last days

August 3, 2010

Today was my last day working at Rejuvenation. I rode in at 7:30am, like always, spent several hours finishing a tedious project, cleaned out the the crumbs and scraps of paper in my cube, ate some cookies and made a couple rounds of good-byes. I hit the lunch room at 11:30am to say so long to a handful of people who work in manufacturing, people I didn’t work with directly, but almost always talked to when our paths crossed. Their friendliness was something I could count on; even when we ran into some language barrier stuff, we marched on talking about the weather. Today, I sat down at a table next to Sisco, this great guy who’s worked at Rejuve for over 20 years. I told him today was my last day and that I was leaving Rejuvenation and even though we didn’t work together a lot I was glad to have gotten to know him. Sisco thanked me and wished me luck and then as I was walking away he said, “Is your name Liz?” This is a guy I’ve said hello to almost every work day for 4 years and he got the company email that said “Liz” was leaving. I just laughed and said, “Yep, that’s my name”.

I got to know some really fine people during the 4 years I worked there and I will miss their company for sure. It was such an agonizing decision to leave. I almost teared up a couple times saying goodbye.

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as david bowie said: ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

July 28, 2010

I cooked up a storm the other day. I roasted beets and roasted chicken with garlic in olive oil. I boiled new potatoes, sauted some fava fresh beans, made a vinaigrette for two heads of lettuce that I cleaned and tore and I simmered a big bunch of collard greens from our garden in white wine and chicken stock. I think I started cooking at 6pm and got done around midnite, although I did stop to eat along the way. Everything turned out super tasty too, which is a relief, because I’ve had a number of mis-steps lately. I’m mentioning all this because spending all that time in the kitchen – twice shelling the favas, marinating chicken, cutting cleaning 40 leaves of collards –  it was like I had my old me back, meaning that for many, many months I’ve been missing some vital part of me that included getting lots of joy and meaning from being ambitious in the kitchen.

Ever since my dad died I thought that the me I was missing had gotten done in from grief, but I’ve come to realize that I was letting my job rob me of that part of myself. So I’m going to try a new approach on the inside, something a little more sane and balanced, I hope. And a new point of view on the outside too, meaning I’m leaving my current job and in short time, I’ll be starting up a  new job at somewhere new. I don’t talk about work much in this forum, a purposeful choice, but it’s a big change – self imposed upheaval – and that process is worth noting and sharing. Especially because it’s a bit of a roller coaster ride which I’ve been trying to notice that, how I move from fear to sadness to excitement, all in the matter of a couple hours and often generated only from whatever I’m mulling over in my head.


To Be Hopeful for Howard

January 28, 2010

I read Howard Zinn‘s The People’s History of the United States the year I quit the Youth Shelter, when everything in my life was all topsy-turvy and I was dealing with it by recording music down in the basement at Chateau Drink More and reading books I borrowed from Ned and Jim. After I finished the The History, I thought, wow, this Zinn guy is brilliant. How come I haven’t heard of him before? And I felt an urgent need to recommend him and his book to anyone who would listen.

When I’m feeling cynical, like I just was tonight, I like to remind myself that even in my relatively short life I have seen things change on an epic scale – the passage of the civil rights and the dismantling of apartheid – and Howard Zinn played a part in that. And when I think about that I am reminded that I won’t get the chance to play even the tiniest of parts in working for change now, if I give into the lure of cynicism.

To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places — and there are so many — where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory. – Howard Zinn


extend your hand

October 15, 2008

San Francisco is not my town. Not that I thought it really was, but the first few hours I walked around I kept saying to myself wow, this is great. It rocks here. And then the buzz wore off and I got that old familiar feeling of being out of place.  I marveled a little at how I keep thinking some where besides Indiana is going to sound the bell that I’m home. So far, I’m striking out.

There is something amazing about SF though, the way so many folks can live together so closely. The unconscious and inadvertent collaboration that occurs just to move down the street and get in and out of BART. Cities remind me that people do have the capacity to cooperate with each other. I think part of it is getting people out of their cars. Getting people in each other’s proximities, even if they avoid the face to face contact. I’d like to believe all those folks walking around and chatting into cell phones that seem attached to their ears are at some level aware of the mass of humanity around them. That it seeps in down through their skin or maybe up through the soles of their shoes and unbeknown to them it changes something inside.

I know I’m likely just talking exposure here, but we’ve got to start some place, right. For me it is impossible to be in a city like SF and not be reminded of suffering. Maybe if I saw it every day I’d feel helpless or defensive and that would give rise to the indifference thats stand between me and making meaning of my life. I dunno.  I had a job for thirteen years that was all about suffering and meaning. I’ve tried to carry that forward in my familiar and intimate connections working at being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day. It is messy endeavor.  And I imperfect in my practice.

This weekend in SF I was outside the ferry building and checking my messages.  I was sitting on the ground, leaning up against a column. I had my head in my hands and my phone pressed against my ear when a hand reached down. I tried to shake the hand off, but the holder just extended his or her hand closer. I looked up, but because it was sunny I never saw the face. Just heard the voice.  A guy saying, oh, you’re ok. You’re just on the phone. It’s a cheesy analogy, I know, but we can all put a hand out there, like that guy, or this guy John Records who works with the homeless in Petaluma, CA.

