Books, Bohemia and Beaches

I am on the bus to San Francisco again, and just used the bathroom on the bus. Had to hold onto the toilet paper roll to keep from falling in while we bumped down the highway. Got splashed on, got back to my seat and pulled out that hand sanitizer.

“Once again, this bus is going to Saaaan Francisco. And your driver’s name is William.”

Fucking left the city! On my own! First time this year!

Feels like I’ve fallen in love for the first time. The intoxicating flavor of freedom.

I don’t even know where to begin. I’ll write this morning to start with.

Woke up with Jess in our tent. Went to “muster,” which is what we call our daily morning meeting, if I haven’t mentioned that before. “Muster at 6:30 am!” Skeletons of army muscle.

I packed. And I decided to get a ride from my team leader, because I realized that when you demand things in this program, they have to make them happen.

Metaphorical for life?


I packed a plastic bag of lentils, quinoa, curry, corriander, pepper and cumin, one clove of garlic and one onion. And stuffed that in my backpack.

I was taking two bags– my red bag for my clothes and my black backpack that I’ve carried everywhere with me this year (and literally slept on top of for this past seven months). But I realized that it was a hassle, and I really needed to try and get my life into one bag for traveling, not just daily use.

ONE BAG mantra.

And I realized that I generally wear clothes for three or four days straight these days anyhow, so why do I even need to bring a change of clothes for the weekend? One just in case, but socks and underwear are enough.

So I ended up getting it all into my black backpack.

What I always have in my black backpack, big pocket: Laptop (now covered in bumper stickers I’ve picked up over the past year, in lieu of a car bumper), phone, chargers, four books (even though I know I will come back with at least four more after this weekend, being in the classic beat bookstores). My yellow legal pad of # manifesto points, and then another yellow legal pad for writing letters on. And then I have my black folder, which includes all types of stamps, foreign and domestic, along with envelopes and college graduation records, etc. Then I have a pocket world map, and a planner that I try to use to organize my life, but mostly just write life notes into like the complusive writer that I am. I’ve also got my chunky headphones that everyone always loves, but I particularly love because that block other sounds out. And then right now I’ve also got a few newspapers I picked up at the Sacramento food coop the other day that I want to read today. I’ve also stuffed my leather jacket and my scarf in there, as it’s starting to get hot, but I know it will cool down at night.

In the smaller pocket I usually just keep my green canvas bag purse that my Mom bought for me in Lawrence at Third Planet. I keep my wallet in there, complete with a collection of fortune cookie fortunes. Then I also right now have my coffee thermos, Vick’s vapor rub (as I’ve started getting headaches again… it’s also snowing cotton out. I think I might be allergic to cottonwood trees…?) my black composition notebook and a pen, four backup pens and Caitlin Moran’s new novel from Sac public library, “How to Build a Girl” and the Tao Te Ching. Tucked inside the pockets of the purse I keep pepperspray, chap stick, mini flashlight and mini notebook.

So for this weekend I’ve stashed my extra gray sweater, a few pairs of socks and underwear and a towel for showers (hostels and the YMCA are the only places I take showers anymore. I really need to buy some flip flops– I am destined for hippie-foot) and yoga pants. Then I’ve got the lentils, quinoa, garlic, onion and spices tucked into my gray sweater.

In a smaller pocket up front I always keep my toothbrush, toothpaste, tea tree oil, list of things to do for the day that I never look at, broken mp3 player, semi-working mp3 player and then semi working ear buds that dual as phone earbuds and jogging headphones. I’ve got my USB attached to a keychain, along with my travel lock and keys. Then I’ve got my little glow in the dark elephant statue, tweezers and a plethera of pens and highlighters for backup. Because you never know.

Last few front pockets of my black backpack I’ve got my camera, floss, Dr. Bronner’s eucalyptus soap, sunscreen from the Ukiah coop, hand sanitizer, tampons, big flashlight for walking back to the tent at night, voice recorder, organic soap (because I no longer use the antibacterial soap that they provide in public restrooms). I’ve got my blue nalgene water bottle tucked on the side of my backpack. It’s got a crack in it, and leaks everywhere now. But what can you do.

And then that’s it. That’s what I carry with me daily, everywhere. Doing everything for the past seven months. Plus the food and clothes that I added in today.

And now I’m on the road.

So I’m on my way to San Francisco again, after a night of delays and lost dreams.

The past week has been absurd. And I need to write about in a funny way in an effort to not cry about it, so that’s what I’m going to do today.

Because, really it’s all pretty funny. With a few serious things that need to be researched and taken care of. But that’s why I’m running away this weekend.

I’m also going to be a bit of a tourist. I cancelled my reservation at a hostel downtown in the Tenderloin district. I had heard it was the best hostel in town from people in Sacramento, but I had also heard it was by some dangerous streets you didn’t want to go near.

And so I decided to book it anyway. I live out in a tent in downtown Sacramento on the river with everyone else who doesn’t want to fit into society. I thought I’d be fine– thought it couldn’t really be worse.

But then I researched a little more, heard lots of horror stories, but I still wasn’t sold until I found the wikipedia page for the district. If it’s on wikipedia, I am sold.

