Tag Archives: California

Some Little Updates to the Blog

26 Mar

BIG thanks to ManiK Fox and Fegliogative for the artwork and letters!

Please check out their other artwork (and my mate’s music):




There were some even cooler designs but WordPress is a Bit(H and nothing would fit the banner without cutting out practically everything.

930 x 198 Pixels is a @$%$# Nightmare!

While we’re talking about logistics I also changed up the topics above the header. In keeping with the animal theme, I tried to do some wordplay, but they translate to:

  • Animals
  • Places
  • (Anti) Valentines
  • School/College/Education
  • Work/Career
  • Sexuality/LGBTQQAA
  • Music
  • Exercise/Diet
  • Current Events/News
  • Analysis of Media/Vocabulary

Just click any of those to filter posts by category.

Also, don’t forget about the “search” function in the top right for specific posts or key words. In combination with CTRL F you can find anything you want.

The current popular posts are listed on the right.

Under that is a word cloud to look at posts with a specific tag.

Then there is a list of my few last posts under that.

And finally, there’s a calendar of what I posted by date.

Tactics of the Tahoe Squirrel

10 Aug

Summer is starting to wrap up–at least here.  And it reminds me of swimming at Lake Tahoe.  A big part of the swimming is either elbowing for space on the beach (California side) or hiking to and from the water (Nevada side).  A second huge aspect of swimming in Lake Tahoe is the chipmunks and squirrels.  These guys are no strangers to people–and especially the beach snacks they inevitably bring with them.

sqirrel baby

Here is their procedure:

-First they send a small cute shy one out.  It’s small, it’s uncertain.  It’s a crowd-pleaser.

-“Look he’s hungry,” you and your group say, “awwww–give the little guy a cracker.”

-Tiny squirrel responds, “Yum, I’ve never had a cracker!”

-Then there’s 3 squirrels standing in various places looking at your group.

-You throw a couple of more crackers out–not wanting to be unfair.

-Then things escalate a little and the big squirrels are stealing all the crackers from the little cute ones.squirrel fight

-All the time, more and more squirrels are appearing out of seemingly nowhere.

-You begin to think you’d better cut them off because the small squirrels aren’t fast or tough enough to get ANY.

-You begin to think maybe they’ve done this before and are probably getting fat.

-More and more are showing up and you and your group realize you are outnumbered.

-Then, realizing feeding time is over, the squirrels are looking through your bag trying to get their own crackers.

-They form a squirrel posse’ surrounding your group and using intimidation tactics.squirrel group

-Then, they have sticks and rocks and are threatening you for crackers.

-They have brass knuckles and surround you demanding crackers.

squirrel war

Well, you get my point.  There is no such thing as one lone cute little squirrel.  So the locals quickly learn not to feed the little creatures.  But we do laugh when we see visitors (or stupid Californians who are always inept) feeding them and the resulting fall out when they do.  Oh and fair warning–don’t touch them–they carry zoonotic disease.  True story.

Icky Reasons for IVF

5 Jun

I know IVF in Kansas was for infertile couples who desperately wanted a child.  As an egg donor in the Midwest, I felt my contribution was part altruistic, part financial.  The parents on the waiting list seemed to really want a healthy child.  I never got the vibe that people wanted a model-genius or anything like that.  At most, I knew parents wanted a donor that resembled them–probably so the parents could sort of see what their genes looked liked together and also so their family would look more cohesive.

Then, when you get to California and even Seattle, IVF is more a way to genetically engineer a beautiful, smart, child. A lot of the questions on the surveys regarded test scores and accomplishments, rather than just the health background I had in Kansas City.  And no one in Seattle ever picked me as a donor.  Maybe because the West coat market is more saturated with women wanting to donate, but also, I suspect, because I didn’t Ace the SAT or get signed by Ford.  It creeped me out that parents are picking traits they want in a child and trying to exclude different or unique characteristics.

It’s the variability in people that makes us special–however problematic for society.

Plus, that was some of the best (easiest) money I’ve made in my life.  Most definitely the easiest.  Even with the drugs, needles, and 2.5 hour (one way) driving time.  It honestly didn’t inconvenience me very much at all–especially when they handed me those big checks after surgery 🙂  I could certainly use that kind of income now!  Except, I’m running out of time.  You can only be an egg donor until age 30.  I have about one year to get picked.  Listen up, infertile people in Seattle–pick my profile, hurry!  *sigh* I need to go back to the Bible Belt so I can utilize my last 2 donations (you get 6 in a lifetime).  I should see if MT, ID, or Eastern WA have an IVF program. . .

