the lodge after our first conversation, as I explained to Nora, I had a little talk with myself. It went like this:

“You’re being silly,” I said to me. “You CAN leave. Nobody’s keeping you there.”

“But you’ll never meet a man if you leave the Bay Area,” I retorted to me.

“Look, me,” I then told me, ”What are you going to do? Stay there in celibacy and turn down a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity because of some man who you haven’t already met or dated after nearly 20 years in the Bay Area but who you’ll suddenly meet and fall in love with, and life will be outrageously glorious, so glorious that it’s worth bypassing this chance to work for Nora Profit in Paradise? Don’t you think that’s stupid?”

“Yes, me, you’re right.” I said to me. “You’re being stupid and so am I. Nothing personal.”

After relaying this discourse to Nora, she summarized perfectly: “It’s about thinking outside of the box.”
1 Challah = braided bread traditionally eaten by Jews on Shabbat and other holidays. P.S. The soft inside is most yummy.

2 Bimah = the elevated area or platform in a Jewish synagogue.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

On Why I Choose Celibacy, Reasons # 72-76: Platonic Tantra

Alas, as I come to the end of my days in the San Francisco Bay Area, I proudly uphold my decision to maintain celibacy. Below are reasons #72-76, taken directly from current on-line dating ads, along with my comments (in bold italics). Enjoy.
REASON #72: Platonic friend communications are ok. NOTE: You should understand and be accepting of the precepts of Tantra as part of a physical/spiritual relationship. You mean, within a platonic friendship? And I can stay celibate? NOTE: Oh yes, babe. I’m intrigued, in a purely physical/spiritual way.

REASON #73: Lets get hopped up and make some bad decisions lol. Sorry, dude. I’m more tempted by some celibate tantra action. Cheers to your (getting a) sense of humor, though.

REASON #74: Thinking of moving to the pole to be closer to my toy making work. Are you trying to say you’re a fat lonely bearded man in red fur? Cuz that’s not appealing.
1. Live alone.
2. REALLY single. Tell me then, what’s your stance on platonic tantra?
3. No kids. (one is ok) I just don't want to have no time for anything but kids that i didn't help create. That’s a lot of negativity and confusion around the kid thing. I might suggest you abstain from platonic tantra. (Once is ok)
4. I work out 5 days a week & I ride bikes a lot.
5. I can cook.
6. I give a good massage & I'm entertaining.
7. BA-Economics BBA-Accounting Doctorate--Law Certified A+ Computer tech. Alternative Dispute Resolution Certificate. (There's more, but you should get the idea--professional student)
8. Sucessful Business Owner/Investor Buy another consonant, buddy. It’ll increase your sucess.
9. Inventor with Patented Inventions
10.Published Writer. Why am I not surprised?
11.Christian--YOU MUST BE SPIRITUALLY AWARE, Believe in God or Goddess, and not foam at the mouth at the mention of the name "Jesus"
12. Eccentric. Why am I not surprised?
13. Musician/Entertainer--Yes I've appeared on national TV. Yeah, well, so has Pee Wee Hermin.
14. Contrary to my external persona--i am an introvert. What does your internal persona have to say about that?

REASON #75: I am currently looking into Ti-chi, Looking into it for the letter “a” – are ya? Me too, hon. Me too.

REASON #76: Just Checking out the site. I Need about four Sentences. That is so crazy. Here is Four. This is out of control for a free site. Keep reading this. Wow I love to write on this site,Anything I am game love the water. I like Morotorcycles. Wakeboarding. Movies Just Checking out the site. I Need about four Sentences. That is so crazy. Here is Four. This is out of control for a free site. Keep reading this. Wow I love to write on this site Wow, dude. If you’re going to keep repeating yourself, make it marginally interesting. HINT: Try the platonic tantra angle.

Monday, February 21, 2011

On Why I Choose Celibacy, Reason #71: The Bay Bridge Boycotter

I’ve always liked chopped liver, except when I’m it. I’m usually it, especially in the Jewish singles scene and any other scene. Once, I wasn’t. For a moment.

