A Best Year, 2017

December 26 – January 1

Sitting on the couch now  nearing the end of my first week in the new year having a small cold that gave strange feverish dreams This year, I’m already batting 1,000, as my boyfriend said.

But the promise of the future is that there is always the good to outweigh whatever bad, small or big, is thrown at me. 2018 is proving to be a more unpredictable year, and while I go along with each day and what it brings, at least I can remember a beautiful ending to the most extravagant year of my life, now gone but never to be forgotten.

I had no expectations going into 2017 when the clock struck midnight just a year ago, downtown at the Havana Nights-themed party held at one of my favorite bars, Novela. I was there under the gold balloons and stealing kisses with my sweetheart in a plastic top hat, his hands around me and a glass of champagne which he drunkenly kept clinking against mine. A sweet memory to start off the year, and I should have taken that as a marker of the glorious things to come.

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Traveling was the first adventure of the year– in fact comprised of many. It began with the feathery Spanish Moss draping old Oak trees in Georgia where I met my boyfriend’s family for the first time, and not long after I was moved along into unknown lands beyond the sea where my dreams of London came true, followed by a tough love wanderlust through the streets of Paris and finally a breath of fresh air and warm sun in the two days in Bruges that wrapped up Europe. Then I was fortunate enough to be chosen by my team at work to represent and train our colleagues out in Mumbai– a place I never dreamed of going, just on my own. Almost turning down that opportunity, I look back now and for certain know that it was all meant to be, with no regrets and just perfect memories in my mind of a new world I enjoyed to the fullest. Rounding out the year was an intimate, wild weekend of adventures with my sister in New England, apple picking and casting spells and getting caught in the rain of old seaside towns where fishing boats swayed in still waters.

In the magic of the moment, you really hold onto the offerings of these new places, unfamiliar people, and a life so far from the one you’ve only known. The many adventures of the past year remind me that I was lucky to get away– lucky to come back too. Travel is a fleeting privilege, chaining us by timing and means and frankly, our drive– when those two other factors fall into place. And when they do, you’re only left with the destination– or one of many– before you, and an open door that will always tempt you with each passing year. There’s that feeling of never knowing whether you really will return or not– and that’s what makes every second away home unforgettable.

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Motivation and drive have always been engrained in my spirit, the force behind why I still write. Making a difference, having an impact– in 2017 these were made possible with the simple daydream I had one morning in March that became the beautiful joy Marjorie Magazine. Having felt the strain and hangups of freelancing and submitting in pieces to publications of all prestige, now was the time for me to create something beautiful for the world– by the world of writers. Something to help our cause and give the voice and power back into the dark of writing for nothing– here, you find writers writing for something, something that they’re passionate about and coming to you and placing the moment of truth in your hands. It’s been strange to have such power, but it’s a noble cause to keep the faith and give fellow writers a chance they really want.

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Marjorie Magazine has already published two print issues, gathered slow but genuine interest across social media, and we have photographers and contributors scattered across the country. Making these connections to people sharing the same love in beautiful, old things has been the most rewarding, a new adventure without having gone anywhere. Is it successful? Not on the level I hope to achieve one day, maybe this year, maybe not– but existing alone is already success in itself. Until then, getting the word out, mapping out what marketing techniques are working on my own, and getting the privilege to turn my own experiences into an awkward yet truthful and positive presentation at a Blurb X Weebly X Unsplash Business and Branding Panel cannot say otherwise about a bright future ahead for these risks I’m taking at making my own dreams come true.

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And lastly, loves of the past remain in the present. Old loves, old friends, and new loves, like that in our newest family addition, have entered into 2018 with me, and right now my only concern is not whether or not anyone might go anywhere– only where our journeys will take us together. Raising Bentley has rekindled a new sense of joy in my family; my daddy talking in baby voices as he once did when we were little girls and when we had our other dog, Louie, my mom who’s notoriously indifferent to animals and yet chasing the 6-month-old in circles around our family room table and petting him lots when he’s sitting still. My sister still struggles at getting him to behave, in getting him to be more cuddly and trusting of people, but she’s proven herself stronger, more motivated now that he is in her life. Bentley is the perfect young boy to further cement how lucky I’ve been in finding new ways to love, when already been blessed with this family of mine, and that perfect sweetheart already by my side.

