31 December 2010

Christmas 2010

18 December 2010
As predicted, I could not wait to get home and cry to my mother. In my mind, I was going to unload as soon as I walked out of baggage claim. And my mom was going to make it all better. Only (like so many other things) it did not go as planned. My mommy was not there to pick me up at the airport, my brother was.

Derek came with Toyya the lady friend, not to be confused with Sianneh, mother of my nephew. Derek drove Toyya and I in a direction he thought would lead us to a road that would get us toward my mom's house. Yes, all three of us had GPS-enabled smart phones, capable of navigation. But it took me a while to realize he honestly had no idea where he was going. Once I fully remembered the anomaly that is my oldest, younger brother, we were both on the road and heading in the right direction.

My mother's house is not home, in that I didn't grow up there. Still, it's a place that houses people who love me. And in that respect, on that day, it felt phenomenal to be home. I suppose it's just the feeling of feeling loved. I mean I always know it, but seeing my little sister too excited to figure out how to unlock the door was (dare I type it) precious.

Dayana was super happy to see me, and her reaction was contagious. Donnell, the nephew who could not be bothered on the cruise, was at least friendly. I know he's my nephew, but I may make him my nemesis. He's a little too spoiled for my liking. Anyway, that first night home, I ate, I laughed, and I took pictures. I told my mom the latest in my life, and I think she was visibly disturbed, which made me sad. If my mom was upset, who was going to tell me it was going to be alright? We sat and we looked at each other with tears in our eyes, surrounded by family and cartoons and laughing children. And we shook it off. It was just about Christmas. And we had everything, and everyone, we needed.

I don't know why kids do this, but it's hilarious.

Father & Son.

19 December 2010
I got a taste of life for my mom. It's chaotic. Honestly, it seems too chaotic. But I think it's probably easier than when I was little. I mean there is just one Dayana to get ready for school, as opposed to a Danie and a Derek. Although there is a Donnell, who plays a great mini-Derek. So it's probably 1987 with Wi-Fi. Kids are scary business, and certainly not AM apropos. Once the kid was off to learn, my mom and I went to Dunkin Donuts. It's an East Coast treat for me, and we can walk there from the house. Doubly awesome.

When I'm at home, I enjoy just being there. People ask "what did you do," and I say "nothing." Mine has never been a family of explorers. My parents both drove hours to get to work. And they both had jobs that required driving. When we were home, we were home. We watched TV, sang songs, played games and all kinds of regular things. But we didn't take driving trips to places for no reason, which (for some reason) I feel other families did. When I was home with my mom in late 2010, we didn't do much. And then Abby came to visit.

Abigail lives in Virginia, which is close enough for a jaunt. We see each other once a year if we're lucky, and even then, Tab has to get married to make it happen. Abby is a rare friend, one who crosses worlds. She was with me in Minneapolis in the pre-blog days when my first car (Epe) was totaled by a senior citizen with an itchy trigger foot (though no fault was ever determined). Abby also helped me surprise my mom a few years ago in Baltimore. Abby knew Dayana when she was a small, noisy one year old, and she saw her again, as a garrulous five year old. Abby is family and I love it.

Abby & Dayana, 2006

As usual, Abby was a big hit with the kids. Dayana wanted to tell her stories. Donnell wanted to go through her purse. And in true Abby form, she did not mind. We sat on my mom's couch. We ordered food and ate too much of it. We talked about the future and how life had changed. I imagine it's what's implied by "we had a nice visit." Then Abby was gone.

"Open it?"

30 December 2010

The End of The End

And now we come to it, the last transgression.

I take pride in being fair when I write, in presenting the arguments and in not writing from anger. Still, I cannot deny there is hostility in my heart. I carry a rage against XBFJ that stands in direct conflict with all of my well wishes. I want him to be happy. I want him to find something he loves to do and I want him to be successful at it. The ugly truth is I also want to inflict pain upon him. I would stand beside him against most others, because I am fiercely loyal. But once all foes were vanquished, he would still have me to fear. It's as honest as I can be. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let me bring you to where my feelings reside.

17 December 2010
XBFJ came over to get the last of his stuff. He rented a car and I sat in it as he went up to my place, took the liberty of looking around, took further liberty with my snacks, and loaded. We went to his place, where he unloaded. All the while we talked about life and how different it was and how we might interact in the future and how it was going to be odd, but manageable. As he was bringing me back to work, he (as delicately as he could) told me about his new girlfriend.

It was a kick to the gut. I wanted to vomit. He asked why I was angry. The truth was, I wasn't. I wasn't crying out of anger. I was hurt. We were together nearly eight years. Four months later he has a girlfriend. Excuse me, one month after he's out of my apartment, he has a new girlfriend. Obviously our relationship was not as remarkable for him as it was for me. And that had always been an insecurity of mine, that I loved him more than he loved me. My fear had been that he was using me. On that night, it was realized. I saw everything differently. I felt the fool. And as punishment, I let the feeling come.