The setting was an infamous Young Adult First Friday potluck Shabbat at some young Jew’s upscale home in San Francisco. An East Bay-er, I was used to crossing the bridge to join the action. Shira and I had agreed to meet there. I hated entering those cold scenes and was relieved to find her in the crowd. Better yet, she was schmoozing with a short, handsome man with dark, Mediterranean features.

“This is Ilan,” Shira announced. I tried not to gawk, and we chatted for a while. My hopes soared but then crashed when the two of them made plans for coffee. Chopped liver status resumed.

A week later, Shira called.

“Yeah, you went out with him? How’d it go? Will you see him again?”

“No Robyn. All he talked about was you.” That’s unfamiliar, I thought, blushing.

“He’s just not sure about dating someone across the bridge, but I talked him into it.”

Strange. The bridge is 4.5 miles long. It was 1999, when traffic wasn’t yet ugly and the toll was a mere $3. “Well, I can see how that might be a problem, I mean, if, say, we were married.”

It seemed he came to his senses when he emailed to ask me out a few days later, specifying San Francisco as the date’s locale. Ignoring this detail, I excitedly agreed. Mediterranean features and all.

The date was good, mostly. He held my hand during the movie, and I don’t remember what movie it was. The dinner discourse was decent, and I don’t remember what we ate. The after-dinner activity on his couch was marginally indecent until it was time for him to grab the remote. See, he needed to watch Melrose Place. Mind you, Heather Locklear’s pretty hot. Between her and me, though, he had a much better chance with me – if you know what I mean. As I put the last scraps of my ego into my purse, I pulled out my car keys.

Still, I’d give him another chance. Mediterranean features and all. A few days later, I went to a program at Temple Emanuel, walking distance from his apartment. We met up for dinner, as planned. When the bill came, he pulled an “Oh, I don’t have my credit card on me,” as clearly planned (by him). I didn’t know men play that game too. I paid with a smile and increased irritation. Some after-dinner kissing broke me down, and I was elated when Ilan agreed to drive across the bridge the following Sunday for our next date.

The big day came. I got up extra early and called him at 9am. No answer. I emailed and called and called and emailed every half hour or so (i.e., every 2 minutes) for the next two hours, to no avail. Shortly after 11am, he finally called.

“What’s going on? I’ve been trying to reach you all morning!”

“Oh, I, I was out taking a walk.”

“Well, what’s the plan? Are you still coming over?”

“Um, well, uh, I don’t know.”

I’m fuming at this point. “What are you talking about? I’ve been looking forward to this, put off other plans, was trying to reach you for hours. You agreed to come over today. I crossed the bridge the last two times. I’m only 5 miles away!”

“I, I don’t think I can. Um, Dave’s coming by this evening.”

“Yeah, at what time?”

“Uh, oh, I don’t know, 7 o'clock.”

“What the hell?! Eight hours isn’t enough time to see me? What the *bleep* is wrong with you?”

“Uh, I, uh, this isn’t working.”

Thus, with parallel receiver clicking, I resumed chopped liver status.

Two years later, I saw Ilan at another Shabbat dinner in San Francisco. As I conspicuously chomped on chopped liver in his presence, he told me he was moving to Israel. (That’s what young Jews do when they’ve exhausted the local dating scene.) Since we were back on friendly terms, I didn’t have the heart to tell him that Israel is more than 5 miles away. I’m guessing he learned that during the 23-hour flight. I’m also guessing that he flew out of the San Francisco airport to avoid crossing the Bay Bridge.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Love, Siriusly: Saturday Centus

Jenny Matlock

The Saturday Centus challenges us to write a piece within 100 words, based on a prompt. I encourage you to jump aboard. Just click on the graphic above. It's great practice, and I've met wonderful peers this way. Plus, Jenny's our favorite teacher. She's been on a roll with zany prompts, however. I thus take no responsibility for the following piece, even though I wrote it. It's the sequel to my last sci-fi centus right here. The prompt is bolded. Enjoy; don't take it siriusly. Thanks. xo

Love, Siriusly

"That's a gastrointestinal cellestrial charge," Spock. "Presumably, she - pause, elbow nudge - reimbursed you later. Yes?"

"No opportunity. I beamed out."

Natashialovarita approaches the bar, tentatively. "Spock, will you permit discourse?"


They depart to the Sirius Chamber.