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I’m Sorry Jaycee Lee

15 Feb

Facts via “Shattered Innocence.” The book about the Jaycee Lee Dugard kidnapping/captivity/sexual abuse.  It was a more sensationalized account, but gave another valuable perspective on the story.  Mostly, I liked the acknowledgement of how deeply the Tahoe/Northern NV was affected.  It was also horrifying to see all the ineptitude listed in one chapter.  Here goes:

Phil Garrido received a 50 year federal prison sentence for Kidnapping Katie Callaway on the California side of Lake Tahoe and driving her across the state line to Reno where he had fashioned a “Porn Palace” in a storage unit.  He bound her with a leather strap for transit, then took drugs and raped her for 6 hours before a police officer stumbled upon the car with CA plates.

Garrido was released from federal prison after only 11 years.  He was sent to Nevada to serve time for the state offense of drugs and rape.  They only held him for 7 months before paroling him.  In 1999, parole was moved to California.  On four occasions (November 1999, July 2004, December 2005, and April 2008) California made requests that Nevada should let Garrido off of parole all-together.

Parole agents get a ten week training program, no field training, then are rushed into work where their caseloads are staggering.

Under conditions of his parole, Garrido had to submit to searches of his property at any time.  No prior notice or warrant was required for such a search.

During the first month of this transition from Nevada to California–no one looked at the Garrido residence, as was policy.  Worse, no parole officer ever visited the residence for the first year they lived in Antioch!  This could have been because CA mis-assigned Garrido to the minimum level of supervision instead of the high control status he was supposed to have.

No agent visited Garrido the six months from Nov ’99 to May ’00.  Phil merely visited the parole office on 3 occasions, submitted 5 brief monthly reports, and called on the phone once during that period.  It wasn’t until May ’00 that CA even realized Phil was a sex offender and should have been placed at a high level of supervision.  He should have been submitting to frequent drug tests all along, as he cited drugs in the rape case, as the primary reason for his behavior!

Another oversight were the mental health assessments mandated by the judge.  This was not done at all between 1999 and October 2007.

Still, between April ’01 and October ’03 no reviews were done at all!  Furthermore, between June ’01 and July ’02 no one even bothered to visit the Garrido residence as mandated.  From June ’04 to August ’05 there was only one visit to the house.

In June of 2002, the local fire department responded to a call that a juvenile had sustained a shoulder injury while swimming in the pool.  No juvenile should have been on a sex offender’s property.  Any parole agent had access to this report, but of course they didn’t bother to look.

There were at least 30 incidences in which emergency services were called to the Garrido residence, mostly to deal with Phil’s elderly mother.  Any of those agencies had an opportunity to see something amiss.  Also, parole officers have access to emergency reports.

On June 17, 2008, an agent went inside Garrido’s house unannounced.  His report stated inside there were Phil, Nancy, Phil’s mother, and “a 12 year old female.”  Again, sex offenders on parole are not supposed to be near children.  And when questioned who the girl was, Phil said it was his brother’s daughter.  The parole agent did not contact the brother to confirm this–if he had, he would have realized Phil’s brother does not have a daughter.

On at least 10 occasions parole officers had not completed mandated reviews.  And in 15 more instances, reviews were performed, but obvious deficiencies were not corrected.  It was noted that of the 123 months Garrido was under parole supervision, 111 months were rated inadequate to departmental standards.

In fact, over the years, there were about 60 face to face visits at Garrido’s home, where Parole Officers took pictures of utility lines, cables, and telephone lines running from the house to a carport in the backyard.  This was not investigated further.  Not on a single one of those 60 visits!

Parole agents never once spoke to any of Garrido’s neighbors either.  If they had, they might have talked to Dennis McQuaid, who said at five years old, he spoke with a blonde girl in Phil’s backyard.  “She said, ‘My name is Jaycee.'”  Two other neighbors reported seeing under-aged girls at Phil’s house.  On November, 30, 2006, neighbor, Erika Pratt, called the police and said, “He has several tents in the yard with people living in them, and there are children there!”  The report noted she was concerned because her neighbor has a sexual addiction.  This is the infamous incident when police were sent to the house, and instead of checking the backyard, or questioning Phil, they warned him tents could be a code violation.

