Steve

Today I found out via a text message that a former boyfriend died suddenly Thursday night from an as yet unknown cause.

He was in his 50s.

Far too young to die.

Long ago, when we first met I was madly in love with him and imagined that we had a future together.

But it was a long distance relationship and he seemed more happy being single than being with me for the long haul so we parted ways.

I’ll never forget when (nearly a decade later) he added me as a friend on Facebook.

Bold, I thought.

But Steve was always bold and daring.

And smart as a whip!

We managed to meet up a few times and catch up on the latest and greatest in our lives.

He took me on a sailboat ride around the bay and we ran out of gas.

Literally.

Ironically, neither one of us knew how to sail properly at the time.

Despite that, I had a lovely day on the water with him.

I took pictures and blogged my trip, for which he suggested the title “Fucking Steve!”

I will remember him as the strong, invincible, highly intelligent man I knew him to be.

If I know Steve, he’s in Valhalla celebrating his eternal soul with a beer and pretty ladies while telling stories of his amazing life.

micro burn

This past weekend I had a socially distant burn at a nudist resort in the Santa Cruz Mountains and I had a blast!

The better part of the weekend was spent laying out by the pool in the sun watching naked people frolic in the water.

Of particular interest to me was a beautiful African American woman who brought her pet snakes with her and was often seen with a large albino boa wrapped around her body.

Things you just don’t see in the default world.

That’s why I love Burning Man.

Mentally, I’m always having to check myself and see if I’m in reality or a dream.

The wildlife was out and about during my stay and I saw (among other things) wild turkeys, deer, raptors, jay birds, finches and raccoons.

Of course, at the real burn there would be no wildlife, other than the burners who attend.

Burning Man is held on a dry, flat, alkaline lake bed and as such is really incompatible with life.

No, it wasn’t the same as the 80,000 person burn in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, but it still held the mysticism of the Burn for me.

Because Burning Man is more than just an event in the desert.

It’s more than the Ten Principles used to guide it.

Burning Man lives in the hearts of the people it has touched and whenever two or more burners get together, there’s magic that happens.

Hugs are abundant as is authenticity and connection.

And I’d say my Micro Burn had that in spades.

Etsy for the win!

My home buffet for birds and squirrels has been a grand success.

The neighborhood ravens are smart and “dig” through the birdseed to find the peanuts which they fly off with.

I’d taken to putting all the peanuts in a pile on top of the birdseed so that they could feast without making a mess of the birdseed.

Just pluck a peanut from off the top and head out.

My buffet was inspired by my friend who rehabilitates ravens.

I like to call her “Mother of Ravens.”

The other day while perusing etsy, I found a beautiful stained glass necklace of a raven and I had to get it for her.

Little did I know that it was going to take nearly three months for the gift to ship from the artist’s studio in St. Petersburg, Russia to California.

But it has finally arrived.

And my friend loves it so it was well worth the wait.

Etsy for the win, folks.

Nothing like a one-of-a-kind handmade gift to tell a friend their friendship is cherished.

Hiking Half Dome in Yosemite

Many MANY years ago, I hiked to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite with my friends Robin, Albert and Barry.

I figured I’d never be in better shape than I was then so I might as well complete the 18+ miles round trip hike and see the views from the top.

Me and my companions slept in and so we didn’t get a start up Half Dome until around 11 am.

Oh, was that LATE to start!

I remember as we made our way down the trail a mounted Park Ranger stopped her horse long enough to poke fun at us, “Nothing like an early start up Half Dome.”

Or some such nonsense.

Albert was not having any of her smart assery.

He mocked her for the next few miles.

Somewhere along the way, we lost Robin.

Her shoes weren’t gripping the terrain as well as they should have so she stopped at a rest area and read a book while the three of us kept on.

It was A LOT OF HIKING.

In retrospect, we DEFINITELY fell into the category of PEOPLE WHO HIKE HALF DOME TOTALLY UNPREPARED FOR IT.

It took damn near forever, but around 3 pm, we managed to reach the base of Half Dome.

If you’ve never been to Half Dome, THIS is what you see when you reach the base:

A rickety little “staircase” attached to the rock face, with periodic wood beams attached like stairs so you can rest securely on the rock.

One side of the ladder is people going up, the other side is people going down.

So don’t go thinking that you get the WHOLE ladder to yourself, now.

Albert blasted ahead, eager to get to the top.

I labored.