I replayed everything through a different filter. Remember how I'd felt sad for him, making this decision? Remember how I'd worried about him. Remember how I tried to explain his reasoning for dumping me? Remember how I told people not to wish him harm or actually harm him?

Mister "I need to stand on my own two" was already horizontal with (and admittedly inside of) someone else.

I felt insignificant. He told me he didn't like hiding things from me, that as friends he wanted to be honest. To his credit, his timing was proper, since I was about to go home for Christmas. He knew I would want to cry to mom and he was right. It's unfair that he knows me like I thought I knew him.

He maintains he never used me. Kate doesn't think he did either. But the evidence suggests otherwise.

Exhibit A
He says he didn't want to be with me for the last year. First of all, is there a reason to tell me that? Really? I mean if he'd already decided to be a deceptive secret keeper, it seems like that's something he could keep to himself. He didn't want me before Joel came to live with us. Seems like he made that decision right when he got a job. Read: I was adequate until he had his own income.

Exhibit B
He knew what he didn't like about us and he did not make a serious effort to fix it. To him, we were not worth saving. He didn't let on to me what was bothering him. He says he thought he would be able to deal with it. Forever. I have a role in this. It takes two for a relationship to fail. I don't blame him entirely for the problems we had. But if I had known how he felt, I would have done things differently.

Exhibit C
He moved on really fast. Adam and Amber met the new girlfriend. Six weeks after the initial dumping and three weeks after he said "we're broken up," he introduced his best friend to his new gal. He says (when I bring this up to him, because I do) that I don't know the circumstances. I don't see how they're relevant, though I would be all ears if he wanted to share. He does not.

The Anger Arrives

When you really think about it, while we were sharing an apartment, there was already someone else. When he refused to give me back his keys, there was already someone else. When he came over and expected me to help him pack, there was already someone else.

And we mussn't forget the lies. The "I need to work on me." and the "I have to learn to be a grown up." It's worse because I fell for it. I felt sad that he was so confused, that he had to be alone to sort things out. I felt sad that I couldn't help him.

You should know after all was said and done, he would tell me it was actually all my fault. That he started drinking because of me, that I was a miserable person and that, try as he might, his angelic attempts to make everything right weren't enough for the monster that is me. (Adjectives added but the idea is the same.)

In processing this, I found myself embittered. I found he was a stranger. He was a man who had come into my life. He was someone who used me and discarded me. It is a horrible feeling to know you really tried and that someone could forget you so easily. It's a wretched, wretched realization that for a year, you were the only one invested. I was a fool. He made a fool of me. And though I have forgiven, there is no forgetting that.

So I write with venom because it is deserved. For half truths and full lies, for disrespect and blame that is heaped when it should be shared, I am venomous.

What bothers me most is that it's not fair. I wanted to be in love. I wanted to have someone. I wanted to be touched in a familiar way and held as special. And he gets that. He gets to be loved not once, but twice over to my zero. Because now I don't know if he really loved me. He who wanted to "stand on his own two" gets what I tried to have. And of all the things that I have to come accept, this is the hardest. It's not because he doesn't deserve it; everyone deserves to be loved. It's that he said he didn't want it. And I did. I do. And I'll have it. I know that. My time with Jesse is over. I'm more than okay with that.

Based on my new list of criteria, he wouldn't make the cut anyway.

29 December 2010

XBFJ to The Rescue. Seriously.

8 December 2010
Angie is a busy, busy woman. One minute she's here, and the next, she's on her way to New Zealand. Two nights and one day after she arrived, she was off again. We said goodbye after her pedicure and I went to work. I gave her a set of keys in case she wanted to go wandering San Francisco in the rain. A few hours later, her cab came. I met her in front of my apartment building to say goodbye and get the keys. We had already decided I would be visiting her next, so there wasn't a whole lot of sadness. We're professionals. I then went back to work and enjoyed an uneventful day. I came home, checked the mail, smiled at a new Real Simple magazine, put my key in the apartment door, turned the lock, twisted the doorknob and froze.

It was less that I froze and more that the knob was not turning. I started begging.

"No, Ang. No."

Little known fact, we never got keys to the doorknob of this apartment. For two years we avoided that by not pushing the button. I never told Angie about the button. It never occurred to me because I live my life as if that button were invisible. But it is visible. And it is pushable. And it is logical that someone would push it for the sake of safety. There was no reason to be mad. And I wasn't. But I was locked out of my apartment at 11 at night. I notified the proper entities: Angie, Facebook, XBFJ.

The reality was XBFJ was the only person I knew in this town. He was the only person who knew me, what I could & couldn't and would & wouldn't do. I had to notify him of the situation in case I needed him later. Once that was out of the way, I considered, and executed my options.