It wasn’t until 2008, that Garrido had to wear a GPS unit.  The unit used satellite to transmit location, speed of movement, and direction of travel to the department.  In a 32 day period the summer of 2009, Garrido’s GPS proved that he had left his home after curfew 14 times.  Worse, it showed he traveled well outside of his permitted 25 mile range, to Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco.

Most suspiciously of all, the GPS device showed that Garrido had gone to his “secret” backyard 30 times in just one day!  Between July 23, 2009 and August 23, 2009  Garrido’s GPS signal disappeared every night, for as long as 9 hours.  A parole agent learned of the GPS descrepencies and no action was taken at the time!

Back to the “secret” compound in the backyard:  In a federal file was a report of the search of Garrido’s soundproof shed.  This is the same shed Jaycee Lee Dugard was imprisoned and raped.  This search by federal agent, was not shared with state authorities, who were obviously unaware the property extended any further.

In July 2008, a regional sex offender task force did a sweep of the Antioch area, including the Garrido residence.  They searched the house and backyard, but not one looked past the 8 foot fence and into the secret compound.

In June 2009 (a month before Garrido’s arrest), a recidivism test was requested.  The test could estimate the likelihood rapists would re-offend, and was primarily used on prisoners requesting parole–not those already out on parole.  The test was not run until 3 weeks AFTER Garrido’s arrest.  Of course results came back as a high-risk of re-offense-ya think?

On August 25, 2009, when Berkley officers called Garrido’s parole agent, that agent did the worst thing possible:  He asked (an increasingly paranoid and erratic) Phil to come to his office the next day.  This could have alerted Phil to a problem and prompted him to run, or worse, hurt Jaycee or her two, young daughters.

Everyone FUCKED up.  And sure, the state of California paid Jaycee Lee Dugard an unprecedented settlement of 20 million dollars, but is it enough?  How can all of the damage be un-done?  Jaycee missed her childhood, was held captive in horrible conditions, and raped.  Nothing can change that now.  She has two children and a lot of emotional damage that can never be un-done.  None of this should have happened, and 20 million dollars won’t change that. . .


8 Nov

In the 1040s, L.A. was primarily white and groups of whites would pick on the few blacks found there.  The blacks just formed (unofficial and unnamed) groups to defend themselves.

In the 1950’s, police chief, Parker recruited police officers from the Southern U.S.  He was racist and knew what kind of enforcement he wanted in L.A.

Everyone was confined to very small spaces, creating much tension.  Though the last lynching occurred in 1948, police took up the oppression cause.

In 1965, was the Watts Riot.  LAPD pulled a black person over with no cause (this happened with regularity), heavy-handed “discipline” ensued, frustrated blacks fought back.

African Americans organized and formed the Black Panthers and a group called US.  Gangs were politicized at that time.  Soon, the FBI claims the Black Panthers were worse than communists or any other group.  As such, the FBI aims to cripple the Black Panther Party.  Their counterintelligence moved to pit the Panthers and US against each other.  The FBI sent propaganda to each group to turn them against each other.  Black Panther leaders were killed.

By 1969, blacks began killing each other.

1970s brought a “me” mentality to the black community.  But there was nothing in the community to join.  Raymond Washington started the Crips as a way to get some power.  There were a lot of people searching for a group, but no real leadership.  Danifu emulated the tenants of the Black Panthers for the Crips constitution:  Community, Reform,

The leather jacket was a status symbol.  Media became attached to gang killings over jackets.

Any other group that materialized was seen as poised against the Crips.  This is how L.A. became so fractured.  Once a person is killed, there would be a retaliation, then it never ends–it goes on and on and on.

Factories began to disappear in the late 1970s.  Black people lost jobs, couldn’t support their families.  Collapse of the black family occurred not during slavery, but when black men lost their jobs en-mass.  Gangs provided community and family to fill the holes.

Poverty Pimps would get government funds to “help” clean up gangs, but would individually profit instead of helping as they were supposed to.  The wider community of L.A. turned away from the black problems.  Money was not spent there.

In the 1980s gangs meant money.  Drugs exploded into large business.  In the dead communities of black ghettos, drugs were the only ones hiring.  Using intercity drug money, the federal government could supply funds to the Contra War in Nicaragua.

