Rethinking A Few Things

I spent last week in New York.  It was a work trip that had been planned for a while.  It wasn’t really good timing, and it wasn’t really a thing I wanted to do, really.   I thought perhaps that it might distract me from some things which will remain unsaid.   It was distracting, and it did put certain things out of my mind, but yet, the things that replaced those thoughts were perhaps not what I was expecting.

It wasn’t so long ago, visiting for another work trip at a different job entirely, that I thought that I could easily move to New York at any time.  In fact, I even envisioned myself going to NYU for grad school.  I didn’t even care what the field of study might be.  The point was that I would be living the student life, probably sharing an apartment in an exotic borough, like the Bronx.   I always thought of it as a sojourn.  I felt that I would spend a few years in The Big Apple, but eventually the Bay Area, specifically the East Bay, was where I would end up for good.  I have never felt that I belonged anywhere the way that I feel that I belong here at home.

As the years went by, it was a dream I sort of forgot about.  I knew I wouldn’t lay down permanent roots somewhere else, so I just settled into my roots here, and forgot about moving away.   I explored more of the world, even further outside of New York and the United States, and everywhere I’ve ever been, no matter how much I liked it, I always was happy to come home to California, to Oakland.  I am more Oakland or East Bay than anything else.

So, it didn’t surprise me very much to find myself not really digging New York.  I mean, strongly not digging.  I could not wait to get the heck out of there.  I didn’t want to listen to the endless honking, and I didn’t want to get bumped and jostled down the street.  I had no desire to squeeze myself onto an overpacked rush hour subway train.  I didn’t want to wear a hat, a hoodie, a coat, a scarf, and mittens. Every part of my body seemed to be screaming in protest to my surroundings.  And at the end of the day, I was so tired.

New York City is exhausting, and it wears my soul out.

When I finally got home, and walked to work on Monday, the sun was shining, I was wearing a light hoodie, no one bumped me as I walked down the street, and I think maybe I heard one car horn honk.  I am so happy to be home. Home, sweet, peaceful Oakland.


Just sayin’.

Words Fail

Sometimes there’s nothing to say, and nothing to do, except sit and wait for the awful to wash over and be done.   There are things so unspeakable, so horrific, and heartbreaking, that no possible action could ever make the thought of them less painful.

I’m sitting in a hotel room in New York City right now.  I have very little desire to go out and explore, as I have done in the past when visiting.  I just kind of want to sit here, with myself and my thoughts.  I’m not feeling too adventurous,  and I spent a large portion of the evening playing a simple and silly video game.  My stomach is bothering me.  I have a headache.

Really, what happened, though, is something so awful, that I don’t really want to write it anymore.   I’ve written it a couple of times, in emails, and in instant message windows, when saying it out loud was too hard.  I don’t want to put the letters together to form the words that make up the sentence that explains why I am sitting here alone.   This thing, it was bad.  Really bad.  And I’m not all that surprised to find that it’s effecting me in strange ways.    The sleeplessness I expected.  I figured that I would cry a lot, and thus have headaches.  I didn’t realize how dehydrated I’d really get.   I wasn’t expecting actual physical pain that would double me over.

I’m here in New York for work.  If not for work, I would have stayed home.   I just want to curl into a ball around my yucky tummy, and my heavy heart, and my headache, and cry as much as I want.

I am grieving, and it’s not something I want to be doing right here.

The Catch Up Blog

It’s been a while, so I figured I’d just do one decent length blog to catch the masses up on what I’m doing. I’m still not sure who all reads this blog, besides my mom. Hi Mom!

At the moment, I’m sitting in my apartment, which is trashed, in a pair of sweats, ball cap, and tennis shoes. I just got back from picking up supplies at the am/pm on the corner. I have been subsisting on juice, Gatorade, and soup since Sunday evening. I got home from a trip (more on that further down) and found that I had a temperature of 101. My temperature has been fluctuating ever since. I keep thinking the fever is behind me, but then it’s up to 100 again. Although, it hasn’t gotten as high as 101 since Sunday, which is good, because that was miserable. This morning while I was asleep, I got a good sweat going, so that I woke up doing the backstroke in a woman made pond.

The past three weeks, it seems, I’ve spent as much time traveling as I have at home. First was a quick business trip to New York. It was so quick that I didn’t have much time to do any running around on my own. It was also bitterly cold. Luckily I was able to pick up a nice warm pair of boots, which will come back into this tail shortly. I was out of New York before I really knew I was there, and back to Oakland.