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Yes you, you nearly 2 feet taller than me and indulging in my crude humor and too much sugar and cold hands and listing to Hamilton while we quote The Room together. To this day, to the night we had a fight on the steps of an apartment where a Christmas party went on inside or the uncomfortable morning after both being drunk out the night before and getting mad at each other for damning actions, we always talk about the future, and how it will never change as long as we’re together. You still proclaim that I am a saint, putting up with the stress of law school and night classes and constantly worrying, but no, that has never bother me. These things are in your mind, and I shall always stay here to remind you that that’s where they stay, in your imagination, far from the near perfect reality we are happily living together.

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So when I think of how 2018 might go, and how it’s already been going– simply 9 days in– I also remember how uncertain I was of anything in 2017, how much was unplanned, and how many extraordinary. A year of magic is behind me, but it is not THE year of magic. More are to come, as magic is only real when you believe in it. And to the very last day of the year before midnight, I believed it all. In the drive over the Golden Gate Bridge, to the quiet silver waves in the dark after dinner along the shores of Sausalito, and as I kissed my boyfriend in an Outer Sunset Irish pub to the sounds of a favorite tune singing of sleepless city fairytales, I couldn’t have found 2017 to leave us on a bittersweet, almost perfect night.

And so this magic is always going to be there, with each passing year, just so long as you remember to look out for it. 2018, proceed to inspire.

 

 

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Fairytale of San Francisco

December 9 – December 17

‘Twas the season of wants: wanting presents, wanting reasons to wear (faux) fur coats, wanting more Irish Coffee– wanting that absolute feeling of the holiday season.

Especially during Christmas time I tend to favor Irish pubs. I think it’s the dimness, the wood fixtures and the booths that add to the closed in feeling that feels intimate to me. Add twinkle lights and a hot Irish Coffee and the magic is done. A cozy Christmas that makes you laugh and want to chug Guinness, or dance to “Fairytale of New York” by The Pogues. I first heard the song in New York, our last night in Manhattan with my oldest friend dancing with strangers in Joshua Tree just a few blocks away from the Chrysler Building. Other songs in the dive playlist of that night varied from Maria Carey’s Christmas anthem to LFO’s “Summer Girls” and “Come On Eileen.” I still listen to those songs when I want to think about nights in New York, but the Pogues’ tune I reserve for December alone.

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A night like tonight has me missing Manhattan the most. There are poinsettia garlands and a cedar tree candle that burns against the half-blown twinkle lights draped over my bed, curtains drawn and the passing of cars humming in the air like any big city– this might as well be Midtown, but it’s not. Let’s try to imagine though, shall we? That this studio isn’t on the corner of the outskirts of Lower Pac Heights; I’m the second floor snug apartment of a brownstone somewhere in the Upper West Side, and it’s snowing out and perhaps I live above a bodega that’s got fat trees tethered and lining the sidewalk against a chicken-wire fence where a Rockette passing through is picking herself one to take back home when she’s done dancing out at Radio City Music Hall. Just a thought, a silly daydream to really just make me feel the Christmas spirit when San Francisco is a little lacking. It’s sunny out by the Bay, only 8 days left to really soak in the festivities around but there’s a great deal of stress at work that doesn’t have me thinking of sugar plums or even my shopping list for friends and family. And I’m alone in this city, tonight at least. I debated calling up some friends from work to join in cheap wine and marzipan while we watch A Cinderella Christmas on cable TV, but it’s too late now.

I get a call. A missed call, followed by a voicemail. It goes, for a whole minute:

Hi, Paris, I was wondering if you could call me back because– I don’t know– it’s your boyfriend– and if you could call me back that would be wonderful! And, I don’t even know what I would do without you calling me back– because it makes me so upset– and I’m upset with you right now not calling me back while talking about you not calling me while I’m upset and I just get so sad while I’m so upset– OK babe, I’ll call you soon! And I’m not upset… I just wanna talk to you! And– ow– I kinda fucked up my knee tonight– but I won at Fantasy Football, so… that happened– I don’t know, I love you! I will talk to you soon, call me ’cause I’m leaving to go to the Rockefeller Tree right now– by myself– and…yeeeahhhh…OK, I’ll talk to you soon, goodbye babe!