Once gangs had money, they could mobilize.  Once the gang killings occurred in wider (white) California, it became a major problem and media, politicians, and police took notice.  War on Drugs and Gangs started though drugs and gangs had been around (the ghettos) for a long while.  An entire generation of black people are incarcerated in prisons.

1990s brought the focus to South Central.  Warring gangs came together to fight injustice of police brutality.  Authorities tried to keep the Bloods and Crips at war.  Again, misinformation was touted to stigmatize the gangs and keep them fighting each other (rather than the LAPD).

Peace didn’t last long.

How do you stop the chain reaction of revenge killing?  How is the economy redeemed?  Who knows how to get the families back together?  How do the younger generations keep out of gangs and violence and drugs when they are surrounded by them?

“A Stolen Life” book review

15 Jul

I bought Jaycee Lee Dugard’s book yesterday and had read it in one 4 hour sitting.  I was riveted.  The book describes her cold step-father, her naive life in Lake Tahoe, and the kidnapping in a few short chapters.  As a side-note, I had never even thought people could get their hands on a stun gun.  This was how she was grabbed so quickly off the street.

Like her real life, the majority of the book focuses on her subsequent captivity, torture, and sexual torment at the hands of the Garridos.  Not for the faint of heart!  When she describes losing her virginity to Phillip or his drug-fueled “runs” I felt disgusted, sick, and sorry.  Despite detailed descriptions of  seclusion and sexual abuse, some of the saddest portions of the book talk about pets she was allowed to have.  This guy gave the little girl cats, them took them away, cats were eaten by dogs in front of her, birds froze to death–her broken heart with each animal incident was palpable.  Jaycee Lee wraps up the book talking about her rescue and new life.

The book is very well written and I’m glad she shared her story.  The whole thing made me furious about Phillip Garrido’s many prior offenses, broken parole, and the apathy of the system in regards to his case.  He saw a psychiatrist 3 days prior to kidnapping Dugard and 4 days after he had taken her to fulfill his sexual fantasies.  Time and again he escaped consequences of his repeated, terrible actions!  It’s a good example of how rapists and pedophiles are irredeemable and should be put to death the FIRST time they are caught.  It would sure save a lot of innocence–and money.

After reading the book, I felt even more how this could have happened to me–any little girl.  Like me, Jaycee Lee was just a little blond girl in pink stretch pants.  The had large teeth, and a love of animals, especially cats.  I am so lucky that it wasn’t be grabbed from the bus stop!  My heart goes out to the Dugards, and I hope both Garridos suffer greatly before they burn in hell.

I MUST have it!

12 Jul

Jaycee Lee Dugard’s book, that is.  I am going to a bookstore this Thursday to find, and purchase this book.  Since I lived in the area she was kidnapped, I feel like I could have easily been her.  I was just lucky. . .  I will let you know how it is when I’ve read it!

Skid Row + Vocab

6 Feb

Skid Row seemed terrible–all decorous behavior vanished, apathy everywhere, everyone lived like animals.  The food offered by the missions is meant to be sustenance, not known for its tastefulness.  On Skid Row, pretty much anything goes–appropriate, socially correct behavior is relative.  Anyone who uses proper English on Skid Row would be marked as an outsider in no time–education is disregarded there.  No one is courteous–instead using brawn and viciousness to obtain daily needs and wants.

The filth surrounding Skid Row is appalling–certainly far from comme il faut.  How can you expect manners or politeness from heroin addicts and drug dealers?  I noticed how most of the people on “Skid Row” were ultimately indifferent which made them fallacious–reverting back to the same ‘ol drugs when it came down to it.  One of my favorite quotes:  How do you know an addict is lying?  His lips move.  It seems like all addicts are sophistic andspurious by nature.  Homeless people don’t want to be that way so they say plausible things about their goals and aspiration to get help, but the addict part kicks in.  Also, they become listless in changing their situation.  It is ostensible that a drug users are enjoying themselves–when they’re under the influence, but being an addict isn’t fun.  It’s really sad that spurious junkies involve their families in their addictive behavior and its consequences.