Give to COTS and take action to end poverty.



August 1, 2008

I’m confused and not feeling very sure about this process I am in. It is unlikely that ‘this process’ is really some finite thing with an ending marked by an event, like moving or embarking on a new career or getting married, etc. I’m worried that I’m fooling myself by talking about places and people being better fits when maybe really I’m just looking for some kind of answer, when an answer really doesn’t exist. I dunno that I am making any sense except to myself and maybe this is all a bunch of self indulgent clap trap and I should just find work that is aimed at alleviating other people’s suffering.


what matters

July 23, 2008

I’m eating my lunch, a simple potato salad and a nice tomato salad, and it strikes me that good olive oil is almost always worth the price.

Figuring out what’s worth what reminds me that I wanted to say I am committing myself to a fall purge in which I’m hoping to get rid of a lot of stuff — books, cds, clothes, the buttload of junk Rachel and I drug down to her basement, the detritus of my life in Portland. My intention is unclutter my living space and to have the things I own better reflect what’s meaningful to me.


the shape of things

July 18, 2008

This year is turning out to be a year where I really take a look at what gives shape and meaning to my days, and in turn to my life. I wouldn’t exactly call it an existential crisis, but that’s mostly because I’m not in a panic. If anything I’m more in a state of underwhelmed surprise, like “really, this is it?” The question I’m asking myself right now is: am I really down with the shape of my days, given that I have the luxury to shape them. I work and when I’m not working sometimes I do things that have some meaning to me and sometimes I just do things to take the edge off my loneliness and anxiety. I spend a fair amount of time by myself, which in part is intentional, to carve out the time and space to reflect, and to write and make music. But there’s also a hard swallow to all that alone time and that is, with very few exceptions, I don’t have meaningful connections out here. While I am part of a network of people here and that’s nice, the truth is I am not part of a community; I’m not in a deeper relationship; and I am far away from most of the people with whom I feel there is genuine understanding and the chance for giving and getting some sustenance.

It’s taken months of turning off the T.V. , not going to movies, not reading much, not eating a lot of crap and not just hanging out with whoever to see all this. But at this point I’ve got a pretty clear picture of what I’m doing with myself, literally and figuratively. And getting that picture flushed out has been accompanied by a fair amount of sadness, curiosity, and gratitude, some of which has been excellent fodder for this blog.

The other day I realized I might be coming to a place where I can start to let myself consider what now or what next.  I got a feeling that the what is mostly gonna be about me being solid enough in myself to take some bigger chances than I’ve taken before.  But we’ll see.  I know I gotta stay true to letting things unfold right now, even though I wanna rush ahead.  I need to seep letting things get stripped away so I can really see.

And it’s been a little bit of a surprise to discover how moved I am by art.

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how things change

May 9, 2008

It’s funny, for such a long stretch, nothing much was happening in my personal life and then all the sudden a bunch of stuff happened in a flurry and then it settled back into a new version of nothing much, where the revelations that were uncovered in the flurry changed things, some in a kinda big way. One change is that a girl I really like told me she really likes me too, which made my day. For all its complications, it is as straight forward as that.

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testing the waters

December 19, 2007

I’m never sure how personal I want to be on my blog, in part because I keep my feelings pretty close to the vest. In fact I would say I struggle to access them at times, which is some what of a different issue. But anyway, the other part is this is a public forum, and it’s easy to be misread, misunderstood, misinterpreted, or someone just misses the fucking boat, ya know.

Having said that, I’m going to test the waters a bit with something a little more personal. I’ve been thinking lately that I’ve kinda grown up to be the guy I thought I’d be. And yes, I said guy, and yes. I said that on purpose. When I was a kid I never conceived I would grow up to be a woman. Thinking that’s dissonant? Yeah, me too. I wanted to say that here because I’ve been living with this disparity all my life and been afraid to tell a damn soul. Ok, maybe I’ve told at least a few damn souls., plus I don’t need to over dramatize this.

I know many folks mistake me for a lesbian, and I understand why, but it doesn’t work for me. Lord, I don’t know how to explain, although I think the lesbians get it. But , think of the real lesbians ya know and then think of me, really. Think of who I’ve been with and who my good friends are. Something not adding up?! And it’s not like I want to transition either. Transition meaning become a guy, which is the trend out here. Fuck, for one thing if I was a guy everybody would just say I was a pussy. I’m not macho. I’m a geek who can only pull off looking tough, if I take a wide stance and keep my mouth shut. But the other thing is even as much as I envy male privilege, I don’t want to occupy that space or deal with those expectations. Soooo, here I am, the guy I kinda thought I’d be – dated alot of beautiful women, put out one rock record, am working with a bunch of other guys making things. Whew… got sidetracked in my mind with the revelation that except for women I’ve always aimed low, cause I wasn’t sure what I could expect from a world where I didn’t see a place for myself.

I know there are some people who don’t see a place for themselves and that fuels them to carve one out. Thus far I’ve not been one of those people, but I’m also a late bloomer. So don’t count me out.

I gotta eat some dinner.


i guess i was wrong

December 6, 2007

To finish up talking about the big changes, I’ll end with what lately feels like the biggest one. Rachel and I broke up in February. Four years ago I thought I found the love of my life. I guess I was wrong.

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