"A-About the oth-other night," she stutters, while abruptly releasing the "Seduction" lever. Her Lieutenant-Colonel-Nurse Practitioner-Phlebotomist-Maid-Assistant Janitor uniform falls off, revealing a Galactica-string and cosmological cellulitic asteroids.

"I'd catch a grenade for ya!..." She performs, in Cyrusly inappropriate fashion.

"...Do a poltergeist dance around the Big Dipper!"

Our camera zooms in on Spock, whose jaw drops.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Woman on the Verge of Paradise: Project Toxic Waste Disposal

Sign reads: "May you find Paradise to be all its name implies."

Thanks for joining me on the verge of Paradise, as a new chapter of my life unfolds. If you're new to Life by Chocolate, or just madly trying to catch up with your blog reading (Can we ever truly catch up?), this non-fictional autobiographical story begins here.
With just 10 days left in the San Francisco Bay Area, you’d think I’d be scurrying to Ghiradelli’s Chocolate Factory for one more tour (which includes a free sample) or, at least, treating myself to a chocolaty gelato at the Tutti Frutti on Central Avenue. Actually, I did that one yesterday. And it was good. Really good.

This morning, though, I set forth on an altogether different mission: dispose of toxic waste. See, I try to be a do-gooder, when it’s not too inconvenient. Did you know that it’s illegal to dump certain paints and cleaning products into the garbage bin – specifically, products reading “Caution: This may kill you”? Well, I had a few such items lying around, so I tossed them into a grocery bag and headed for the magical land of Alameda County's Household Hazardous Waste Facility.

So it was that I navigated the unforgiving rains, destined for disposal. It became a symbolic project of sorts; I’d dump the smelly and fatalistic stuff, before making my glorious move to Paradise. Yeah, not so easy. It wasn’t long before I was completely lost, driving through deep puddles of rain and amongst frighteningly monstrous trucks. At one memorable point, I made a wrong turn to face these monsters head-on. Oops. They were generous to let me live, so I went about continuing to drive in circular tenacity.

Twenty-five minutes into these shenanigans, I spied the Regional Technical Information Center. Certainly, such a knowledgeable establishment would advance my mission. It felt like kismet pulling up alongside a “Danger, High Voltage” sign, so I dripped in for help.

“Excuse me, I’m looking for the Toxic Waste Drop-Off Site.”

“Well, nobody’s been around here for years looking for that place,” the kind man advised. “You’re on the wrong part of 7th Street. You want East 7th Street. This is just 7th.”

“Oh, they didn't specify that on the website,” I said with the certainty of a toddler who’s not ready for bed. "Thank you so much.”

Sliding back onto my carseat, my eyes caught the word “East.” Yep, there it was, in legible letters and black ink. I had thoughtfully placed the paper on the passenger’s seat before starting the car. As I wiped off the drippings of yolk from my chin, I headed back towards East 7th Street.

An hour into the journey, I was practically back home and gazing at a big sign that I’d driven by every day for many years: “Alameda County Household Hazardous Waste Facility.”

It was a drive-thru process, but without curly fries. I pulled in, opened the passenger seat window, and a man took my bag with gratitude. One guy stared me down rather conspicuously, as if I hadn’t cleared all the yolk from my chin. He was dark and attractive, so I thought to give him a wink with my phone number. No, don’t do it. Remember your more noble cause: Rid self of waste. The voice inside kept me strong, so I sped off.

In retrospect, I learned a few things:

  • Ignoring big signs does not serve me well.
  • Failure to attend to directions, even and especially my own, will keep me going in circles and may kill me.
  • The act of relinquishing toxicity is much easier and more pleasant than carrying it around.
  • If a man eyes me down at the Alameda County Household Hazardous Waste Facility, even if he’s dark and attractive, I should stay strong. (Right? But he did have a nice mustache.) No, no. I mean, yes, make a clean break and move on. That’s the whole point. (Okay.)
I think I’m ready for Paradise. I think.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

To All The Boys I've Loved Before, Dedicated to the Men of San Francisco's Jewish Singles Scene

As I prepare to leave the San Francisco Bay Area, I’m reminded of countless warm and loving interactions – none of which occurred in the Jewish singles scene. It’s a scene not for the faint of heart. It’s a scene wherein massive amounts of hopeful singles in their 20's and 30's, and 12 men over 45, convene in a display of concern for some aspect of Judaism (e.g., “Oh yeah, I like - um - what are these called? Bay-gulls?”). Espressos and blackberries in hand, they scan the crowds for the one - the one they’re somewhat sure they haven’t already met on He/she must: (a) look hot, (b) be new in town, (c) live within 10 miles, and (d) hate country music.