The people on Skid Row are mostly addicts–70-90% of them, so the police know they are beyond reproach.  To vituperate one person on Skid Row would be pointless, because there are so many criminals right there, and they would fill up all the jails in California–so they are pretty much left alone.  The authorities become unresponsive to the scene as well.  Even recovered people fall victim to their previous vices, and become sophistic about hiding their behavior.  The illusory solution to the problem is to segregate the homeless junkies, but that creates new, larger problems for L.A. and the nation as a whole.  This segregating attitude combined with stolidity by the homeless themselves, the government of California, and society as a whole is what contributed to and upheld Skid Row in the first place.  The specious solution is throwing money at the problem, and sure, that would help, but for long term success, America has to fix the housing market, instill education, help inequality–it’s a multi-faceted problem with no easy solution.

Most of the homeless featured in the documentary parry questions, and insult interviewers to remain invisable–there is astigma in living on Skid Row.  They had to use hidden cameras to film the documentary because the people on Skid Row were so Evasive about being taped.  The derelicts living on Skid Row were paranoid about cameras and camera crews, repelling all media from the streets.  The residents on Skid Row also avoided police offers, and knew the documentary guy was a phony impostor when he approached police to ask what was happening.  When asked if they wanted to be homeless or do drugs the people would deflect the question by asking for more drugs.  Skid Row inhabitants figured police, FBI, etc had a conspiracy against them.  The homeless addicts living there hated the police because they feared an insurrection.

Skid Row is not a new phenomenon–having established fusty, prehistoric roots back in the 1870’s!  Seattle coined the superannuated term “skid road” because the loggers would sleep in Pioneer Square on their off-season having no work or money.  It’s weird to me that these skid roads are right next to downtown metropolis areas–I wonder which is superseded.  Drugs were introduced to Skid Roads in bygone times–quite early due to people down on their luck and desperate.  Vancouver’s Skid Row has the highest instance of heroin deaths, starting in dated times on the North American continent.   The dowdy hotels and cheap housing attracted out of work fisherman and loggers, then the drugs made it even more of a seedy area.  AIDS, HIV, and Hepatitis-C are not obsolete in the areas of Skid Row even with the aid of programs like the IV drug safe injection site in Canada.

Central City East is the outdated term for Los Angeles’ Skid Row.  An outmoded name for an area of 5th street occupied by homeless is “The Nickle.”  There were stale accusations that the police and hospitals in L.A. transported the homeless to Skid Row instead of offering services to them.  The name Skid Row is so passe‘ that the fire station (#9) that services the area has “Skid Row” emblazoned on the sides of their fire-trucks.  New York’s “The Bowery” had the vintage name of Skid Row.

It is crazy to think the Skid Row statistics are not embellished.  Estimates of 7,000 to 8,000 homeless people in Los Angeles are not enhanced–there are really that many people on the streets on Skid Row.  It is not embroidery of facts that California government deemed the number of shelter beds inadequate for the amount of homeless and now allow camping on the sidewalks within boundaries of Skid Row from 9 PM to 6:30 AM.  It seems to me that the government just gave up on the problem and became insensible about finding a true solution.  Seeing the streets bedecked with tents, addicts, and human excrement is quite shocking from my living room–I can’t imagine seeing Skid Row in person.

The streets are adorned with 51.4% Hispanics, 25.5% Caucasians, and 16.7% African Americans.  It is no exaggeration that the per capita income for Skid Row is 41.8% below the poverty line.   It’s hard to elaborate on the problem of Skid Row without seeing it.  Almost all the residents of Skid Row suffer some sort of stigma.  They are marked by poverty, blemished from addiction, tainted with mental disorders, and stained from living hard.  The opprobrium falls not only on the homeless themselves, but on a impassive society–because we had a hand in putting those people there.  It is a blot on our country that there are Skid Rows scattered throughout with a throw away population living in filthy, horrid conditions.  The third world conditions on Skid Row discredit us as a nation.