Option One: Picking the lock
It's a stupid button. There is obviously some sort of tumbler mechanism involved, or at least some sort of spring that will release it. I tried every key I had. I tried to force a few too. I took out the tweezers and toothpick on my Swiss Army key chain and tried to get them in some kind of key formation. I searched my purse for any kind of gadget and came up short. I was not getting in through that door.

Option Two: Fire Escape
Two of my windows open to the fire escape. I thought I could possibly get one open. I packed up my purse (no idea why) and went up to the roof. There -- whilst wearing off-white pants and carrying a purse -- I proceeded to improperly climb down the ladder. Now you will say "Danie, you went to college. How can you improperly climb down a ladder?" I will tell you. The ladder is not flush with the building. It's about a foot or so away. In my mind, that design was perfect for keeping people safe. Clearly the intent was for people to climb down with their backs against the building, so they felt secure, in case they were afraid of heights. That made perfect sense to me, as I slithered myself (and my purse) between the ladder and the building. My opinion changed when I could not move my knees. I would have had to just slide to the next floor. That could not have been right. So I pulled myself back to the roof. I positioned myself on the outside of the ladder and was immediately aware of the gravity of my situation.

It was still drizzling, and everything was wet. I was wearing rain boots, great for puddles, not known for traction. I was about to climb down a wet ladder in the dark with the weight of a (heavy) purse on one side. I would likely die if I fell and it would be a long time before anyone would think to look for me behind my building. But I didn't see another option. So I proceeded. No one called the police to report the black person in white pants scaling down the back of a building carrying a purse. And I lived. But I could not get either window to budge. So I climbed back to the roof to alert XBFJ of my progress. It was beginning to sink in that I was going to need help.

Option Three: Hallway Window
I have a small window that's high in my hallway. It's accessible from the outside, but only the outside that's accessible from inside the building. It doesn't really make sense om your screen, but only tenants would have access to this window. This window gave me hope. It was open. I got the screen out. I could feel my apartment's air. But I could get to it. It was too high. I tried (in my rain boots, but sans purse) to stand on the railing and boost myself into the window. No dice. I tried standing on two stacked paint cans, but I was still too short. I remembered the abandoned, rain-soaked kitchen chair in the random area behind my building. I went and I carried it upstairs as quietly as I could. It was heavy. My pants were close to ruined. The chair was only an inch higher than the two stacked paint cans. I wanted to cry.

I stacked the paint cans on top of the chair.

I stood on the railing to boost myself.

I stepped off the railing, onto the paints cans and I pushed.

I got an arm, my head, and a boob into the window.

Everything collapsed.

That chair had apparently been soaking up rain for years. Its metal was rusted and its everything else was ready for disintegration. Two paint cans + one Danie did the trick. And there I was, dangling as quietly as possible, trying to find the strength to walk myself up the wall and into this window. I had almost forgotten the coat hooks waiting there like teeth to devour intruders. They would not get to gobble me though. I couldn't get myself into the window. And for a while, I couldn't get myself out either. Panic set in briefly, but I'm too practical for hysterics. In fact that practicality is what pushed me to ask XBFJ to help me.

I told him that I figured it all out, and that I would just need to hold him while he climbed inside. He asked if I should be the one climbing inside. I reminded him who was who, in terms of risky physical adventures. I asked him to come help me break into my apartment.

He hesitated.

I told him to forget it. I could hear he was at a bar seven hours before having to be at work and I got the impression he did not want to leave. I remembered that he'd said he'd help me whenever I needed it. Apparently he did not. Just as I was mentally vowing to never offer or accept so much as a kind look for all of eternity, he said he'd be right over. I think he ran. He showed up, my bloodshot and breathless knight in dirty clothing. I held his legs, warned him of the teeth-hooks and boosted. He fell with an ugly thud. I mean I didn't throw him, it's just that he to scale down the wall.

I was home, thanks to him. I offered him water and snacks but he said no. And like a super hero, he was gone. I felt good, knowing he was out there, in the event of other mishaps. I wasn't entirely alone. And that's a great feeling.




Pre-thud Prints.

28 December 2010


7 December 2010
I did not take pictures of the rest of the remodel process because (believe it or not) it did not occur to me to do so. But there was a lot that happened. I assembled a bookshelf properly, despite what those extra pieces would lead you to believe. I changed that orange couch we found on a sidewalk in March of 2009 into a brand new white sofa. I opened that TV I bought on Black Friday. I got rid of the TV I bought in Fargo and the kitchen table XBFJ wanted to chop into firewood. I recycled and trashed anything that could be spared. I simplified and took stock of everything I had and of what I really needed. Apparently I don't need much. I assembled and tidied right up until the very first moment of life after the BU: Angie's arrival.

Adventure Time!