I survived nearly twenty years of this drudgery, and I like country music. The results of my efforts were a few dates and some brief lukewarm flames. There was a 13-month marriage followed by 13 months of divorce proceedings. Then, it was back to seeing the same men on that were there 19 years earlier. It wasn't hard to recognize them, given their ads and photos were unchanged.

I’m left feeling generally annoyed. And so, this song goes out to the men of the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish singles scene. Offense is not intended for those I don't intend to offend. I love Judaism and my people. I just did not love the Jewish singles scene.

(happy Jewish couple from Google images)

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

Sung to the tune (sort of) of To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before by Willie Nelson

To all the boys I’ve loved before –

All two of them, there were no more.

Had you not done did me wrong,

We wouldn’t have this song

To all the boys I’ve loved before.


To all the boys who wouldn’t pay

Calm down, my dear. Hear what I say:

One buck for my coke

Would not have left you broke

To all the boys who wouldn’t pay.


To all the boys chasing 20 year olds

I sense it’s time that you were told

Although you think you’re nifty,

They don’t like ‘em over 50

To all the boys chasing 20 year olds


To all the boys still living at home.

Cut the cord, babe. It’s time to roam.

It really ain’t appealing,

You and mama share a ceiling.

To all the boys still living at home.


To all the boys who think they’re funny.

Honey, you’re not. Not at all.

To all the boys who think they’re funny.

~~That is all. Thank you.~~

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Chocolate Day!

Dear Valentine’s Day,

How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways:

1) With destructive fury to the depths of my soul

2) With insane rage encapsulating my wondrous heart

3) With morbid despair enlivening my every blood vessel

4) Always and forever ad nauseam

5) With more chocolate than on any other day of the year, the kind that doesn’t come in a heart shaped container, the kind that is not to be shared with anyone else but is solely for me just because, even though you think I’m unworthy of life since I’m single and you only care about those lovey-doveys whose existence is nullified without each other, those two half-a-persons engaged in a gropefest at the park right now; quit staring at my chocolate, you can’t have any; the kind that says “Damn you for rubbing it in my face that I’m single.” Oh yeah? Well, I can sleep peacefully without someone snoring in my ear. Yeah, and I don’t have to respond to asinine conversation or jokes that induce vomit, and I have no one but myself to fight with so I always win an argument, usually; and nobody but me ignores what I have to say, and I don’t have to worry about anyone else eating my chocolate because it’s mine, all mine. Got it, buster? You can’t have any. Neener neener.

6) Enough to change your name.

Go away now. I hate you, you know.

PS I heard you’re a saint. Are you single?

With embattled embitterment ad nauseam and a flirtatious wink whilst subtly lowering my neckline to expose a teaser of cleavage,



Saturday, February 12, 2011

Hallbark Greeting Card, a Saturday Centus

Our beloved Saturday Centus teacher, Jenny Matlock, has asked that we use this romantic image as inspiration for a Hallmark-ish Valentine greeting. The heartfelt message must not exceed 50 words.

I hope my contribution brings Hallmark down once and for all, in favor of a new line of Hallbark cards. You know, for dogs. Enjoy. Maybe. If not, who created this post? Darn hackers!

A Hallbark Creation

I’m a sad lowly mutt from Pom Beaitch

With a fetish for dressing in kitsch

They say “Dawg, your singing is pitch!”

Yo, I ain’t no looker, and I ain’t rich

But I really want you for my


Friday, February 11, 2011

Celebrating the Jewish Grandma

Everyone, regardless of faith, should have a Jewish Grandma or two. They're good for feeding you tasty comfort foods when you're most in need, reminding you to put your jacket on else you'll catch pneumonia (even in 100 degree weather), and cherishing you to no end.

I had two "bubbies"/"bobbis." Though long since gone, I'm grateful for the memories and the only Valentine's card I've kept for over 30 years.

