SF Life

Last Night I Saw Andrea Gibson

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and I made this for her

Last night I saw Andrea Gibson and it was as if my entire existence lead up to that moment. I stood toward the back beside Lauren with no one in front of me. I held on to her nonstop throughout. I had the clearest line of vision and the perfect amount of distance. Any closer and I think her words would have punched actual holes through my chest. I remember holding my breath for the longest sentences and only remembering to exhale when she stopped speaking.

I first knew her through her love poems and I was pleased to hear some of those. However, the most important thing she does is dismantle the patriarchy and educate about white privilege among other topics. I loved every second of the roller coaster. It was painful and I laughed. It was lighthearted and I cried. It was so important. I felt like Jack Kerouac the first time he heard Howl. My heart was beating out of my chest as I was constantly drawn out like a long thread.

I am rarely so inspired, but I have never been more discouraged. I felt meaning and passion and at once worthless. I don’t deserve to breathe her air. I don’t even deserve to be here (actual thoughts). Then panic: I have nothing important to say with my art. I may be talented, or whatever, but I don’t do anything important with my work other than indulge my own feelings. Seeing performance about social justice and things that matter really puts you in your place.

It left me changed for the better. I can only hope to become part of something much, much larger than myself. No, I can also try, even if it hurts. After all, if there’s one thing we know, it’s that it hurts to become.

First Day of Being Un-Sick in San Francisco

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the view from my kitchen sink

Preface: I am back in San Francisco. It makes sense that it’s after midnight and I have decided that yes, now is a good time to begin writing a blog entry, as I sip lemon water out of a plastic quart container (this is what happens when you live with chefs).  Actually, I have been back in the city for over two weeks  but illness (among other things that are required for restarting your life) have kept me from this blog.  For the sake of energy and time and everyone’s patience (mostly mine) I am just going to skip everything that has happened between October and now. The reader’s digest version is that I made it to San Diego, had a wonderful time, then made it to San Francisco, and have been severely ill and very busy ever since. Here it goes…

Today I left my apartment four times and I was wearing a different outfit each time. I woke up in a bed, which was a nice start. Josh was at the Eagle’s Nest last night so I was able to forego my yoga-mat-and-blanket-on-the-floor setup.

I woke up feeling well for the first time in 15 days and started to make coffee, as I do every morning, regardless of how I feel. Zach (my other cousin, other roommate, and brother to Josh) asked me to make him some coffee.  This is never a problem. We have a 5lb bag of Flying Goat in the freezer.

“When do you think you want to roll out?”

Oh yes, that’s right. Zach has the day off and he is tagging along with me while I run errands. My errands are very specific: obtain work clothes. For those of you who don’t know (and also for those of you who were curious about how finding a job would be for me) I am happy to report that despite being severely ill, I managed to find two jobs in 10 days. But more on that later. The point of today is that I needed pants, and shoes. Zach just wanted to go out and do things. We packed our bags and walked down Market Street. This time I left the apartment wearing dark grey converse, blue skinny jeans, and my tie dye On the Byas hoodie.

I usually avoid walking down Turk toward Market even though it is the most direct route. It’s not that I feel unsafe, I am just generally risk adverse and I hate confrontation, even if it’s just a crack-head asking how my day is going. I also really like my shoes and I wanted to minimize their contact with garbage. But because Zach is with me, and also because fuck it, it’s my neighborhood too, we headed down Turk.

Not even a block in and I am immediately reminded of why I missed this place. There is something about side-stepping people staggering and begging for change, playing dominoes, smiling, cursing, frowning, listening to boom boxes, smoking, and dancing to the voices in their own heads that makes you appreciate your own position in life. These people are my neighbors and yet they are worlds away. We have nothing in common and yet we are all the same. We need the same things to live. I mentioned to Zach at one point how I love living where we live. Mostly because I love the reaction I get from people when I tell them that I live in the Tenderloin (*incredulous exclamation*) and then I think of where Maria is, and I just laugh.

We first have to stop at Burger King so Zach can buy a milkshake and a hamburger for breakfast. I’m good though because I had coffee and some grapes and a banana with almond butter.