San Fran Fun-Times Part 2.3

2 Jan

And now for the fun of San Francisco.  I was not going to waste the trip (remember it took an hour to park) so we decided to try to find another place to eat in Castro.  We settled on a sushi place right on Church Street.  We ended up getting 4 different rolls for $16!!!!  Can you believe that—just $16 for all that sushi.  What a deal.  You could never get that much for so little at Saki!  Sure, it made us both slightly sick later on, but c’mon–$16!!! I’ll take a little mild sickness for that price.  Did I mention it is freezing in San Fran?  Yeah, I forgot about that small detail and did not have a coat, sweater, long sleeve shirt, nothing. So the walking business was not the greatest.  We were making the trek to the car, all the way back to the f-ing car, and saw a karaoke bar!  Sarah and I have been looking for a karaoke place all summer so it was perfect.  We go in and begin the drinking, because obviously both of us are far too reserved to sing sober.  Other people were going up and signing drunk as well.  Kimmie managed to belt out a song perfectly despite the fact she was super-trashed and got distracted playfully kicking one of the patrons towards the end of her song.  Then, came Mark-e-Mark.  He was so drunk-E-drunk he could not stand up.  This guy almost fell trying to get up on stage than he missed the beginning of his song—twice.  Sidenote:  I’ve been there, sir.  Unfortunately when I was super-trashed I couldn’t hear, let alone, read my music.  I missed the entire song!  Back to Mark-E-Mark: Amazingly though, he could still sing.  He also was able to sing his song quite well.  He didn’t even read the words—he couldn’t have at that point in his drunkenness!  Finally, it was Sarah and my turn.  We decided to do a duet to have moral support.  Fiona Apple’s “Criminal” has never sounded so—uh good.  Yes, that’s how I remember it—it was a rousing rendition–amazing 😉  Then we had to walk back to the car.  Remember that empty street I decided not to park on?  Good thing, there were definitely creepies leering around there.  We did the keys through the fingers trick just in case.


Day 2 of the big Fran.  I decided there would be no more driving in the city.  I didn’t think my brakes could make it, the parking situation sucked, and it meant I had to remain sober the whole time-uh, no.  I called BART and found they had a station at the airport-our hotel was close to it too.  Plenty of parking there-yay!  So we took public transport the entire 2nd day and things worked out much better!  First stop was fisherman’s warf.  We get off BART and had a way to go before we’re at the warf.  That’s ok, the lady at transportation services told me to take a bus from BART.  So we wait for a bus and find one that goes in the vicinity of the piers.  When getting on, I try to give the driver cash—he waves me on in (without paying) all impatient.  So I guess you pay when you get off? Other people leave the bus and they have tickets.  I’m freaking out—we have no tickets. What will happen?  Will he let us off the bus?  Do we have to ride around for the rest of the day?  Are we going to be arrested for cheating the bus system?  How will we pay? Oh and where exactly are we supposed to get off the bus?  This worried train of thought doesn’t make a lot of sense, but this is how my mind works.  I’m high-strung, what can I say?  Just before I have a stroke, we decide to get off the bus randomly.  We just pick the next stop, as we don’t know where we are anymore.  The driver opens the door—and steps off the bus.  Weird. . .  I guess he had to go to the bathroom?  Can they just leave like that?  He did.  I don’t know.  We got off the bus though—without ever paying. So a free bus ride was had. . .

We walked the rest of the way to the piers, not wanting to have any more public transit confusion.  On the way, Sarah noticed that I had glitter on my arms.  I didn’t put glitter on that morning, or lotion, or perfume—I was marked with the secret sparkle 😉  Crazy. Anyway, I love the piers!  It’s probably my favorite place in San Fran.  We watched the sea lions for awhile.  They are very humorous.  My descriptions of their activity would not do them justice, you have to see it for yourself.  Next we ate lunch on the pier.  It was a super-nice restaurant!  Sarah and I had clams, bread, sea food—the works.  And you know the sea food is no Midwest “sea food.”  It was fresh and delicious like I haven’t had in forever.  We also had Cape Island Iced teas (or some other island besides the regular “Long.”  We also had a bottle of wine-yum.  It was tasty and did wonders to calm my nerves.

San Fran is all HYPE Part 1 [9-5-07]

2 Jan

My best pal Sarah was nice enough to fly my 2 cats to Nevada so I didn’t have to go all the way back to Missouri just to fly back to Nevada.  When she got here I tried to show her a good time.   Whore houses, Lake Tahoe, Reno, and Virginia City have their place—but northernNevada is no Chicago.  So to make up for it, we drove to San Fransisco—which is just 6 hours from where I’m staying.