Though it's perfectly fitting, it's actually a coincidence my oldest friend was there at the start of whatever was about to happen. I knew she was coming, but had honestly thought I would have been over the BU by then. I thought I would have had some sort of a new life, four months after the deal wet down. But I didn't. And looking back, I see why. It took XBFJ a full 90 days to dump me and actually leave. It didn't seem like it was taking that long, because there was that month I convinced myself it wasn't really happening. And then Adam and Amber came and I don't know, I guess I just lived one day at a time. Redecorating got me excited for something fresh. I started to be ready to move forward. And that timed out perfectly with Angie's visit.

We really only had a day together. She arrived on a Monday night. I took off that Tuesday, so we could shop and talk, which is exactly what we did. Now that I think of it, it went really fast. We both dislike shopping and I think that helped. Angie & I are kindred. It's apparently apparent, as we learned in American Eagle.

We were there and I was browsing sweaters. I was still having fun buying things, as since we were in the store anyway, I saw no harm. I picked up a few and had them taken to a dressing room. When I got to the room, I obviously had to talk to the attendant. I don't know what I said to him, but in less than a minute, he said "you have good energy. I think there's somebody you should meet." And he brought me face to face with Angie. He (and I want to call him Elliott but that's not his name) said "you two have the same energy." I thought (somehow) that he was messing with me. I said "like we met the 5th grade and have been friends for 20 years energy?" He was confused. Angie & I laughed. It was a reaffirming moment that we really didn't need, but were glad to have. We're awesome. And we spent more than an hour there with the attendant and Emily, the co-attendant. Perfectly Random.

We crossed other things off the to-do list, finding Ang a pedicurist and eating at the Cheesecake Factory. We intended to go ice skating but the whole business is apparently dominated by private parties. Dinner was as good as it always it. We got to really talk about everything, hopes, fears, family, doubts -- everything. We went for a long walk and had a great night. My world was new again and I was happy Angie was there.

27 December 2010

Kings vs Mavericks

04 December 2010
I think there is a part of me that has an aversion to capitol cities. I never went to Harrisburg when I lived in Pennsylvania. I never went to Albany when I lived in New York. It took a bit of cajoling to get me to Bismarck, though I did go. I never went to Carson City when I lived in Nevada. And it took more than two years in San Francisco for me to hit the road and head to Sacramento. And I only went because Melissa the Producer had tickets to a basketball game.

It was my first drive to see her. It was my first NBA game. It was exciting. We ate the usually stadium food and had the usual, better-than-good seats. I learned that the Sacramento Kings' mascot is a lion, though I did not learn why. And if you were to secretly call them the Sacramento Kings of the Jungle, you would not be alone. Just saying.

If you've been to a basketball game, I have nothing new to tell you. There were fans. There were points. There was disappointment. There was a nice dance show put on by dozens of little kids. We sat behind a loud and unfunny heckler. We got boom sticks that didn't do much but make a mess. We took our sports-outing-of-the-month picture. We laughed.

Dancing Kids.


I really like this picture.


At the end of the game Tyreke Evans (I'm almost sure it was him) threw his sweaty headband into our area. I found that to be disgusting. Alas, I was alone. People were excited. Melissa (thank goodness) didn't touch it, but she took a picture. We ended up encouraging these drunk guys to take it, only to feel crappy moments later when a kid came over looking for it. I still don't see the appeal. But I know very little about basketball.

26 December 2010

Home Improvement

Late November / Early December 2010
The time came to get to work. Much like updating my blog, painting my apartment was a task I wanted to do, but couldn't bring myself to start. And then it just happened. I bought paint. I bought brushes. I bought a ladder. And if I'd had a friend, that friend would have taken a picture of me carrying that ladder home from the hardware store. I was (for some reason) dainty about it, carrying it in the crook of my arm, like a very long and heavy purse. I'm ridiculous. And I digress.

This is about painting, which I actually did. Naturally I made the process infinitely more difficult that it had to be. My apartment had white walls with a recessed ceiling and white trim. If you recall the green draft protector I bought (and here's a picture even if you don't), you can see why. There are all kinds of shades of green and brown involved. While someone with less ambition might have picked one color, I picked two. I decided to paint the walls green and make the trim brown. It was going to be so pretty, in a grown up way. I didn't start to regret my decision until after the tape was up and the paint was on the walls. By then it was too late.

It's not that anything was wrong with the plan, it's just that the green would have looked good with white trim. I had originally gone against it because I was planning for white furniture, and I didn't want the room to look too sterile. I don't know if that makes sense, but that's how my brain works. The only pictures I have are the ones I sent to Kate and my mom, charting my progress. Not pictured was the absolute mess that was my living space. I still had things to give away. I had books and no bookshelf. I had things I had found on Craigslist. Everything was disheveled because my life was disheveled. I was sleeping in a clearing on my bed, much like a hoarder. I had to step around things and on top of stuff just to navigate my estimated 600 square feet. Again, if I'd had a friend, that friend would have taken a picture of me trying to move that ladder from place to place. It was unnecessarily difficult. But I think that made the reward that much sweeter.

