Painting the Walls with Butter

My, what a long period of nothingness from these yon HappyFt pages. No pics, no words, no strange deeds of Middle American yonders. What a fast and furious month I’ve stumbled through. Driving across the heartland one last time, lunching in Cleveland right before the November elections, and reading a great political cartoon about how to hack your voting machine.

Before Cleveland, I hot-tubbed on the 25th floor of my friend’s rental building inside Chicago’s Loop. Kimilee was in town working on the Broadway preview of the Pirate Queen as a swing for four of the fem parts. Saw the show, it needs work, but wished her well as I continued the drive east.

Nights in hotels blurred by clear across the Rust Belt, TV visions of election madness, pundit punditry, and the usual gang of idiots. I’d hop online and try to stay in touch with my peeps in NYC and SF. The trip to RI fell through, as did my grand dream of traveling over most of Canada. Iowa got too cold, and an SF friend called me mad for thinking of visiting our neighbors to the north in Nov.

Foot on the gas, headed closer eastward to Vermont. Past the ruins of Buffalo’s freak fall blizzard (broken trees looked like a hurricane hit them), laying rubber on the turnpikes, driving my yellow carny van on to the Green Mountain state. Getting a bit turned around in Troy/Albany, NY and pushing on to cross the border on election day. All along the trip, scanning the dial for local flavor of the heated mid-term election. Settled in Barrington, I stay up super late watching the Dems take control of the House via fun cable news graphics and standing-up pundits.

Wake up the day after to Amy Goodman on TV (ah, so glad to be back in the bubble), asking Ralph Nader what he thinks (Dems swing right to get elected), interviewing Vermont’s own Bernie Sanders, the first independent, democratic/socialist to ever get elected to the senate (He’s there for the working people of his state), and basically giving a farther-left angle on the elections. While driving the rainy back roads of Vermont to Burlington, Rumsfeld resigns. Guess we all saw that coming.

Make it to the Home Office for Sensible Priorities just in time to grab lunch with Ben Cohen and Duane. I get warm hand shakes and hugs for a job well done. Iowa and New Hampshire both swung left the day before, so I think that I actually made a difference the past 6 months. At lunch, Ben and Duane ask me questions about improving upon the educational vehicle theme, so I give them notes from my experiences on the road.

Back at the office, champagne pops as the True Majority folks celebrate the fall of Rummy. I take care of some last minute business, and then work with Erin on getting the hell out of VT, and heading to NYC. The next day, I’m on a bus to NYC, arriving to the Port Authority a few hours late (when the bus driver says it’s the worst traffic he’s seen, I believe him). Had time to rake over the post-election coverage in the NY Times, read a cheesy used book, and listen to Podcasts.

I head uptown and get keys to Kimilee’s West Side condo. Complete with security guard and doorman, I end up checking her mail (and mailing it to her in Chicago), making food, and really feeling like a New Yorker for the first time in my life (I’ve visited NYC since the late 1980s, but never like this). My eight days there become a blur of long walks in Central Park, a few puppet shows (one was part of the Havel Fest), a discounted ticket for Spamalot, an amazing Comic Book exhibit at the Jewish Museum, and a wasted afternoon trying to get into the Daily Show.

I also caught up with friends, made new friends, and ran into SF friend Danny Cantrell at his concert at Webster Hall (he’s accordian and sawist for Joanna Newson). Drank way too much, saw The Departed, and shopped. My last 6 months were greasy and hard on the clothes, so I bought a new pair of shoes, a scarf, and some gifts for SF friends. I also saw the nice side of New York, getting a free coffee at the cafe where I went online, a free second pint from a bartender who misheard my saying “No” for a second round, and free extra falafal at at great place called Chickpeas.

Spent the last few nights in Brooklyn, and had the smoothest flight ever to SF (the limo to the airport was perfect, the departures and arrivals were perfect). Had a row to myself on the long leg to SFO, so stretched and snoozed and nursed a cold. Landed in SF, and met up with Laura by the luggage claim. Happy to be back, but sick and tired, I crashed quickly my first night back.

Where have the last 2.5 weeks gone? Since leaving Iowa, web access has been dicey. I haven’t updated Stencil Archive since then and have barely been able to check e-mail. Got well in time to catch an amazing hat sale at Ads Hats (RIP) my first full day back. Also visited Al at Al’s Comics and picked up my latest batch (man, is Buddha an amazing manga comic or what!?). Walked down Valencia street to see new, clean stores, eateries, and projects. Noticed that the Mission PD has about 4 new security cameras (and they want to put more up along 16th St.).

The blur of friends and errands begins. Doing laundry, getting on unemployment, dealing with health care, figuring out the logistics of moving back into my room (should I paint?). I then head north to Saratoga Springs for the annual community Thanksgiving retreat. I’ve tried to go for about 6 years now, and this year was the first where I could afford it and had time to do it right.

My friend Pamela and I go up in style in a biodiesel VW. We fill it up on the way, and get there early enough to get a great cabin room. About 120 people ended up attending the event, many of them new like me. Mostly communing in two lodges, one of which has an industrial kitchen, about 100 ate the Thanksgiving feast in the Heart Lodge that Thursday. I went of a few hikes, hit the hot tub daily, washed and bussed dishes for my daily chore, and ate like a Hobbit: two breakfasts, three lunches, and a dinner with 10 desserts! I didn’t cook much, but many folks took charge in that huge kitchen and created amazing treats. So great to land into California and then head north to an idyllic spot for getting to know folks better through food, music, talking, and random whatever.

Caught a ride back from Jonathan and Emliy (and Marion), and landed back in SF ready to settle down in the old hood. Continued to catch up with friends (Devin, David, Stephen, Antonio and Linda, etc.), got unemployment worked out and attended two days of workshops, wandered downtown and eventually got stuck on an elevator at the St. Francis with Laura, Antonio, and Linda.

Finally started painting my room. The color I chose was Butter, so now my walls look like I spread a gallon of butter all over them. Wasn’t happy with the color for the details (Lemon Meringue = too bright), so worked through it and ended up with a cream window frame (gave up on the picture rails). So ready to move back in after being in boxes and suitcases for over 7 months!

Hit some cheap amazing jazz at Amnesia, went to meditation last Friday in the Richmond, and just had dinner with Art in the Lower Haight (an Boudrin, RIP). Ran into Ian at the dollar store today and will see him Friday for his birthday. Scott Williams has a salon show Sunday.

So here I am, at my cold metal desk, clicking away for the ole’ Blog. Sucks that I don’t have DSL at my place. Too expensive right now and am thinking of options to get a connection free or cheap. Strange not being online for hours a day like I was on the road. Strange not watching TV like I did in Iowa. Strange being back in SF where nothing has changed that much (well, many retail spaces have gone, but that always happens).

But so excited to snuggle in my bed tonight amidst my buttered walls, knowing full well that tomorrow brings another sunny day. What’s in store? Some job hunting. Maybe a bike ride to the Fillmore to buy tickets for Devotchka. Maybe I head over to my storage space to cut the lock (lost the keys at some point after my return). Oh, and I’ll get online and post this.

Alive and back in San Francisco. Hold all calls for the Carny Man. And watch those glass elevators at the St. Francis. They crazy!