We finally got there about 5 or 6 pm and after driving around lost for awhile, ended up in the Tenderloin.  Of course, I had to stop in the seedy-looking area for gas. . .  I didn’t really want to get out of the car either.  There was a homeless man lingering around the pumps and I did not want him to come over and talk to me.  Oh, he did.  He asked if he could wash my windshield, and trying to be as polite as possible, so as to avoid a bad scene, I sad “No thank you, sir.”  Then, of course I couldn’t get the f-ing pump to work.  For whatever reason, in California, the pumps are different. You have to attach them all special.  I think it’s because, like Texans, Californians think they are their own country and special for some reason (they’re not–they’re just a pain in the ass).  Anyway, the homeless man comes up again and offers suggestions.  I finally get out of there and we work on trying to find a hotel.  Whenever Sarah and I have gone anywhere in the past it’s been a hassel to actually find the hotel we reserved online.  This trip we figured we would just get a place when we got there.  Looking back, this was the wrong method.  San Francisco takes some planning ahead.

I’m driving around aimlessly in the terrible traffic and hilly roads (remember the brakes on my car aren’t up to par) just hoping to find any hotel.  We pass a person on the road with a red raggedy ann wig and I think a dress and heels.  Very masculine looking and VERY out of it.  The person was pacing up and down the street looking very belligerent.  FYI the Tenderloin is not the best neighborhood”.  It WAS cool to see where “Screaming Queens” (a film from the creating change conference) took place though.  When we finally found the Days Inn, I was a little afraid my car would be stolen or something.  Shady-looking people where lingering around everywhere!  We go inside and the mean Asian tells us they have 1 room left with 1 queen size bed and it’s by the elevator and drinking fountain.  He said we would have to pay 200-some dollars to stay there for a night.  We asked where other hotels would be and he assured us they would be full-“it’s the busy season girls.”

He said it with attituide like we were all stupid too!  Asshole!  Instead of caring about our safety, he tried to coerce us into taking a crappy room–he probably had more, too.  We decided we would take our chances and go elsewhere.  Sarah and I were definitely ready just to drive the 6 hours back home.  It was not turning into the fun time we thought.  We again started driving aimlessly and I headed toward San Jose.  Then, we came upon about 6 hotels-yay!  Unfortunately, they were also on on their “last room” and also crazy expensive. This is when my last ex who got hotel discounts would have come in handy. . .  We drove on further and found a little Ramanda.  It was our last attempt before just turning around and going home.  Its “last room” was under $125 so we took it—having no other option.

We were stoked after having secured a hotel so we decided to go somewhere fun to eat and drink.  Easier said than done.  Sarah had a book with good places to go in San Fran so we decided to try some of the places in it.  Since it was later than we anticipated we figured we would start at the Castro district and do some of the things farther away the next day.  What I didn’t know was 7-8 pm is the most popular time ever to go into the city.  There were no parking spots anywhere.  I just kept driving and driving then hitting a one way street and trying to figure out how to get back in the vicinity of the restaurant.  Driving on the crazy hills.  The streets in San Fran are super steep up and down hills.  With my leaking brake fluid, it was not the best situation.  I was behind some cars at a red light on a particularly steep down hill and my car started making a groaning sound and creeping forward.  The concern was acerbated because my foot was firmly on the brake.  Yeah, the brakes were not going to make it on those hilly roads.  I was starting to panic.  No parking, no brakes, and ahhhhh how frustrating to drive around the same 8 blocks for an hour!  I hate city driving and lack of parking!!!  Jesus, build a parking garage, San Fran.  There was this random street really close to where we wanted to be that had all kinds of parking spots.  I thought better of parking there though—why, in the busiest time would people avoid an entire street?  I followed suit though thinking the locals must know something I didn’t.  Finally after an hour I found a spot to park on 10th street—about 16 blocks from where we wanted to be.  I was so infuriated at the lack of parking and frustrated from city driving, and scared about my failing brakes, I took the parking spot gladly.  The restaurant we were looking for was bright yellow.  We walked and walked, then Sarah told me she thought we had gone to far.  No way!  We would NOT walk right by a bright yellow building right, right?  Well, maybe.  So we walked all the way back—it’s around 9:30 pm now—2 and a half hours after we started trying to get to this place.  Yup, we had walked right past the place.  We stopped to read the posted menu and the girl inside glared—thy close at 10 and she obviously didn’t want us coming in.  So all the work (and time) for nothing.  Sarah and I were hating San Fran.  I’ll finish up the San Fran trip in the next log.  Dun, dun, dun–To be continued. . .