Bit by bit, what started as an idea for a distraction became a lovely reality. I dare say I did well. The better it looked, the more I wanted to do. So the more I did. After painting the living room, and the trim therein, painting my bedroom was a joke. It felt like it took no time at all. Once again the color choice was superb and I giggled with pride in myself. Once again, the more I saw what it would become, the more I wanted to finish it. And painting was just the tip of the iceberg.

Bedroom draft protector.

Bedroom trim.

More living room.

And a little more.

I also made a trip to Ikea. I did my research. I knew what I wanted. I knew what I was willing to spend. Yes, I thought to furnish using just Craigslist, but it's I am one person. I can't lift or transport a bookcase. I'm not even going to tell you how I got my new desk. It was not what the kids would call "a good look." I would have loved to have gotten used stuff for less money. But I had trouble finding what I had already decided I wanted. It was frustrating and it was December and I was ready to be done. So I went to Ikea. I bought more than I planned, but eventually made up for it with returns.

I also had good cause to go to the container store, where I got a close up look at the damage San Francisco has done to my car. Do you see those door dings? I am not going to say I did not inflict one for every one received, but I can't think of anywhere else where this is acceptable. It's just what's to be expected here. I even have touch up paint. I just can't think of why I would use it.

So in the span of one week, I painted and I shopped. I created a ridiculously cluttered living situation, just for the fun of having t0 clean it later. But just as I was about to put it all together and realize my vision, I had urgent business in Sacramento.

25 December 2010

The Move That Wasn't | Thanksgiving 2010

22 November 2010
I maintain moving is the worst thing people choose to do to themselves, aside from drug addiction. I've hated every move I've made for one reason or another, and after the BU, I could not bear the thought of adding a move to my list of lamentations. Still, I couldn't very well sit in our apartment, pretending his mark wasn't on everything. So I decided to convince the senses I had moved, with as little actual moving as possible. I designed the apartment I wanted. I gave myself a budget. I created a spreadsheet. I downsized.

I can't begin to explain the stuff I had. I can't begin to explain why I had the stuff I had. I had apparently gotten so wrapped up in keeping things organized and stored, I lost track of what I was storing. At the end of November, I went through every box and every folder, removing what was not necessary and questioning everything I decided to keep. I sold a few things but mostly gave things away through Craigslist. Purging felt great. I gave people good stuff to use, while creating much needed space that was all mine. And as the old vanished, the new appear.

I tried to go area by area, finishing one room before moving to the next. But it didn't quite work out that way. I was addicted to buying. As soon as I was sure I was seeing what I wanted, I bought it. I kitchen items. I bought storage benches. I bought a few clothes. And then it was Thanksgiving.

Storage bench. Worth every penny.

I tried to not make it the most depressing Thanksgiving ever. I went to work, where nearly all of coworkers spent the holiday. I took part in the traditions I had missed the past few years. Of course I would have rather been in Devils Lake, eating too much and marking Black Friday deals. Still, I really got a kick out of these turkey treats from my general manager. He passed them out as a thank-you for working on Thanksgiving. I gobbled mine before taking a picture. Fortunately someone had a little more self control.

Dinner. It was really good. I had two of three types of pie.

And then, ladies & gentlemen, I did it. I did my first, proper Black Friday shopping. I woke up at two in the morning. I drove to Target. I waited in the cold for almost two hours. My goal was to take in the experience, and to walk away with an HDTV. More than once I questioned my decision. I promised myself several times I would never do it again. It was just dumb. People were out there improperly dressed and with children. Families were devising strategies. We were all after the same TV, and there wasn't much else to say but "head to the back." It took ten minutes after the store opened for me to actually get inside. I followed the crowd to the TVs and saw the last of the biggest deal go to the woman in front of me. No, I did not need a 40" television. That was obvious in the fact that I didn't get one. I got a smaller, more expensive option and was free to shop. It turns out Target at 4 in the morning is still Target.

I bought Pyrex. I bought towels. I bought groceries. I browsed. I bought sheets and a router and everything else that had been on my list. I called my mom, so we could discuss the futility of my Black Friday adventure. All the money I saved on that TV went toward something else. The adrenaline wore off as I got warm, and I found myself getting very sleepy. I may have kept my composure, but on the inside, I was whining. When all was said and done, I had spent nearly five of my precious sleep hours driving, standing, spending, driving, parking and unloading. It would be months before I would say the ordeal was worth it.

24 December 2010

More Friends & More Footbail

20 November 2010
The last two weeks of November passed in a blur. It was time to start thinking about going east for Christmas and time to not think about not going to North Dakota for Thanksgiving. I accepted every social invitation that came my way, and there were a couple that were great. We had an overdue goodbye party for a former coworker (not pictured). I got to see a few of the people I worked with during my first year in San Francisco. We had a great time opining changes in our industry and wondering what could still be on the horizon. We ate too much. We drank too much. We all left smiling.