Next stop is the Gap. I bought two pairs of pants, both on sale. Zach bought jeans, and socks and spent twice what I spent. I am working on teaching him my frugal ways. Then we were looking for shoes. We went to all the places. No shoes for me. I went to H&M and got a shirt then I successfully resisted the urge to go into J-Crew. Zach finds shoes at the Vans store. Still no shoes for me. I am feeling desperate so we go into Ross and I end up buying a pair of passable shoes that I hate because of the desperation. But there is still a vague sense of accomplishment upon leaving.

We head home after this and we are all excited like children on Christmas to try on our bounty. I put my outfit together that I plan on wearing to this art show opening this evening, and much to my dismay, I  notice that my pants are actually too short. Naturally, I decide to return them. Right at that moment. But not before I have a “snack” which ended up being the most ridiculous SF-food-snob-hippy lunch that was ever created in the history of ever. It was so ridiculous that I had to Instagram it, and not even in an ironic way.

I am ridiculous.

I am ridiculous.

I had a red quinoa salad that I made the night before. It includes chickpeas, celery, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, purple onion, avocado, lemon juice, salt, pepper, olive oil, and thyme. With it, I had some grapes that I got from the farmer’s market yesterday and some Acme bread toast with hummus. It goes without saying that everything depicted here is local, organic and vegan. I’m too much. Just stop.

Surprisingly Zach offers to go with me to return the pants and doesn’t let on at all that he thinks it’s completely weird that I need to go take care of this utterly non-urgent non-problem right away. He is just the best. I allow this, and we take the same route down Turk street. There are many more crackheads out at this time though but we dodge them along with their gestures and debris. Because I was trying on new clothes, I just left on the outfit I was wearing which was the same converse, but with light grey jeans, a black button-down and my grey bowtie. Perfect for exchanging clothes.

Now we are back outside on Powell street and it’s such a beautiful day. It’s really hot. It is too hot to be wearing a black button-down and jeans. In any case, I am not entirely ready to go home yet. Since we are near Union Square on Powell,  I decide to tell Zach about Lush. Obviously, he has never heard of Lush before because he is a straight male, but a secret about Zach is that he loves taking baths. We make the trip up and on the way I find a shoe store that actually has what I want. I literally walked in, saw the shoes, tried them on and bought them. It was a moment of “angels singing.” The rule is that, when you try something on and it’s like angels singing, you buy it and you don’t care how much it costs. They weren’t even that expensive because the saleswoman who helped me was exceptional and upon finding out they were for my new job, she extended a 30% discount to me.

Finally at Lush, Zach is impressed. I encounter another exceptional salesperson. He was so friendly and approachable that Zach actually thought I knew him previously. We bought 4 bath bombs.

My cousin Thor learning the wonders of Lush

My cousin Thor learning the wonders of Lush

For the second time today, we head back to the TL. We’re back in our apartment. Did I mention Zach was also doing laundry this entire time? Yeah so he changes his clothes between outings. Now that I’m back in the apartment, I am happy about the shoes, and the pants, but I am still stuck with this awful pair of shoes from Ross that I hate. I hate having things that I don’t use or don’t want. Therefore, I make another snap decision to return them. Like how I handle most of my decisions, I plan to carry it out immediately. Zach surprisingly offers to come out with me a third time for no reason. I know he thinks I am crazy. Again, he does not give his true feelings away. I offer to buy him a coffee at Philz in exchange for his companionship. He agrees and I leave the apartment dressed more appropriately for the weather this time: different converse, same grey jeans, t-shirt, and my SF baseball cap.

We leave Philz with two large cups of Jacobs Wonderbar but this time we take a different route. We make it to Ross and I return. I am now something like $26 richer and buzzing like hell from caffeine. I feel awesome. I have literally had the most productive (although not entirely efficient) day shopping. I am in such a good mood that I gave $5 to a homeless looking woman who was asking me for food. I looked around frantically for a food place to get her something to eat, but in the end I just decided to trust her that she would spend it on food and not drugs. Sometimes, you just have to have a little faith. I regret nothing.

I was feeling so good that on a whim I went to the Levis store as a pure fantasy. I could never afford anything here. Their jeans and clothes are amazing, but entirely cost prohibitive. I am feeling very high from coffee and sunshine and life so I just float inside. Suddenly I am in some secret-ish looking back room that reminds me of a walk-in closet. I discover this is an entire room devoted to clearance. Oh girl. I found a pair of red trousers for $22. I don’t even think you can buy socks at the Levis store for less than $20, and also since when do I wear colored pants? Well, ever since I found this magical Narnia wardrobe in Levis I do. I tried them on and the guy who helped me with the fitting room told me they looked “ok” and maybe were “a bit long” and that is the precise moment when I knew that I had to have them.

