Sutter Street

March 7 – March 13

Sometimes the 2, usually the 3. Both Muni lines run along Sutter Street and begin at the stop right in front of my office. Stormy evenings, hot stiff afternoons– I’m there. When the twilight descends over downtown, I’m usually right at the center of the magic.

For 15 minutes I get to see such funny, livening sights. Usually I’m alone, sometimes I’m riding with my neighbor who lives next door in #6. Don’t think he likes me very much. I don’t see him tonight, relieved instead that I’m rewarded with the presence of a great Doberman who’s finding it hard to sit near the back of the bus. Dogs disturbing the peace– that’s OK. Humans, no.

The first distinctive fuss you directly notice is the students crowding the dorm entrances that belong to the Academy of Art. Some are smoking and others just sit on the stoops. A few migrate to a block down where Matador Tequileria is, always projecting old Latino films on its outer walls. There’s a liquor store on every other corner that students might scatter to for their quick conveniences, a reminder that in one of them last spring a bunch of your colleagues split the tab between two mini bottles of whiskey and one of Bailey’s just for myself. What a colorful night that was, strange and exotic for an idyllic night out consuming mini scotches, exotic like the the names of the apartment buildings I pass: Belgravia, Lucerne, and Commodore.

The bus moves along and the dog, men in suits, women carrying burlap grocery bags filled with papers drop off at their respective stops. Where I go, it’s beyond downtown, the cable cars and Nob Hill where the Tenderloin can barely spill into its streets on the uphill slant. The halfway point lies at Cup O’ Joe coffeehouse, an ugly name but not in the slightest an ugly spot. I’ve sat there a few times, once alone and another on a Sunday afternoon where I shared a table by the window with a friend who had happened to walk in for an afternoon spent reading. They have the best beer deals too, $3 until 10PM. After that is the The Carlton Hotel with its red neon sign jotting vertically out onto the air, but whether it really is a hotel or an SRO I’m fooled. Both blend with each other so well in the inner-city. Land is priceless in the city, especially the closer you are to the hub of Union Square. That doesn’t make any of it more beautiful. The beauty flees and all of a sudden I don’t like it when we pass Halstead & Carew & English. I know that it’s the thing to cross your fingers crossing a cemetery, but does the same apply to mortuaries? I don’t bother to find out, I just keep doing it. Keeping safe and sound in the mind, that’s beautiful.

Lastly there’s the little things that give me a sign of home, any comfort of home. Places and moments that are inviting and give the sense of peace where at times this crowded bus may wreck my composure. If only one day I could act upon these feelings, like stepping off at Polk to get my hair cut at the hole-in-the-wall salon that looks straight from the 80s but more exotic with all the lush banana leaves growing about and around each stylist’s stations. Across the street is a dirty supermarket where out of its black doors comes a frail old woman who looks back, waiting for when her grown daughter can finish paying and help her lift the grocery bags in her two small hands.

The bus I take along Sutter Street is only 15 minutes long, and when I just want to be home, I’ll find myself faced with odd little pleasures that find home in a disgusting, concrete strip. And it’s a very alive, very beautiful thing.

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Petrichor

February 29 – March 6

Shitstorms happen. And we need them to happen.

For these past two weeks it’s been surprisingly gorgeous. Blue skies, a smudge of humidity in the low 60s, the rising scent of tattered wet newspaper and spilled trash bins. Uncommon for March, but lovely. Lovely for a night to be had for wine nights and a rooftop dinner in the Mission with your closest friends. And why not follow it up with an art gallery opening?

But as you know when great plans are anticipated, they somehow backtrack. Starting with the rain. It didn’t swell in the earlier part of the day when I was in North Beach, only in my Uber ride on the way to El Techo did it worsen. Upon shaking off my bright yellow umbrella of dew and hugging my friend in the line to the elevator I didn’t know how much worse everything would get. The warm faces quickly regressed into worried looks. My good friend’s phone and wallet were stolen. To have your personal items take off with the Lyft that had just sped off is a panicking situation. And reaching the Lyft via my other friend’s phone was a joke. How we wished all of this was a joke right now.

What unraveled from the rooftop to a living room with two police officers at nearly 2 AM was just a part of a night no one asked for. We didn’t ask for a phone to be stolen away, for a windy tumultuous night stranded at the Balboa Park BART station amidst the heavy rain while someone out there was satiated by the 15 bucks spent at Mission Burrito in no solemn thanks to my friend’s credit card. I sat in the Uber we managed to call on my way to my friend’s apartment in soggy shoes and tights clinging to my legs, sad and defeated in how the night had brought us to here. But giving way to Murphy’s Law, in spite of our hopes for a lovely reunion anything did happen. Anything but the night we had in store.

Then the most amazing thing happened. We were warm in a bed of white sheets and a sun glaring from behind a bookshelf where rays peaked through the spaces where the books weren’t tall. I was tired but at peace. There were still sips of Earl Grey tea left in our mugs and my friend had traced her phone, cracked, abandoned at SFO airport. Recovery of that, and our composure over so much disbelief at the storm and fatigue and lack of help from authorities over the long night, was finally having its effects.

Perhaps the morning is all you ever need. We’ve come into the clear and the storm has subsided, and the air sure smells great with the disaster of the night lingering for true reconciliation. I guess, from all this, things you don’t expect, and don’t want to happen, find their way into your weekend to realize that was just what you needed to remember those that dance in the rain with you.