That was followed by watching my dear friend Melissa the Producer be horribly disappointed.

21 November 2010

I'm going to offer a recap for the sake of clarity. There are two Melissas in my life, Melissa the Producer and Melissa the Reporter. I worked with both in Vegas. Melissa the Reporter moved from Texas to Vegas, while Melissa the Producer moved from Vegas to Texas. They are two people, both brunette, both (what I would call) short, both love sports and yet still have silly, girly sides I don't quite get. But like I say, they are two people, though I have only found one picture (from 2006) that has them in the same place at the same time. Melissa the Producer is on the left, Melissa the Reporter is next to me, and that extra 85lbs I was carrying that year. I felt this clarification important enough to show this picture. So please take note.

Melissa the Producer was born in late November. And in late November 2010, we went to a 49ers game. Melissa the Producer loves the 49ers. At this point in the season, they still had playoff hopes. I mean the whole division was a joke, but the 49ers were still in it, bless their hearts. MtP (yeah I'm going to do that) has a man friend, @yowhatupt. Yes, he has a name. But in my mind he's @yowhatupt, because that's how I e-met him. There are people who see me and call me "Danie D." I take it a step further and actually say "at yo what up t," but that's because I like to be proper. Face it folks, these are the issues that will be coming up as social media continue to shape our lives. I'm just the harbinger.

Most of the above was just so I could say: "@yowhatupt bought MtP tickets to a 49ers game for her birthday," and have you understand. I hope it worked, because that took me weeks to compile. As he was unable to attend, I selflessly offered my services, as friend and co-game-watcher for the afternoon. I know the true meaning of friendship is accepting tickets to sporting events. I'm sure that was in a holiday special of some sort.

It was a beautiful day for a football game. We made our way up to the deck on an old, overworked escalator. Melissa put her bare hand on the railing, which I found to be straight icky.

"Don't touch that. I don't know how often they service these things." -me

And the escalator stopped. MtP is convinced it was because of my tempting of the fates, and I am inclined to agree with her. But it was funny. Even funnier -- for at least ten seconds -- the dozens of people on the escalator just stood there, as if waiting for it to start again. We ended up walking. But there was a moment when it seemed like we were going to wait there in silent demand of our right to be lifted to our deck.

Once inside, we got garlic fries and made our way to the. Best. Seats. Ever. Score one for @yowhatupt, which was more than the 49ers would do for themselves. We had seats with letters. I didn't even know stadiums had seats with letters. We had a great view of the field. We had a great view of the people whose seats came with a wait staff. We were in plain sight of the Gold Rush Girls. And I have to say, they are not awesome. I am not a cheerleader, but I know what they're supposed to do. It was as if the Gold Rush Girls had all practiced separately, then met up for the game. And the game was so awful, we had little choice but to watch the girls. Or to do whatever these people were doing.

Neena and Tiffany were there too and joined us in our awesome section after halftime. That improved the situation, but only temporarily. The 49ers just could not seal the deal. And on the day we were perfectly poised to see some incredible end zone action, they did not score a single point. They owe MtP an apology.

23 December 2010

All Signs Point To A New Life

When I was little, my mom used to say things like "the spirit told me." Actually it's not in the past, it still happens. My mother has always been sure the universe and the spirits within say things and send signs. I used to roll my eyes at it. But one day...
I went to work with my mom and she was bothered. The "spirit" was warning her about Derek. We drove from PA to NY and halfway through my mom's shift, she got a call. Derek had been detained for stealing a golf cart. And during the tirade that was to come my mom kept saying "the spirit told me something was up with Derek. I knew it." I became a believer.
So I look for things. I listen to feelings and find comfort in whatever may be a message from the universe. Such a message appeared on my fire escape in mid-November. Specifically, it was in the pot that housed the remains of my once glorious sunflowers. They all died right after the cruise (a sign unto itself?) and after I cut all the dead stems, I left the pot outside. Let's be honest, the fire escape was the most organized area at the time. One day I looked and lo and behold:

See it?

There they are.

I had sprouts! two teeny spots of green in that giant pot of dead and decaying flower parts. Naturally they could not stay outside. It was November. It had been cold and it had been raining. Honestly I don't even know how those delicate little leaves found their way out of the dirt. I don't even know that they're sunflowers, since I don't remember seeing or planting any seeds. That had been my intention, but bees and wasps had loved my sunflowers, and I had given them their space. I will not make that mistake again; I think those bugs infected my flowers.

My takeaway was, from the most miserable of cold and icky conditions came fresh and healthy and sprouts. A stronger metaphor could not have slapped me in the face. I received the message loud and clear. I myself was ready to sprout.