I don't have dates on these, but the card and the photo of  me and my Bobbi Rose are both from the 1970's.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Woman on the Verge of Paradise: Surrealism and Cemetery Sex

Sign reads: "May you find Paradise to be all its name implies."

Thanks for joining me on the verge of Paradise, as a new chapter of my life unfolds. If you're new to Life by Chocolate, or just madly trying to catch up with your blog reading (Can we ever truly catch up?), this non-fictional autobiographical story begins here.
It’s a surreal time. I’m not referencing an “I-can’t-deal-with-this,-so-I’m-going-to-eat-chocolate-and-sleep-it-off” surreal. No, it’s actually a happy “I-can’t-believe-this,-so-I’m-going-to-eat-chocolate-and-then-take-a-nap,-because-I-can” surreal.

With both housing and the job secured up North, I shall awake to bid farewell to the San Francisco Bay in twenty days. I’ll miss its bold beauty and flavorful culture: the taquerias every few feet in San Francisco’s mission district, the bridges spanning broad stretches of shimmering water, the diverse communities that have offered my heart and brain entry into more tranquil enlightenment. I’ll miss having 12,000 choices for everything – be it a yoga class, movie venue, ice cream parlor, or underwater co-ed rollerblading midget sumo wrestling match. You can find it all here.

In spite of my sadness, and my bewilderment over that midget wrestling thing I just wrote, I feel like I won the lottery at precisely the right moment. The past 3.5 years shook me with two ugly job lay-offs and marital explosion – just one month after celebrating our first anniversary. As I was grasping for fresh air, I met Writer Nora Profit. She offered entrance into the writing world and a chance to start anew, to move to Profit in Paradise. Who could turn that down?

It’s not a writing job per se. I wasn’t hired for my writing. I’ll be on the computer a lot. But I wasn’t hired for my computer skills either. Lord, and everybody else, knows that. Why was I hired? Let’s just move on, have some chocolate and take a nap, because we can. I consider myself very, very lucky.

Even my discourse at the Writing Loft has matched the surrealism of this time. You remember Mimi, right? She greeted me with a hug when I first arrived at the Loft during last month’s visit. Mimi’s a fast and furious talker who dresses conservatively but dons bright pink lipstick. This shouting shade of pink is beginning to make sense. Unlike most talkers, Mimi’s babble fascinates. I hang onto her every word.

Here’s a snippet of dialogue from that first visit. Nora, Mimi, and I were sitting in the cozy entrance room at the Loft, winding down after a full day's work.

Nora (to me): I haven’t seen your writing yet.

Me: Oh, it’s just silly humorous stuff like my series “On Why I Choose Celibacy.” I post men’s on-line dating ads and embellish with my own comments. I just gave an award to a guy I call “Mr. Cemetery.” He’s looking for mutual cemetery in a relationship.

Nora (appearing confused): You mean someone to share a cemetery plot with?

Me: I think he means "chemistry." He wrote, “If the cemetery’s good, everything else can fail.”

Nora and I burst into laughter.

Mimi (interrupting the guffaws): Well, I've gotta say that sexual chemistry in the cemetery can be really good.

Nora and I gasp quietly and then chuckle, with a lot less zest - likely due to shock.

Mimi: Well, he was my husband.

Nora and share an almost-forced giggle, eyes glazed over.

Mimi: And it was during the winter!

Nora and I sit in silence. Mimi clearly wants to elaborate but stops short. The conversation died with this revelation about sex in the cemetery. I can’t help but revere Mimi and anticipate much more lofty discourse after I move. It’s keeping me motivated to hurry and pack my things. Continued surrealism clearly awaits.

Monday, February 7, 2011

California Dreamin' ~ A Repost

This piece describes my move from Los Angeles to Oakland back in 1992. A lifetime of experiences and nearly 20 years later, I'm embarking on new adventures. In fact, I'll make this next trek further north on the same date (2/28) as my original posting of California Dreamin' in 2010.