I call him back before I even saw I had a voicemail, but I wait now on his promise to call me back once he’s reached Rockefeller Center so that we can Facetime and he can send me Snaps. A soft voice, filled with rye and shots and sincere lament about me not being there when he sees the tree all lit up. And as I wait for his face to light up my phone screen I put on the kettle for some Earl Grey, sit in front of the space heater, and listen to the Pogues again, singing about a night like this I imagine, somewhere out in the streets singing Galway Bay and throwing punches at the sky.

Almost an hour goes by and nothing. I call his phone twice and when it goes to his voicemail I don’t want to think the worst of anything but somehow I still do. Although, I’m not quite sure who’d want to pick on the lanky young white guy in a hoodie and Packers jersey– they did just lose earlier that day after all to the Panthers, and no one would want to fuck with a fan, not during Christmas. Too cruel, no?

But alas, a call back! Turns out, it was just a dead phone. 3 percent it was at when he hung up on me only two hours earlier. And the tree at Rockefeller Center wasn’t even lit up.

“I was confused,” he tells me. “There was only a hot dog vendor and he said they only keep it lit up in the early evening. I feel like an idiot.” I tell him he’s not; he kind of is, but for all the antics any wasted person could partake in, walking alone to Rockefeller Center with the promise to call one’s girlfriend is beyond one of the less stupid things. Instead, in our beds halfway across the country from each other, we sink into conversations about the night and what he’s been doing in New York, catching up with his college buds from St. John’s, the possibility of being stranded there if the power isn’t back up at the Atlanta airport where he’s supposed to fly into Tuesday for his family, and how we wish we could both be there where he is now.

So far, and yet, this is the closet I’ve felt with him this Christmas. Not when we drank from 11AM to midnight in ugly sweaters during SantaCon or danced like bosses in our suit and floor-length red gown on the balcony overlooking the Verso dance floor during my work holiday party with an Old Fashioned and Dirty Shirley in hands. He took off early that night– that was a punch to the gut of an already short night that was meant to be a magical moment for us to really be together. But the farther away we are now, we’re enjoying our company best.

I go to sleep now, with that song still fresh in my head, lights out, and turning my face away to keep on dreaming about a night in New York– at least a memorable night that felt so real, thanks to a fairytale sung tonight.

 

December Comes for Fillmore Street

December 1- December 3

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December is the one month that makes itself known. All other seasons and months creep into each other, seemingly like the last week before it and then you’ll start seeing flowers bloom early, leaves turning brown and falling one leaf at a time, and maybe the temperature drops or rises a few degrees beneath fog that never goes away. December is an entity on its own, the diva that makes her hurrah and appearance at the 11th hour of the year. I read on Facebook from a pretty-font picture shared that “December you’re last, so be the best” or something to that sentiment. And doesn’t that ring true, and pretty literally, as bells high and low around this town and the world ring with merry and cheer and to signal that Christmas and Hannukah and the lights of the city and coming home for the Holidays amidst the dark days and cold is here. You just know.

Every year I know when it’s December, you just see it. And I saw it for the first time in the way it should matter, frankly. My neighborhood, the very streets within proximity to the very air I breathe in the mornings and before I go to bed at night. The neighborhood you live within is how you make your bones in this city, the place that gets you up in the morning and motivates you to taste everything San Francisco throws at you. The steep hills lined in paint-chipping Victorians leading from Van Ness and through Japantown up to Fillmore Street. I live here, and it’s only right that I feel the most alive when walking around these streets whose unique stories I help create and feel obligated to tell. It’s a good thing San Francisco is a tiny space of 7×7; it’s big enough where I easily neglect to hang around my own neighborhood in search of other exciting ventures beyond its borders like the Mission or Hayes Valley. But tonight, here I remain, and here I see the month makeover the neighborhood at the arrival of the diva I proclaimed December.