Turns out it’s got the highest rate of crime in the whole city, and is notorious for violent crime and assualt.

I looked up where exactly everything was in the city, and where I stayed last time I was in San Fran with Monica and friends.

And I realized that we had wandered down into the Tenderloin district when we went bar hopping that night.

But that was also the scariest walk home I have ever had in my life. I remember when we got to a certain intersection, there was a silence to the air– burglary alarm going off the only noise. And people standing the corners just staring at us.

I pushed on ahead of the drunken sloppy group, and kept walking with confidence. Because that’s what I felt like was the only way to get out of there without any trouble.

And so, I decided last night, that no. I don’t want to go stay in that area this weekend. With all the warnings online, and prior experience that I didn’t realize correlated to boot.

But what I do remember is that up by Fisherman’s Wharf, it was super touristy and felt easy and fun.

And so that’s where I tried to book a hostel last night.

But they were completely booked, of course.

And then, on a whim, on a gut feeling, I called three hours later, 10 pm at night, and got a new receptionist. And got a room.

So that’s where I’m headed now. North Beach, beatniks, bookstores, cafes and the beach.

Where I wanted to be anyway.

Another night of staying up late in the San Francisco hostel talking to my new roommates. When you stay alone, the experience is radically different than when you’re traveling in groups. Everyone wants to share their life story with you. I have to admit, I haven’t really shared my life story with anyone yet. And that’s why I can spend a night talking, but then the rest of the weekend is going to be completely mine.

My roommates– a transgender woman from LA and a Boston MA student from China.

Bought two books today, and had another one fall in my lap.

Spent too much money. Going to spend the day chilling out tomorrow.

I’m sitting on a black leather couch. Periodically laying back on the big, colorful pillows while I read and glance out the window at the ocean.

The windows are all open, slightly chilly ocean breeze blowing in. I’ve never stayed this close to an ocean before. Still don’t understand them at all, coming from the centerpiece of the USA.

Anyway. I’ve been lounging and reading for the past two hours. I got back from town around three to put this massive burrito in the fridge. Who would have guessed I couldn’t finish my lunch today? I wouldn’t. Thursday when we went to the Mongolian grill together as a team, and when I realized we got as many bowls as we wanted– I went up for three refills. While the other ten people on my team couldn’t even finish one bowl.

But that burrito today– it was the size of two Chipotle burritos– but packed even tighter. There was egg, like a loaf of egg, and then a couple whole avocados, and broccoli, and peppers and onions and cheeze. And then a mountain of potatoes next to it. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Not buying anymore food in this city, though. It is way over my budget. I can coexist and drink coffee and eat my lentils.

Speaking of coffee, before I posted up in my private lounge– I went to the hostel cafe to get a refill of organic coffee in my thermos. And the guy at the counter was making all sorts of ridiculous jokes, the kind you do when you are bored out of your mind, and are looking for people to play with. And he gave me the coffee for free. I was loitering around waiting for him to ring me, up, but then he was like, I don’t give a shit. Just don’t tell anyone.

Free coffee at the seaside hostel, after a very expensive day in town.

So what I was trying to explain at the beginning of this blog post— because I booked the hostel room literally the night before I got here— within 15 hours of arriving, I got a four person female room off to the side of the hostel– an addition. And it’s got it’s own kitchen and lounge with six huge seaside view windows and a coffee table, couch, lamp, spinning globe, plants, tv, and lazy chair. And it’s just for my room and the room next to mine– 8 of us out of the 70+ people staying here.

And no one else is here because they are out on the town. And I’ve been politely declining offers to go out. Maybe some other time whenever I don’t have a team of ten to go back to on Monday. This is my time right now, and I am taking it.

Still feeling guilty– that just goes to show how much guilt issues I have. I feel guilty for not spending the day with complete strangers that I met last night. I can’t hold all the lost souls hands in the world. I can smile and enjoy you for twenty minutes while we inspire one another, but after that I’ve got to do me.

My teammates have all noticed this all year, and love to talk about how much I love new people. And it’s really true. I don’t know how to explain it. Maybe there is a deeper reason than being awkward that I was never able to stay in the same friend groups, or stay in relationships. I just like to move, and I like to see what else is out there. And for me, that is comfort. Knowing that I am exploring it all, at my own pace. Some people get lonely when they don’t have the same people to hang out with all the time, and I get lonely when I am around the same people all the time.

I don’t really know how to explain it better than that. It’s something that I am still figuring out. But it’s a legitimate thing to think about. And I think it all ties into being a writer as well. I want to hear as many stories as possible, but I don’t really want to become your story. I want to float around the fringes, free.

I want to meet and be around as many people as possible. But I’m learning to let go of that guilt that I need to be more than I am for them.

I am a loner, that’s why you like me. So let me be a loner! Just because we get along well doesn’t negate the fact that I want to be alone the majority of the time. And if we actually do get along, you’ll understand that. If you don’t, then you aren’t really interested in learning and being around me. You just don’t want to be alone.

So I’m taking a break from reading, and peering out the window as I listen to music and go through my emails. My tennis shoes off, and my free coffee being enjoyed.

Thank you, Mr. Barista.

And thank you, quiet hostel booked on a last minute whim.


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