Dedicated to the Mamas and the Papas, and to California dreamers everywhere

All the leaves are brown,

“So you’re going to Bizerkeley?” Jim goaded, when I made my big announcement. My spinning brain did not attend to his play on words. “Yes, you’ll have to come visit me,” I responded. I knew it would never happen but wanted to give him one more chance. Jim and I had worked together over the past year. He had asked me on a date a week earlier, but then changed his mind in favor of a concert with some friends. Thus, another disappointing episode capped my life experiences in L.A. It was alright. I wanted no ties whatsoever as I made my big escape. Besides, there were bound to be some straight men in the Bay Area, if only of the “woo woo” variety. That would work just fine. I wouldn’t be so likely to get dumped for an AC/DC concert. See ya, Jim. Wouldn’t want to be ya. You know, stuck in LA, and all. Sucka!

And the sky is grey.

I went for a walk on a winter’s day.

It’d been one hell of a quarter of a century thus far. With two family members buried side by side in Hillside’s grassy Mount of Olives, and a recent bout of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome that limited my activity level for months, I was more than ready. Clenching my acceptance letter from the UC Regents, I looked towards a new life in the San Francisco Bay Area.

I’d be safe and warm -

“You’ll freeze your ass off up there!” they warned. So I shopped for a hundred, give or take 98, winter garments. As I threw some of my raggedy old sweaters into the suitcase, I paused. “Bizerkeley?” What am I getting myself into?

You know, I got down on my knees (got down on my knees)

And I pretend to pray (I pretend to pray)

But what could go wrong? I was escaping the frenzy of a life I was never suited for: the culture of models with their fake tans and blindingly bleached hair; everyone trying to get ahead of everyone else – whether that be in line at Starbuck’s on Rodeo Drive or the women's bathroom at Wendy’s on Venice Beach.

Oh, the preacher likes the cold (preacher likes the cold)

He knows I'm gonna stay (knows I'm gonna stay)

It’s a known fact that people flip each other off fighting for the closest parking space at Bally’s Health Spa in Santa Monica. Hello, all you gorgeous and fit people! Do you not see the irony in this? Do you need your valet to transport you past a few choice parking spots in order to get your workout in?

Oh, California dreamin' (California dreamin')

LA driving is worthy of it's own special mention. The freeways, let me tell you. First, it is necessary to say “the” before any name of a freeway in LA. Thus, there’s the 101, the 405, and too many more. I cannot let go of the damn the before giving directions nowadays. See, you can take the girl out of LA. But you can’t take the LA driving experience out of her. I only wish.

Oh, California dreamin' (California dreamin')

On such a winter's day (California dreamin')

The last time I drove down for Thanksgiving, I made it to the San Fernando Valley in 4 hours. Then, I was virtually stopped for the last 15 miles. Two hours later, I figured I’d be making it on time for pumpkin pie. (Well, you know that’s all I drove down for any way. But that’s not the point here.) My gracious sister-in-law had prepared a scrumptious meal and taught the Engels the courtesy of waiting for dinner guests to arrive (a new concept, especially when the dinner guest was me).

If I didn't tell her (if I didn't tell her) I could leave today (I could leave today)

Back to my escape. I finally landed at my destination, eyeing Oakland’s Lake Merritt. It was a proud moment, so I pulled over to take it all in. What a glorious sight! Shimmering diamond specks dotted an expansive, green lake that oozed serenity. The skyline was less intrusive than any I had ever seen. A few drug stores, banks, and semi-high rise buildings guarded the lake. All was quiet and peaceful. Despite what I’d heard about Oakland, I just knew the church at the intersect across the way would assure my safety.

I’d be safe and warm -

Oh, California dreamin' (California dreamin')

Home alas! I made it! Life began again in that moment. Something told me not to look down, though. Perhaps it was my inner cynic lambasting my ecstasy with a bit of reality. I somehow knew that if I peered intently into the water, I might see a dead body. Or two. Or three. So I just kept looking directly ahead, and up.

All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey.

On such a winter's day (California dreamin')

On such a winter's day (California dreamin')

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Unwelcomed Growth, Saturday Centus

Jenny Matlock

The Saturday Centus challenges us to write a piece within 100 words, based on a prompt. I encourage you to jump aboard. Just click on the graphic above. It's great practice, and I've met wonderful peers this way. Plus, Jenny's our favorite teacher.