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Fillmore Street is the hub of Jazz on the West Coast, or it was where it fermented into the phenomenon that brought life and  bohemia and inclusion beyond the Mississippi. In one of these shacks Allen Ginsburg first exposed the words of his infamous Howl to the literary likes of Beatniks before they knew what the hell they were (and reveled in the namelessness), and it wasn’t called the Harlem of the West without the endless nightclubs lining the street that I now call home, and jazzed up in a different way from that of the 40’s. The music being sung tonight is a typical hum of classics being crooed from beyond the doors of the storefronts lit up in warm white, a glow familiarly cast throughout the year, but spectacular when heightened by the strung lights between the bushy trees that pave the sidewalks. Saturdays the rivaling cafes Peet’s and Starbucks cater to the crowds out and shopping and wandering up and down in and out of these stores, but as we pass Starbucks we see in its quiet facade it is not the victor of this evening. The cup of hot peppermint cocoa cupped in my hands is bubbling and perfect and from Peet’s anyhow, with its pristine corner spot and spacious seating that always spares a few open chairs no matter the crowd size. Too bad theirs doesn’t smother my cocoa in whipped cream on top.

I’m walking besides my boyfriend as we meander up Fillmore towards Pacific Street, a dark peak overlooking the shadow of the bay amidst the buildings frosted in cold and more twinkle lights. We stop at an Antiques store with its door closed to the red walls where shelves house spoons and painted jewelry boxes and fine china that make me nervous sitting close to the edge of the shelves. Outside is a bargain table, all entertaining just the same, especially with a silk top hat, a bit shabby, sitting atop some of the goods and ready for my boyfriend to try on. He smiles at me, and politely declines my offer.

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Turning around at the new Blue Bottle that’s taken over the old vacancies of Tully’s Coffee and the relocated magazine shop Juicy News, we occasionally stop and inspect the new restaurants that cross our path, examine the menus, and mutually agree that we don’t come out to eat here often. It’s mostly me going to his in the Outer Sunset. A corner restaurant is long and dim inside and there’s nothing on the gray walls, but it’s crowded, the new restaurant that I later find is The Snug– it sadly looks anything but.

The Room’s monthly midnight showing is tonight at The Clay theater, 12AM on the dot. It’s a special month though, one that sees The Room more in the spotlight as usual thanks to James Franco’s tell all new film The Disaster Artist. We tried seeing that earlier today, but $15 is still too much for a ticket in the wake of all the Christmas shopping and deposit-saving that looms in the back of our minds. If we had money, we wouldn’t be wandering here, anyhow.

Lastly, disgusted by the $50 mini trees at Mollie Stone’s, we circle back to the narrow shop of the Paper Source, dear to my heart and a monument to my past. Only three years ago I spent a bustling holiday inside, name-tagged and running around helping new faces to the tiny paper craft and stationery store where I ran workshops on gift-wrapping and card-making and quoting invitations for hopeful brides and realized that I was meant for behind the scenes, creating and not catering to. But the store looks nice as it ever did, the new seasonal kits on display to show how easy they are to make, the quirky wreath-shaped tinsel sunglasses or the calendar art pasted against the walls where the punny cards collect dust. A Fillmore Street exclusive delicacy to the store is the Peppermint Crunch Junior Mints– I wonder if they still damage the boxes to mark them out for the employees to snack on behind the counters.

Talk about magic. It’s a beautiful night in the neighborhood this first week of December and it’s not as glamorous of a stroll as Christmastime in the city is sung about. We didn’t hear silver bells, the sidewalks aren’t crowded, and there is a slight chance you can step on dog poop in this dark. All the more charming and unique to the way I start this year’s festivities, and unique, as I sit down on the steps of an apartment building I don’t even live at, to the scene before my eyes where a new home comes to life in a way that only you can see, and know, that a most wonderful time is upon you.

 

Row Boat for Sunday: Summer Vignettes

It’s a luxury that I’m used to be completely secluded with my loved ones. It was last with faces from college when our boat was Rihannon, and now in a nameless rower we’re still just the two of us, untouched and separated from the beauty of these old trees and turtles below that find us circling and troubling these shining waters where as we try to stay afloat, we’re still falling in deep for each other.