I’m not sure I would have made it up to the top at all if it hadn’t been for Barry who kept cheering me on and encouraging me to keep setting one foot ahead of the other.

Finally, Barry and I crested the ridge and arrived at the top of Half Dome.

This is us at the top:

The adventure didn’t end there.

Oh no.

By now, we were starving, having gone through our food and water, so we hightailed it back to Robin at the rest area and continued our climb down the mountain.

By the time we reached the valley floor, Albert’s knees had given out on him.

Even though it was a full moon, very little light reached us beneath the tall sequoias.

Fortunately, I brought one little rickety flashlight to guide us.

And EVENTUALLY we made it back to our car, back to our camp, and back to our lives.

It was QUITE the adventure and I’m so glad I did it.

I’m also infinitely thankful for Barry’s support getting up Half Dome.

Yes, we should’ve brought more food and water.

Yes, we were silly youngsters oblivious of the commitment it took to hike Half Dome.

But WE DID IT!

Bitch Slap

It was a relaxing weekend.

I did next to nothing ALL WEEKEND LONG.

That’s sort of par for the course, when sheltering in place.

I watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

And E.T.

I guess I’m in an 80s mood.

I also went to Rene home which he now shares with his new girlfriend.

I brought along a friend so I woudn’t have to drive all the way to Seaside by myself.

The food was delicious, but the company was extraordinary.

It’s always good to see old friends.

Especially ones you can tease mercilessly.

What most people don’t know is that once upon a time, when Rene was married, his wife bitch slapped me for twirling my hair.

Apparently, it was a pet peeve of hers.

So she cracked me one right across the face.

This story gets told time and again to all of Rene’s girlfriends.

Each time, they are shocked.

Rene’s new girlfriend was suitably appalled on my behalf.

And you know what?

I twirled my hair in front of her and guess what?

No bitch slap!

That’s a win in my book.

I should be so fucking lucky

Hi!

I’m back.

Literally NOTHING is going on, though.

Work continues.

Sheltering in place continues.

I’ve managed to sneak out of my house for a date or two, but THAT’S ABOUT IT!

This weekend, a dear old friend Rene is hosting a small barbecue with his girlfriend.

I’ve opted to invite a friend to come with me so I don’t have to drive alone to the party which is in Seaside.

It should be a lot of fun.

Rene is very good at food in general and barbecue in particular, judging from his last get together.

Also, he has spare bedrooms so we can stay the night without worrying about driving that treacherous Highway 17 late at night after 2 beers.

Anyhow, all this is to say that I’m going to be meeting Rene’s new girlfriend for the VERY FIRST TIME and I’m excited.

It’s not every day that I get to meet Rene’s new girlfriend.

If luck would have it, they met right before lockdown and moved in together soon after so I’m very intrigued to see who has won over his heart so quickly.

He literally invited me over “their house.”

Isn’t that sweet?

Yeah, I thought so too.

I should be so fucking lucky.

Stepping out

As the world slowly reopens, so does my social life.

I actually stepped out a few days ago and enjoyed coffee with my friend George.

I was so excited to hug him, I nearly burst.

It was as awesome as I imagined it would be.

We sat outside Starbucks and chatted mostly about piercings and tattoos until he had to take off for a date.

Then yesterday I met another friend at Starbucks and what was supposed to be a 2 hour coffee date turned into an al fresco dinner at Oak & Rye.

Also, VERY GOOD HUGS!

I find myself jonesing for hugs now ALL THE TIME.

All in all, I’ve had a pretty good time emerging out into the world again.

My dear old truck with 246,000 miles on it needed a new battery so I took care of that today just as my kid’s sedan and my mom’s mini van broke down and had to be taken to the same auto shop.

I keep forgetting to bring a mask and I’m stymied as to why because it’s one of those things ingrained in me to do at Burning Man.

No matter where you’re going or what you’re doing, you always have a mask close at hand JUST IN CASE there’s a dust storm.

I’m just not used to planning that far ahead in real life.

It was enough of an accomplishment that I remembered to shower, do my hair and makeup and put on rea clothes (not just another pair of pajamas) to go out in.

Didn’t I look cute?

Happy re-emerging to all of you.

Can’t wait to get a pedicure!

It’s good to be seen

Tonight I’m thinking of my dear friend Andrew who was murdered by his ex-girlfriend in 2001.

I met Andrew on my first day transferring into a new kindergarten.