This week's prompt was provided by Ames at Girl Raised in the South. I took the liberty of integrating it with a sequel to my sci-fi piece here. The prompt is bolded below. Enjoy!


Unwelcomed Growth

Scotty and Spock return to the bar, .87 bud light years later.

“Hey Spock! How’d it go with Natashialovarita?”

“Don’t know. Must’ve inserted memory into repression filter. Press emergency trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral-therapy button – level 18 months, $26,900 worth."

“Got it,” Scott says with a cheery thumbs-up.

Spock collects the print-out and reads aloud.

“She was ravenous. It was growing bigger by the minute. We stared in awe. She wouldn’t touch it. *Bleep!* She ate like a cow. I’ll be paying that bill off for another 5200 arterial contusions.” Sigh.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

On Why I Choose Celibacy, Reasons #63-70 aka I'll Take the Gawkers

With just 24 days left in the San Francisco Bay Area, and a mere 10 days before Valentine's, I figured it's time to search more intensively. So, here you have it, lifted directly from current on-line dating ads, reasons #63-70 to justify my celibate existence. Enjoy. Someone's got to.

REASON #63: I like playing my guitar and taking pitchers of nature. This begs the questions: Where do you take these pitchers, and what are they filled with? I love any ting out doors...In the summer I like going to as many Fest as I can, because the music is such a wide verity that I get to meet all kinds of interesting people. PARTY TIME!!!!! You bring the verity of tings in pitchers, and look for me out doors. Keep looking. That’s it. Keep looking.

REASON #64: Im really not very good at telling about myself, what do you say thats not what you ment to say. Say what? What do you men by that?

REASON #65: I would love to be the head of an Abrahamic home which will be characteristic of the 144,000. That’s an awful lotta kids. Have you checked with Kate or the Octomom? The love and respect manifested for each family member toward one another will be a witness to the order and love of heaven. The home I long to be a part of will be despised by Satan, the Gay community and the woman's lib, gay friendly church leaders. Yeah, watch out for those woman’s lib, gay friendly church leaders. They like to gather braless, rearrange the pews and paint them pink…Would you rather wear tight denim jeans that expose the exact shape of your body like a whorish woman or would you rather please God and your husband by wearing the beautiful veil of modesty that brings you peace by hiding your beautiful body from gawking men of the streets that do not have the right to look and lust after your beauty? You think I’m stupid? Option A, hands down. A woman needs her dose of gawking, especially when she can barely squeeze into her jeans anymore. But I can tell you where to stick that beautiful, modest veil in a manner that will bring me peace.

REASON #66: Bad ass mofo from the 313=Detroit. Honestly, this one tempts me. I do value my life, though. Momma Fargo, will you kindly join me (in uniform)? I'm not packing.

REASON #67: I don't have anything else planned today, let's get drunk! No thanks, hon. I’m going in search of the bad ass mofo from the 313. Cheers to you.

REASON #68: I have a broken life. My Motercycle is broken. My boat is broken. My heart has been broken meny times. I am lonly and bored. Could realy use a friend (female) that wants to do things like go to a movie, live show, concert or just go to the park. I like to going camping, fishing, ect. as much as watching a good movie at home. I play games on PS2 as a passtime. I don't go to the nightclubs much but, I love to dance. This is really, really sad. You added an unnecessary comma in that last sentence. Waste brings me down.

REASON #69: Hobbies--- Balloon sculpting , underwater baskit weaving , star trek convention coordinater , standup comedian , rock star stripper. lolololol, No really tho --- um , Hmmm? lets see, I like to makeout . lol  I’m afraid I don’t deserve such a witty man.

REASON #70: So here is my deal I asked Santa for a girlfriend this year, and thinking I was pretty good I thought he would grant my Christmas wish but alas here I am still single and hopelessly looking. So I am now turning my relationship future over to Cupid.hope he dose not fail me too…i have a nice but at least big enough for Cupid's arrow to hit me ouch that would hurt. If that happens I won't be sitting down on our first date…I also feel that I am unique as a man because I am always trying to figure out what a women want's. At this point, a woman’s just looking for a mofo who can write a normal ad or find a friend to write it for him.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Paradise, Where One Man's Trash Can Be Yours Too

Paradise, CA  1/20/11

At closer look, there was no chocolate. So I left.