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Weekly Wonders: October 16th

Weekly Wonders Oct. 9 (3)

Perry Ellis boots, these are my absolute favorite for fall weather. I stumbled upon them at the Vintage Thrift West store in Greenwich when I was in New York last December. I tried them on, left the store, and not two blocks away I asked my friend if we could turn back. No regrets! And were only $24. You must check out the pretty embroidering on the toes, too.

Julia Engel of Gal Meets Glam just came out with a gorgeous rug in a collaboration with Lulu & Georgia! She’s one of my favorite bloggers, being a fellow California gal with a love for the south and florals, plus her and her husband (and her photographer) Tom are just adorable. The Garden Party Rug is the first thing I want to add to my apartment when I get around to redecorating next year.

I came across Pascal Campion’s artwork this past month simply scrolling through Facebook. The first thing I fell in love with was his style; the composition of light and contrasting simpler, neutral warm colors make his work feel so welcoming. And then the subjects, mostly of him and his wife and their three children. They live a happy life, family pillow fights, days at the beach– but the intimate paintings of Pascal and his wife alone, when they’re having coffee together in the kitchen or talking to themselves on a fire escape at a party or embracing in bed in the early morning resonates so much with me. Looking at those particular works, I don’t see the artist his wife– I feel like I can only see me, and my own love.

Tea is always the perfect way to start and end the day. I’ve been working from home a lot this week, and I couldn’t go get coffee– so it’s nice to get back onto tea for a bit! And best served in a pretty little mug.

My favorite spot in Golden Gate Park is the Shakespeare Garden. Despite the heavy smoke from the fires up north, I still found myself out in the sunshine and thick haze to admire its glory. It’s peaceful, rather hidden, and contains all the flora mentioned in Shakespeare’s works. Also, it’s the only place in San Francisco where I can soak in the beauty of my favorite plant, Spanish Moss, draping the dark trees overhead. It’s a lovely sight, as anywhere there is Spanish Moss, as far as I’m concerned, is Heaven.

While walking about Golden Gate Park, my friend (who is back from living in Portland!) and I stumbled upon John Steven Morgan sitting at an upright piano and playing this own breathtaking compositions aloud for all to hear and fall in love with. I sure did. I particularly am drawn to his song, “Robots.”

I finally did it. After years of wondering and hearing the buzz surrounding last year’s revival and constantly being told it’s a show I would love, I am finally getting into the Gilmore Girls! OMG! It truly is the show for me. Some of the scenes and plot lines can get a bit fantastical, but the heart and soul of the story is perfect. The characters, their dynamics with each other, the magical setting of Stars Hollow, all belissimo! This is the kind of story I aspire to writing down the road.

When in doubt, Fairy Lights. It’s actually the best way to get your home or work desk to feel festive (I’ve strung it around the desktop screen) for all seasons– summer, fall, and of course, Christmas. Little effort, everlasting impact.

 

Caen’s Truth: Summer Vignettes

June 2017

The fog might thin and the heat may swelter, but then this city becomes a gem that’s fallen out of a dream and into the hands of women in rompers and boys who wander parks wth coconuts filled with rum and falling shades. I sat there by the Phoenix poolside and on the slopes of Dolores waiting any minute to die and truly find that Heaven was nice, but it wasn’t San Francisco.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts I Have About Having A Dog in my Life

September 25 – October 3rd

How much more do I need to wash my hands? The answer, I learn, doesn’t matter anymore. I’ve probably hand-fed Bentley his good boy treats countless times after popping some candy corn in my mouth or removing a stray lash from my eye.

Puppy smell–and especially the breath– is real. The first night someone asked to smell him was a Friday night at the Skippolini’s in downtown Clayton when we were staying over to visit my parents. The woman took in a big whiff, right up on his soft, dirty fur– the face of my mom was priceless.

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Being in India for a week I was prepared for the jet lag, the odd hours at feeling fatigue or waking up. 4 am is like clockwork now– and it’s not because of that. I was prepared for the jet lag but I wasn’t prepared for how hard it would be to potty train a puppy in a small San Francisco apartment.