However, before I left New York, I spoke to my second oldest sister. She told me that she would be in Bakersfield the following weekend for a funeral on her mother’s side of the family. We are half sisters, with different mothers, so this was not a funeral for anyone related to me. Since it’s only a four hour drive down to Bakersfield, and I hadn’t seen my sister in a few years, I suggested that I could come down, and we could share a hotel together. She agreed, and so before I left for home on Friday, I knew that the next Friday I’d be on the road again.

The reason that I got in touch with my sister that Friday was that I had received an email from our oldest sister earlier that day. It’s always nice to have a second opinion on the goings on within a family, let alone a fragmented one. My oldest sister wrote to tell me that she had been to a new doctor, and they had confirmed that there was nothing to be done about her cancer. She was the one who inspired me to donate my hair. Also in the letter, she said that herself, her oldest son, and my step-brother would be making a trip out to California in a couple of weeks. I was very glad that I would have another opportunity to see her, as the last time I had was when I was still a toddler. Yeah, fragmented.

The following Friday, I drove down to Bakersfield to spend a weekend in a hotel with my sister. I also intended to stop by the cemetery while I was in town to place some flowers on my grandparents’ graves. We were sitting around that first night, drinking beer that we’d gotten from the gas station nearby, when my sisters’ mother called. My oldest sister had passed away about an hour earlier.

It was quite a shock, and I’m very glad that I had been with my other sister when I got the news. I would have hated to have been alone when I found out.

The really sad part is the weirdness of it. My oldest sister and I were not close. We hadn’t seen each other in almost a life time. Sisterhood is rumored to be one of the strongest bonds, and yet, we never really worked it out. The fact that there was a sixteen year age gap and that we were never raised under the same roof, combined with the lack of much in common kept us apart. We were young, though, and I always thought there would be time to work it out. I thought she’d be here in a couple of weeks, and I’d at least have the chance to say goodbye. What I’m mourning seems to be the loss of an opportunity, really.

Before the end of that weekend, my sister and I had booked plane tickets to Missouri, where the funeral would be held. We were going to fly into the same airport together, meet up, rent a car, drive down to the town where our sister had lived, and share a hotel. The oldest of my sister’s boys was going to come with her. I felt it was important to go to the funeral because of our sister’s three children, who are all grown, but I figured would still need some support. I’ve grown pretty close with her oldest via MySpace, especially when he was in Iraq last year.

Thursday morning I headed out, and got into Missouri in the afternoon. It was a four hour drive from the airport down to our destination. We got in and the first thing we did was try to get on the internet. My sister is enrolled in online classes, so it was vital that we had internet access over the weekend. Well, we both could see and connect to the wireless router, but neither of us could get onto the internet. It never worked the entire weekend, and I was feeling with-drawl symptoms.

The next morning we went in search of breakfast and/or an internet cafe. No go. Being from Oakland, I suppose I am quite spoiled. There are no less than four cafes within a few blocks of my apartment where I could order a coffee and a sandwich and sit down with my laptop to do some writing.

Friday evening was the viewing. I’m not a big fan of open casket. I don’t think there’s anything left of the person in the body left behind, and so I didn’t take a very good look. There were many people at the viewing.

Saturday there was a grave side service. The service was pretty nice. They played some very tear jerking country songs that I had never heard. It was just damn cold. This is where those warm boots from the New York trip came in handy, however my feet were still freezing. I woke up that morning already feeling yucky, and I think that the fever started that day.

I was very glad that I got to attend the funeral, and that I got to meet some new family. Hopefully I’ll get to stay home and stay well for a few weeks now.

Bright Lights, Big City

I’m off to New York again tomorrow for another business trip. When I was there in October, I honestly thought it would be a one shot type of deal. Here it is just three months later, and I’m off again. This is going to be a ridiculously short trip. I fly out tomorrow morning, arriving at JFK at 4:20 in the afternoon. I fly back just about 48 hours later, leaving JFK at 5:45 in the evening on Friday. With the time difference, I’ll be back at SFO by 10 on Friday night. At that point, I’ll drive myself home and collapse immediately.

I’m not really looking forward to this trip. I think it’s just too short to be enjoyable. I don’t even care about the fact that I’m going to be in New York. I love that city, but I just can’t get amped this time. One of these days, I’m going to save up some cash and just spend a whole week there doing whatever I want, going to as many shows as I can, seeing all the museums. Of course, I’ll spend as much time in the East Village as possible.

But on this trip, I think I’ll just do the work stuff, get in, get out, and come home.

I Find that I *Can* Make it There

This last week’s journey to New York City was a work related trip. I got in on Sunday evening, checked into the hotel, and then headed out with my two co-workers from SF to find some food. We decided to try the West Village, and as we were walking down the street, I spotted an Ethiopian restaurant. Everyone knows I love me some goop on flat bread, so I was down. One of my co-workers had never had it, but he was game to try. I thought it was really good, but I also think I’ve had better in Oakland at either Ensarro or Cafe Colucci.