We never stopped being friends and kept in touch through high school, college, medical school (for him) and marriage (for me).

Another friend Jon once described Andrew as the kind of person who when he walked into a room, everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

He was charismatic.

Funny.

Charming.

Occasionally, I dream about Andrew and I ALWAYS realize I’m dreaming when he makes an appearance so I get down on my knees and start crying telling him how much I miss him.

He always stands me up, hugs me and then chats with me like old friends catching up.

Today, my mother spoke with his mother.

It’s something they do occasionally so that isn’t remarkable.

What is remarkable is that my mom is working on organizing THOUSANDS of old photos into albums and the next picture she plucked from the pile was a picture of Andrew with my dad and I.

Probably a picture from the last time I’d ever see him in person, although that detail only occurs to me now as I write this.

I took the picture, studied Andrew’s face, realized that the picture was taken in the very room where my mom told me he had been murdered.

The very room I was sitting in now.

Waves of nostalgia came over me and I found myself playing back images of him and I in my mind.

Him BLASTING “Top of the World” by Van Halen as he burned rubber out of his high school parking lot after graduation.

Listening to grunge music while playing pool at Andrew’s house.

My visit to see him in Irvine when we were in undergraduate school.

I attempted to relieve the sadness inside me by opening up my phone and scrolling through Reddit.

Lo and behold, the documentary about Andrew’s murder popped up in my reddit stream and I paused before watching the first 15 minutes of it.

I don’t usually watch that movie unless I have a bottle of wine, tissues, and at least a day to recover from my hangover.

The circularity of life is amazing.

I was supposed to think of him and remember our friendship.

And so a toast to my friend:

“There are good ships and wood ships,

Ships that sail the sea,

But the best ships are friendships,

May they always be!”

SoulFire 2016: The Heatstroke Chronicles

white witch michelleMaybe it was just me.

Maybe everyone else did just fine.

But I managed to get myself good and overheated as well as dehydrated at SoulFire TWO DAYS IN A ROW!

Tejas and I arrived on Friday at 10 am and set up camp in the heat. Once camp was set up we drank rum and cokes until I started to worry that I wasn’t getting enough liquid so I drank 3 diet cokes.

Just a word of advice: Diet Coke DOES NOT PREVENT DEHYDRATION.

No it does not.

Because at about 9 pm after battling a dehydration headache for about two hours, I gave up and went to bed with 3 Tylenol RIGHT WHEN THINGS WERE GETTING GOOD!

I laid there, freezing cold, wanting a bed partner to snuggle with while I recovered.

But no, there were no bed partners to be found.

I laid in bed until about 1 am, then got up to party only to find that the party was winding down.

So back to bed.

Try again another day.

Cue Saturday.

I’m drinking TONS of coconut water to keep me hydrated and yet with the 95 degree heat I still manage to overheat.

Dante took me to the Restaurant to sit in air conditioning and cool down.

I was dizzy walking up the hill to the Restaurant (even though I was wearing nothing but pink ruffled panties and a crochet bikini fringe top).

There was an art exhibit going on in the Restaurant and I found that if I positioned myself just right I could stare at a picture of a dolphin while the vent blew cold air up my butt.

It was amazing!

So, lessons learned:

Diet Coke is not the same as water

Coconut juice will not prevent overheating

Do what you need to take care of yourself

However, if you fuck up (like me) then friends are so helpful when you’re not feeling well.

Love to Tejas for giving me Tylenol and love to Dante for cooling me down.

michelle and tejas

Love Letter #1

I wrote my first of many love letters to a dear “old” friend of mine.

We happened to be texting.

And I’m not sure if it was the effects of watching Ellen Degeneres or the booze I was drinking, but the love just started pouring out of me.

I started out by pointing out what a gift he is in my life:

“I know what a gift you are.  You’re extraordinary.  A true gentleman and a romantic with a generous heart and a playful spirit.”

I went on to tell him, “I think it’s important to tell loved ones that they are loved.  You are one of my favorite people in the world.  And I love you.”

There’s so much I admire about him.

He’s a hopeless romantic.

He is so full of love that he can’t bear to not have someone to give it to.

I love his dry sense of humor and how he is self-deprecating about the things that worry him the most.

And if something happened to me tomorrow, he knows that  he has made my life better by just being in it and that I love him dearly.

And do you know what?

He loves me too!

Isn’t that a blessing?!

I could get used to writing love letters to my family and friends.