That brings me to budget. When the bills are taken into account, there’s usually a rough amount left for whatever the hell fancies me. Let’s take about a 25% chunk out of that. Let’s just call it a day most days and stay in to watch the dog– and save money.

He’s not much of a walker.

We took him walking before he finished his Porvo shots.

We took him walking after the shots. He still hates walking.

One of my fondest memories of these first walks was over to Lafayette Square, on a Friday afternoon. I think I was hungover, coming from the HAIM concert the night before in Oakland and I was in bed the whole day while thankfully he slept. He slept until 11 and finding things for him to chew other than his actual toys was the name of the game. Then my boyfriend came by to keep us company. Our first walk together was the three of us two blocks away to Lafayette Square beneath small billowy trees still green before the fall hit and fresh-cut grass with those scattered little blossoms he tried chewing on. We sat on a bench as other owners walked by and forgot for a second about their dogs as they looked at us. “Aww!” “So cute!” “Welcome to the world, little guy!” They told us we had such an adorable dog. My boyfriend and I looked over at each other. Someday, we’re thinking to ourselves. Someday we’ll have our own Bentley.

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He’s into big dogs. Namely big girl dogs.

He’s small right now to pick him up if he gets unruly. Same with baths in the kitchen sink. So much water. It won’t be this way for long.

I think about this a lot, especially during the puppy training class we attend at Puppy Prep down on 6th Street Sundays at noon. There’s a special part of the session where the dogs are let off their leashes and they must socialize, not long before owners have to dive in to pick up their dogs as they say “GOTCHA!” in their little ears. How the hell are we going to pull that off when Bentley– whose father was 140lbs–is full grown?

The alleyway called Clementina where we park my sister’s car smells heavily of piss.

You look at the other owners of dogs– not just in the puppy class, but all around the city– and you got Doodles and Frenchies and Corgis and perhaps other little toy dogs that stops Marina blondes in their tracks en route to hot yoga. Not my sister. She gets stares, stares for being a blonde-streaked bombshell in heels and always wearing pink paired with this whopper of a dog, considerably one of the smartest and yet most difficult and intimidating breeds out there. A Rottweiler. Did we make the right choice? Will he get too aggressive? He is now, biting us in class or growling as we try to get him off the ground to keep up his walk down the street. Maybe I should have gotten a smaller dog, my sister says to me, like other girls. She isn’t like other girls though. She loves the big dogs, especially the one she read about as a little girl who, despite his big and scary appearance, made for the perfect family pet and babysitter. We’re talking about Good Boy Carl– the dog that was only meant to be for my sister.

Having a dog means having a new car. My sister’s jeep is mid-sized and perfect for day excursions and getting around this small city with a dog. It’s forced us to get good at scoping for overnight parking and becoming familiar with street cleaning days. And my sister has improved on her ability to parallel park.

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I may be tired, but I’m starting to live for those early 6 AM wake-ups when we all pile into the car and get coffee over the hill and into the foggy streets of Chestnut or Union. Then it’s off to take our boy to Fog City Dogs– from 7 to 5PM. We’re always sad to leave him there for the day but he’s always so excited to be there, especially when he can smell his friends beyond the gate. We can even watch him on the company site’s webcams where he’s tiring himself out with Piper, a Golden Retriever puppy, and Little Mike Tyson– a tiny pitbull pup.

The attention is so crazy. The best way to make it big in the Bay Area is to work in tech or to own a dog.

This won’t be the same for long. When Bentley is bigger, people will be too scared to come by and say hey.

When he does sleep, it’s against walls or in the corners of a room or underneath tables. In his crate he once fell asleep with his head cocked back like some Exorcist fuckery. Weirdo.

Another day comes when I have to dogsit him and my nerves start failing me. He eats anything off the ground. It’s not his fault, it’s the city’s for being so dirty, I realize. But all the same I worry about the people who pass by and stare and admire him but also worry about how badly they must be judging me right now. The last thing I want to get consumed in is the fact that I don’t look like a good dog owner– and sometimes, when you have to be firm with him or tug a little bit harder at his leash, it might seem this way. I wonder now if all dog owners had to deal with this, still deal with this. A small panic attack starts, and you decide to pick him up to avoid further yelling at him but not without a fight. He snarls at you and lashes near your face, biting up your hair instead. I take another look around. No one, right now.