22 December 2010

Separation Anxiety & Being The Change

After those two nights of raids at the beginning of November, I had come to expect there would be gradually less stuff in my apartment until XBFJ was all gone. It's not how I would have preferred to do things. We still had not sorted a lot of stuff and I was afraid I was going to be left with things that were not mine. I know the perception was that I had tons of stuff to my bohemian counterpart's bare necessities. But that not the case. The dude liked old things. He likes old clothes, vintage gadgets and tech tidbits. It's not that I thought he would leave his police scanner behind, but he did have a spare keyboard of mine dangerously close to a pile of his stuff. Now I suppose just taking things when I wasn't looking was a genius way to avoid debate. However, after two nights of "what did he take this time," it became a moot point. He didn't come back.

There were no raids Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. By the time I went to the Raiders game with Melissa, I was worried I was going to be stuck with the things he thought he didn't want. He said he would come over that weekend and get the rest of it. But when I called him Sunday night, he nonchalantly told me he was drinking, and would get his stuff some other time. I had had enough of playing second fiddle to the bottle. I was ready to move on with my projects and I didn't want him showing up at my apartment whenever he wanted. The point was to have a place that had no association with him. I could not get that while he was still able to pop over at his leisure. I told him I was coming to his job for key forfeiture.

8 November 2010
I had a busy morning, snagging stuff from Craigslist and debating colors at the hardware store. I visited XBFJ for his lunch break and suddenly he wanted to talk to me. It could have been just seeing me. I know seeing him was like getting a fix I didn't know I needed. It calmed me down, made me feel less alone. He wanted to talk and I wanted to listen. He said he was having a tough time. It had nothing to do with the break up; he said he actually felt better without me. (He could hold seminars teaching how to hurt feelings and crush souls. It's like a super power he wields effortlessly.) No, dumping me was (apparently) uplifting for him. He was having a tough time with his move. And I felt for him, really. I mean it was all his own doing, and if he had talked to me ahead of time I could have helped him. But remember, he was his own man, standing on his own two and making dumb decisions. As a result, he refused to forfeit the keys. I tried to insist. But he was having a really bad week and somehow I felt like a bully. He agreed not to come over when I wasn't home. I took him at his word and I was satisfied.

10 November 2010
Two days later, XBFJ walked me home from work and came over to pack the rest of his stuff under my supervision. It was cute, he actually thought I was going to be what he called "helpful Danie," and pack and label as I would have, had he still been my BF. I watched him. I stood by his vehicle as he loaded and I tried not to be sad. I wanted it to be over, but I didn't want it to be happening. He was sad too, which made me feel better. He promised we would be friends and that it would get easier. And then he drove away. Upstairs, the apartment was as empty as it had been that first year when we had nothing. Everything seemed to cause an echo. It was a fresh place to start.

13 November 2010
I have to be the change I want to see in the world. In mid-November, I decided I wanted to see friendships form. The people I worked with in Vegas joined the ranks of my best and closest friends. Two years after moving and one year after changing shifts in San Francisco, I could not think of a single social outing amongst my current coworkers. So I made one. We went to the Mission Beach Cafe for Saturday brunch. Our party was large, the restaurant was packed and I should have had a banana beforehand. We stood outside for close to an hour, in typical San Francisco fashion. If you haven't been here, a lot of the best places are the smallest places. And as with Dottie's, Brenda's, Mama's and (to some degree) Tony's, there was no space to wait inside. That was okay, because the sun had come out and we enjoyed a rare, sunny morning in the city.

And then we enjoyed huge mimosas. Here you see my lavender infused french toast with bourbon syrup and side of brunch potatoes. It was promptly inhaled. Everything was delicious and everyone was pleased. I don't know if we got to know each other that much better, aside from not having elbow room but it got the ball rolling. I named myself social coordinator and promised we would have more gatherings in the future. Time may show us we don't even like each other. But we at least deserve to know.

Documentation, proving the hugeness of the mimosas.

21 December 2010

The Election, The Animation & The Raider Nation

2 November 2010
The best part about November is that it left no time for being crippled with grief. The Giants won the World Series. And then it was Election Day. If you haven't worked in news, I can't describe it. It's exciting. It's confusing. It chaotic. It's stressful. It's the best we know how to do, right after breaking news. It's all encompassing. It's about passing the time before the results come. It's wondering what we get to eat, and how many treats we convince ourselves it's okay to have. It's about working together and getting everything right. Election Day is the best and worst day to work. That's why it only comes every two years.



I didn't talk to XBFJ that day either. But when I got home, more stuff had been taken. Again, I couldn't bring myself to step into the living room. But with my clearer head I did start wondering. I had questions about where he lived and who had been in my apartment to help him move. The place was a mess and even now I shudder to think some stranger saw it that way. I wondered why he wouldn't communicate with me. I wondered that was going to be our new reality. I wondered how I was going to get the keys back.