For the third time today, we are on our way home. We wander back through the dirty sidewalks with all of our things and accomplishments and all of our good feelings.

“What time is your art show?”

“Like 6pm.”

“Am I invited to that too?”

Yes of course. Why didn’t I think of this? This Seibro adventure can continue well into the evening. After all, I was just planning to go by myself and be awkward. But now I can be awkward with company! Also this girl I met on OKC (I want more gay friends) wanted to meet up in the Castro and I didn’t realize until that moment how much more appealing that sounded with Zach. I haven’t met her in person before and it might reduce the awkwardness a bit if I know someone else there. Moreover, what fun-loving straight man wouldn’t want to go hang out with a bunch of Softball-playing lesbians ( plus me) in the Castro? Right?

Zach borrows one of my ties and we are off. I am in my final outfit of the day: Sperry’s, new red Levis trousers, Oxford shirt, black blazer, blue bow-tie. Perfect for an art opening. Especially one about graphic design. I meet up with Astra who is stunning as usual. She is wearing purple tights that match the purple tint-fade in her hair. She has a camera strapped around her neck and a big smile beaming through extra large purple plastic frames. She is just how I remember her. Quirky and perfect. It has been so long since I’ve seen her and it is great to catch up. We are there for exactly an hour. After I meet Justin, the curator, and pitch him my idea about showing my work, he suggests I grab an application. Essentially my pitch went like this:

“I paint large scale abstract portraits of women. I do this personally for a record of my feelings about these women, and also because I think there needs to be more large-scale representations of women by women everywhere. Men do this all the time. This is important because I think this is important.”

He agrees with me 100%. I am going to be in a show. I still have to fill out the application, but Justin assures me they never turn anyone down so this is good news.

We leave just before the drawing robot performance begins. I am not really into it though so it’s not a big deal but I feel like I should mention that that was happening. I meet up with Ashley at Hi-Tops, the only real sports bar in the Castro. Meaning, this is the only sports bar that actually shows sports on the televisions and not gay porn. I am way overdressed for a sports bar, but because it’s also a gay bar, I weirdly fit in as well. I do take off my blazer to play shuffle board, though. Ashley doesn’t drink which is great. Zach orders some Bullet Rye and Ashley buys me a  ginger beer that’s from Australia. It is delicious. She also has plantain chips and trail mix. This might actually be the best day ever. Ashley and I win shuffle board because I am good at trying new things and she is a very good sporty lesbian. She has a cool job that requires her to be up early but also outdoors and wearing a hard-hat and Carhartt pants. She is a different walking cliche than I am, but a walking cliche nonetheless. I appreciate this about her.

Zach makes friends with the woman next to him, meanwhile I am asking Ashley a series of personal questions. This is something I tend to do when first meeting people now. Another vestige of traveling. After you have the same 20 small-talk conversations for months and months you just get tired of it. Fortunately, Ashley is totally on board with this accelerated acquaintance making and we actually have some really deep, sincere conversation. My favorite. Of course, she does have a job that requires her to be up early, so we decide to call it a night.

In between bouts of Rye sipping and Clash of Clans, Zach calls an Uber cab which the three of us take to Civic Center BART, then to Pronto’s Pizza. I get nothing because, duh, I have snobby quinoa salad at home, but Zach orders two slices and ends up getting 5  because he tipped the guy 50%. Which is a lot like ordering more pizza and tipping like a normal person. After one final romp through the TL, we make it home and I am, as I mentioned sitting here sipping my lemon water out of a Tupperware container.

Sometime during the art exhibit I made the decision that I was going to revive this blog. Not just revive it, but just use it as a space to post and share what I want to post and share. I know this entry is very “#iameatingasandwichnow” but #sorrynotsorry.

Today, I wanted to share a step-by-step about what I did and wore and ate. I’m trying this new thing where I just do whatever I want for no other reason than because I want to do it and offer no explanation as to why. From now on, this is important because I say it is.

And so concludes my first day of being un-sick in San Francisco.

the end.