I know this is not the life my sister envisioned. She would have it still with the man of her dreams. If that were the case, there would be no Bentley. Bentley is here now, a reminder of moving forward with new adventures and responsibilities and a promise to herself that this is better than the nightmare before. It’s difficult now, with the training and the teething and wasting endless paper towels and money on pig ears but with the whole world so happy she’s found something that makes her smile so much, the struggle now is only temporary, and we’re all here to see this exciting new adventure through with her.

We had McDonald’s tonight for dinner. He looks up at up and tiptoes over by my sister perfectly sitting down  while looking up at us, never breaking eye-contact with our McNuggets. We’v discovered he’s finally learn the ways of the dog– food is everything, it is magic to help us through these first few months.

The diarrhea is out of control.

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North Beach Gallerina: Summer Vignettes

July 3- July 9 2017

She’s flowing between the hot lights that cast eerie glows on the black canvases pierced to the walls where faces melt, familiar faces with second eyes and splattered screaming mouths. She’s thrilled to know them and walk and waltz there among the artist and his now laughing muses with their second wines. It all ends when a promising night stabs her in the back and on aching feet only her one spectator in the crowd steps in to lift her from the stage and home in the dark of the Sunset.

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See the works of Emilio Villalba here.

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Tea, and by the Sea

June 19 – June 25

Old friends and new fancies, what more could you ask for a weekend staying in the City?

The breeze isn’t too bad when the sun is out, and the J-car that cuts through the steep side of Dolores Park and on tracks behind mossy Victorian houses is perhaps the prettiest rail line of Muni. I made these plans on a whim earlier in the week more so because of an irrational longing for tea. It’s been a frustrating complex, coming back from London obsessed with the lighter, aromatic luxury that tea feels like, versus the creamy, stiff but heartwarming sweetness of coffee– American style. I am a woman in peril, unsure of which beverage to which I pledge my allegiance. No matter the reason for tea, reason is treason– perhaps this was the British’s secret weapon all along to win back Americans: not Bond, not Harry Potter, not actors from Game of Thrones– but the simple opulence of tea time, and the various flavors that entice you to your liking.

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Lovejoy’s Tea Room, Noe Valley.

Tea is best enjoyed alone, I think. When you finally have a book or book of stories to read and a delicate mug or teacup to really take in the taste, to repose against a lumpy couch or at the kitchen table, it doesn’t matter. But there are exceptions, when there is no book to be had but a favorite familiar face, a face of a friend from the old stationery store you two worked together at and saw the worst of people losing their shit over paper goods. She gets there at the tea room, Lovejoy’s, in Noe Valley just off of the J line, and she’s with her roommate you’re meeting for the first time and that she’s been living with in Martinez for a year. Martinez! When we last met up she was living in Potrero Hill, and I feel instantly bad about making them both drive all the way from the far East Bay to here. But queue the piping hot pots of black vanilla-lavender tea and trays serving fresh fruit and perfectly-sliced sandwiches and all is forgiven. We talk about Europe, how I adored London and missed Belgium and was taken aback by the dirtiness, sadness of Paris. Everything feels sincere too, my friend is a dear. She’s the sweetest person I’ve ever worked with and she’s always in good company. This time, her roommate and I discover we’re both INFPs and I’m doing my best to help her prep for her first visit to Paris, even if my view of the City of Light was rather dim.

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The magical array of teacups for sale at Lovejoy’s Attic, across the street from the tea room.

Summer tea is a real thing. The warmth, the calming feeling and always best enjoyed in the evening when the days are longer. Best enjoyed with friends. Best enjoyed no matter where you are during the summer months. Ralph Waldo Emerson figured it out–

“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.”

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Ocean Beach, San Francisco.

The following day when the sea called and the sun was out, the only thing left to do was drink in the air. Best served up salty, cool, and spraying against your feet in the dark sand. Summer tea has no real formula, but just for this weekend, that’s the kind of taste that leaves you wanting more– and to share it with favorite faces, always.

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