5 November 2010
November tried to redeem itself by pouring on the fun. I got my most important purchases on Friday. These two pillows came from Scotland. I probably paid too much to get them but at that point in life, money did not matter. These pillows were to be my inspiration. I was planning to move without packing, by changing the apartment. I was going to make it mine. I was not going to be reminded he used to live there. I was not going to hear the emptiness every time I walked in the door. These pillows showed me how. Getting them was essentially the green light to start my own next chapter. And I did not waste any time.

6 November 2010
I began my redecoration project. I gave myself a budget, created a spreadsheet and start (more) shopping. I found a desk via Craigslist that would not fit in my car. I thought to take it apart, but it was just too complex for that. Fortunately the seller was a) really nice and b) had an Outback. She ended up following me home to drop it off. I got it upstairs all by myself. It wasn't pretty - for some reason I refused to put down my keys & purse first. But I made it. I had made my first solo furniture purchase. And even though there was still so much of a mess it had to sit in the hallway, I thought it was a great sign of moving forward. I had no time to marvel though, I had a date with Pixar.

I've mentioned I was shopping. But I should also mention there was no rhyme or reason to my purchases. I bought a french press, mostly because it was green. I bought clothes. I bought those pillows. And I bought a day at Pixar Animation Studios. It was a benefit for the Cartoon Art Museum. For a lot less than I would have paid to go, I went. It was another incredibly awesome occurrence I had to experience alone. But that's nothing a life sized cartoon can't cure.

The Incredibles. Giggle

The bottom floor of the studio was open for pictures. The second floor was not. I understood that, there was intellectual property strewn about the walls. Still, I asked for and received permission to take a picture of (with) The Incredibles. I wanted to capture their size. But I also wanted to stand with them. There was no way to do both.

Me & Mr. Incredible. I had to stand on my tippy-toes.

Now he's looking at the camera.

Mrs. Incredible & I. Happy times.

"There's no photography on the second floor."

And I was busted. Do you see her? She's waving a finger at me and yelling across the building. That's right. I got yelled at within 15 minutes of setting foot on the Pixar property. I suppose, when it comes to cartoons, I am a rule-breaker. Or not. I really did have permission, it was just not from her. Too bad for her and her rules I had already gotten what I'd come to get.

I can't describe how fun it was in there. Aside from the life sized characters, there were doodles and drawings and original design comments everywhere. Just the pieces they put on the walls showed how much detail goes into every single aspect of every shot. These are successful, legitimate adults who (possibly) love cartoons more than I do. Swoon. I tried to absorb it. I tried to hide in an office until Monday when someone would admire my dedication and make me an animation apprentice. But security is tight. The compost bin was my only option and that just didn't feel right.

I watched some shorts films and walked slowly through the lobby trying to make sure I didn't miss a thing. Someone offered to take my picture and the day was made. I felt awkward, and my posture shows it. The place was full of families and couples. I was thrilled to be there though, alone or not. Still, there was a part of me that couldn't shake the loneliness. Eventually I left, because there was nothing more to see. I also wanted to park before it got to be too late. I also stopped in Target (just for cash to cross the bridge) and somehow spent $100. I don't know how that happened. Okay. I do. But I had good reason.

7 November 2010
That same weekend, I got tickets to the Raiders / Chiefs game. It actually turned into a brouhaha amongst friends. I immediately thought of David, who is the biggest Raiders fan I know. But he lives in Vegas, and I got the tickets two days before the game. So I never entertained the idea of bringing him. Instead I asked Melissa, because she's my sports buddy. The thing about Melissa, she's a 49ers fan. This did not sit well with David. He was greatly offended that I would take her to the Coliseum. I really think he would have preferred I go alone rather than take a 49ers fan. His outrage ran deep, or at least as deep as the situation could seriously allow. He offered to fly up just for the game. And he was serious. But Melissa was down to go.

And when I say "down to go," I mean she agreed not to wear 49ers colors, but stopped short of wearing Raiders' gear. Her rules stated she would not cheer for the Raiders, but she would also not taunt the Raiders' fans. I recognize her courtesy was born of fear. The Raiders have the most passionate fans ever. I firmly believe that. Even if they lost, speaking ill of them could have gotten us hurt. So I respected her reverent indifference.

It was a cold and rainy afternoon, seriously meant for curling up on a couch and watching football from under a blanket. But our seats were good and our neighboring fans were respectful. Melissa got to see Raider Nation in it's full, foul mouthed, passionate glory. We heard parents chant insults laden with four letter words, with no consideration of the kids present. We saw impassioned stomping that honestly must have been exhausting. We witnessed a pass so ambitious, Melissa actually said "yeah right" as it was released. It was also completed. The Raiders tied, then won that game in overtime. The Coliseum erupted. It was amazing. And I'm so sure Melissa was glad to have been a part of it.