 

 

Unseen

May 30 – June 5

One night you plan on going to sleep when 11 PM hits and then you’re hit with something else. Your uncle, only 7 years your senior, is in a cab and on his way to your apartment with the intention of sake bombs and karaoke somewhere secret and still open in these late hours of Japantown. I get my jeans back on and grab my keys to head out the door and into the uncertain night where we end up singing Journey with Australians, enjoy half a dozen takoyaki, and mistake Bump of Chicken as a menu item at Mogura rather than the name of a prominent Japanese band. It wasn’t a Wednesday night I was expecting, but for a small chance to immerse myself in the closest way I can to a late night in Japan, I was up for some more fun.

So when I went out to San Jose last weekend I was expecting many things. A weekend away from the city, seeing old friends from college, experiencing a city all over again that had once held so many sentiments for me. San Jose is where my two friends are at law school, where my childhood spent in the back of my dad’s sports memorabilia store in East Ridge Mall was played out, where there are fields where I used to sit on their sidelines and watch my ex boyfriend coach children after school hours. It’s not the place where I thought I would be in a car crash.

The accident happened in the midst of a Friday night, 2 AM or sometime after it. In N Out, Denny’s; we were all scoping out our options for soaking up the gin and tonics and fireball shots we’d taken together down in Santana Row. Squashed in the middle, you might be a bit annoyed at the limited space but hey, you’re the smallest of the group. At least there’s a seat belt. You’re all about safety, and it’s a bonus if the middle seat has a shoulder strap rather than just across the waist. Your friend isn’t as paranoid as you, and you make him strap on his just as he hesitates to reject your warnings out of playful spite. A few laughs, a steady speed past an intersection, still not sure about what to eat– and then it all hits.

There are people in my life now and things that have happened where years back I wouldn’t think much to where we all are now/ what’s going on currently. In that moment in my life I was speechless, sandwiched, and thankfully unharmed after what seemed like a sudden stop in everything, time especially. It stopped, and just long enough to really think about, well, damn. This just happened, and you never really think that this, accidents, happen. And not with the people you particularly find yourself stranded on the side of the road in a wrecked car. Old friends, college friends; the girl you sat next to in your your 5PM nonfiction class the first semester back from being out of school for half a year to alleviate financial burdens, the guy you first saw when he was the only guy actually to last the whole freshman spring in the Jane Austen class of 20 girls, and later borrowed quarters from in the laundry room sometime in that same year. I’m still stuck by these people, and never did I think upon our first encounters this is where we’d be nearly 7 years later, dazed and freaking out that not only were we all just hit from the side– but that the man who did was just taking off right then and there, and speeding off into the night with his horrific pleas of forgiveness for not having a license falling deaf on our ears.

Things happen, things change. The future is the only real direction we have about this vast void of life. Try as we might to “live” right, there’s no real understanding of our existence, of plain old why live. And in that we try to make life meaningful by our own definitions, create a future that varies for each person. Except one thing that remains inevitable: future, for everyone, is uncertainty. It’s a scary thing, and yet it’s just as strange and beautiful. You find yourself staying out late nights with family or friends. Sometimes they’re people you didn’t think would stay long in your life or the last people you could see yourself be with. You don’t look to a particular person and think about how you actually might have save their life too.

We don’t think about these little encounters or people we come across, but now, now I will. Who knows what future I shall continue sharing with the people in my life right now, and who knows what amazing things might still happen and even better, what people I still haven’t met yet. Or even in the littlest things, like a prayer card for Saint Gabriel, those who are always besides you unseen, but caring– saving you as our driver was saved when his head hit right where the card was plastered, to his steering wheel.

It’s all shocking really, but you find yourself smiling. Even if you’re tired, even if you’re still in shock and cold and stranded on a road. And still hungry for In N Out.

Have you ever thought about the future of certain things in your life as they come into it?

 

 

ANNOUNCING REX: WORDS WITH A MECHANICAL FRIEND, ON SALE NOW!

When you have words to say, they’re not meant to be kept in a drawer.

A lot of my recent work from this past year has experienced this doom. They’re not the finest words I’ve produced, but they’re raw, simple, and capture various moments throughout that strange transition seen in 2015 when I first moved to San Francisco and went through a breakup. I like writing nonfiction, and even more so when I accomplish it in less than a page. Say what you need to say and don’t dance around. And it’s no dancing you won’t see with this new book of mine, Rex: Words with a Mechanical Friend, that hit shelves last month!

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There are 45 pieces published in this collection, photographed in various places around my apartment where all of them were written. As for Rex, my typewriter, he’s a difficult collaborator when I need him anywhere else and he’s pretty loud– loud where I slow down my typing to a bolero-like patter that takes almost an hour to compose less than half a sheet of words. But he’s made this possible, and there’s just something more endearing about words you’ve written in analog fashion. Typing versus my regular writing is a force of really hitting the notes hard and in one try with everything you say. You can’t go back and rephrase it or fix anything. It’s all there, unforgiving and beautiful– preserved on one page that feels surreal to hold in your hands.

Here’s a few works that you can find in Rex. I’m so proud to be giving them a rightful home here:

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TheNightstandEssay

OpenYourEyes

Read these and more in Rex, now! Available here for purchase.

Rex Floral