Once we were done with dinner, we decided to aimlessly wander the streets of New York. We ended up at a pub for a pint, and caught a bit of the ALCS game 7. Then our party diminished by one, and me and the other co-worker decided to check out Times Square.


Sorry to report, there was no debauchery this time.

After tromping through the theater district, my co-worker decided to call it a night, so I was on my own. I decided I wanted to see some more of that ball game, so I found an Irish pub (there are a million of them) and bellied up to the bar. The funny thing, mambo music was blaring out of the jukebox the entire time. No jigs. No reels. No airs. Just mambo. I thought it was a wee bit funny. Anyway, I was watching the game, enjoying the pint or two, but I was really only one of two paying attention. I felt like there had to be a better place to see it, but at the same time, I didn’t want to wander any more. I eventually went back to my room to watch the last inning. And then I called my mom to tell her how big the room was. I had a suite to myself, and it was bigger than my new apartment. (BTW – still haven’t moved, but I’m packing.)

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Eventually I got to bed around one in the morning east coast time, which would be ten back home, so still pretty early for me.

Monday was the first day of our training and meetings. I have to say the best part of the trip, work wise, was meeting a bunch of people face to face who I had only emailed, IMed, and telephoned before. My co-worker likened it to the first date with someone you met via on-line dating.

After work, we went to dinner as a crew, I think there were probably 30 people at the dinner. We had “Mexican Themed” food. They called it Mexican, but I’m sorry, that was not Mexican. The guacamole was decent. That’s all I have to say about that. I’ve had better margaritas. After the dinner, a smaller contingent of about 15 ventured to a nearby lounge. From that point on, people began to mysteriously disappear, and the party dwindled. Finally it was just me and the crew from Boston. I had no idea what time it was, but they wanted to make their way over to Times Square (again) and were very keen to have me come along.

So I found myself at another Irish pub, with the 4th pint of Guinness on the evening, having a lively discussion with a pair of guys from the Boston office, when I leisurely looked at my cell to find that it was three in the morning!!! I booked it out of there, got a cab back to my hotel, and crashed.

I made it to work on time the next morning, but I’m not sure how. I chugged two cups of hotel room coffee first thing in the morning, and I know that I would have died had I not. That day went without much incident, and that evening, I finally had some time to myself.

I wandered the East Village for hours, trying to make up mind where to eat, before I finally decided on a Himalayan place. I had the best salad there, with avocados and potatoes in a citrus dressing. Then I hopped in a saloon I’d seen that had gotten my attention. It was the Double Down Saloon. There’s a saloon of the same name in Las Vegas that I spent some time in the last time I was there. It turns out that the one in the East Village is owned by the same man as the one in Vegas. I thought it was pretty cool, plus earned me some bragging rights for having had a PBR or two at both locations. Tuesday was a relatively early evening, as I was back in the hotel around 11.

Wednesday was nothing to write home about in the office, but my Himalayan experience the night before had me craving Burmese food. I knew that my co-worker from SF would be down too, and we decided to put the invite out to everyone. Since the company wouldn’t be picking up this check, only our boss was interested in going. The three of us had a good time, though, and I really felt that it gave us a chance to bond with “The Big Guy in New York” who we really don’t know too too well.

After dinner, the boss took off, and we found ourselves in the East Village again. At this point, the warm place in my heart for that neighborhood was well established.  I got in touch with a co-worker, J-lew, from my last job at ZD who is now living in New York, working out of their East Coast office.   It turns out she lives in the East Village, too.   She came down and had a couple of beers, before showing us the greatest food spot in all the world.   It’s called Pommes Frites.  Basically, all they sell are fries, Belgian Fries to be exact.   And they have a bagillion different dipping sauces.   We had pesto mayo, honey mustard, and mango chutney.  It was the best late night snack for us three girls to share.    J also showed us around the corner to a place called Bamn that was like an old school automat, with vending machines full of hot grilled cheese and chicken strips.    Well, my affection for the neighborhood increased to full blown infatuation at this stage.  I vow to make many returns.

The next afternoon, I boarded my plane to return back to San Francisco.  It had been a good trip, but I was ready to return to my life, get on with the packing and moving, and deal in full time reality.  Plus, the food and drink was starting to take its toll.   It turns out that I gained five pounds when I was in New York.

The trip was good, though.  I feel like I had got a lot out of the work experience, and I feel that it boosted my confidence a lot.  I think that if I wanted to, I could totally make it in New York City, and if that’s the case, then Berkeley should be a breeze.

Just sayin’.