Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Deja Vu

Consistency is not one of my strong points. I'm working on it, but my attempt-a-blog will probably not be the first facet of my life to benefit. I hope you three followers will be patient ones.
So I've found myself, once again, sitting at my mom's kitchen counter, drowning boredom in a bucket of sour cream. Don't be discouraged followers! This rambling stone is still on the roll; let me catch you up. After coming to my own Into the Wild conclusion, that in fact "happiness IS only real when shared", I left Oahu for San Francisco to reunite with a certain love of mine. That would've been March 2nd, I believe, and I'd already arranged my return-return trip, this time accompanied by my significant other, Derek. Our flight is May 29th, so  the countdown continues. 10 more days! Watching him try and make the transition to backpack living is a little entertaining, the poor boy is just the ultimate in fashionista and hygiene standards, but I have faith in him--something not all of our friends and family have so easily shared...Alas, only time will tell!
Ah, love. Table Rock, Medford, Oregon. 5.17.12

Being back in the City that time around, I really got an entirely different experience--separate from any other I'd had while living there. To start off, I had no permanent residence. Ever so often I'd be struck with a strange case of claustrophobia that prevented me from being able to sleep indoors at the homes of my friends. I had grown accustomed to singing everywhere I went; to pass the time, feel good and happy, etc--and I often felt that I would rather be wandering, working on my repertoire, alone, than making conversation with people. So a lot of the time I chose to sleep outside rather than crash at someone's house. In that sense, I really just preferred to be on my own terms. I began utilizing a program to benefit homeless youths--Larkin Street Youth Services--which I have huge admiration and respect for the coordinators of. And I know that a big issue on my mind was the level of my "authenticity", so to speak. The people that I met going to the drop-in center, were people that for whatever reason had found themselves in a similar life position as myself, so why did I feel like I had something to prove? Was it because I had friends I could have stayed with? Yet I chose, however, to spend my time alone, walking the streets, encountering strangers, singing on corners, doing what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it. It felt a bit like having a foot in two worlds. In the world of jobs and schools and places to be, I would find myself in scenarios sometimes where I'd feel a little tired...tired of feeling like I had something to explain...why was I doing any of the things I was doing? What am I contributing to the world? What is my plan? Yes, but what am I going to DO? People like to ask that one a lot. Sometimes I'd be made to feel heroic, in a sense, for pursuing some sort of dream. Then I, being the over-analyzer that I am, naturally am forced to contrast that positive feedback, by scrutinizing my deeper, more personal motives for this change in lifestyle I'd made. Yada, yada, yada...
Derek says I sound like I'm complaining which I disagree with.

Besides, the big difference was how much more real I felt, how much more I could feel and experience the City. In short, I felt that living outside, singing, breaking down the barriers I'd had with fear and people, I had opened myself up enough to be happy, to engage, to hold conversations and be interested in what people would have to say. To not judge anyone. To be grateful. Just sitting on my corner, leaning on the Bank of America at Castro and 18th, I encountered people who up until about six months ago I never would have spoken to. And hiding out in your house until the very latest minute before you have to jump on Muni, stare at the wall so as to avoid making eye contact, work all day in a job you find mind-numbing, go home and do it all over again the next day..I just don't feel that you have the same kind of special, magical encounters..

A woman came and sat with me one night I was singing, she worked for a church branch that had started a Midnight Ministries program. I want to say her name was Valerie. Valerie walked around with her little minister collar and a bible, just talking to those who wanted to talk. I asked her if she had any specific experience that was memorable or special to her...She told me she spent hours with a suicidal schizophrenic man, trying to talk him down, give him some sort of reason to live, she wasn't getting anywhere. It's about 4 am, raining, she's been talking for hours, the man's not listening and just talking them both in circles, another man joins them and says a few sentences to the man. That was it. He calmed down and she parted ways with them, confident no harm would come to him that night. People come into your life for a reason.

One night, I began talking to a homeless war veteran who had just come to San Francisco from the East Coast. He asked me where I slept and I told him I usually just went up the hill to the residences of Castro Street and found a nice doorway. He was in a wheelchair and didn't want to sleep outside so he had me go across the street to a payphone and call 911 for him. I told the operator that there was a man in a wheelchair having chest pains. After the ambulance arrived, I flagged them down, hovering near the stretcher, explaining I was the caller and what I knew. Meanwhile, my new friend was slowly writhing in his wheelchair, belligerently tossing his head around and mumbling to the medic. Up until they arrived we'd been having a perfectly nice conversation. He did get a warm place to sleep that night.
There was Kevin, who I'd run into while I was singing. He would always have mini Reese's, stolen from the Walgreens across the street, and he would come over and share with me.
The Wizard of Oz barcrawl girls who I sang "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" with.
Sharing Britney Spears impressions with the most adorable little Gaysian boy. He had the best one I'd ever heard.
The hustler who offered to smoke some DMT with me.
The couple from Bayview who first told me to put my hat down so people could actually pay me.
One night that it got just a little too cold, a stranger invited me into his home so that I would be warm that night. He was a perfect gentlemen, I made a bed on the couch and left in the morning. That's not something I'd normally do, but I talked with him and felt out the situation. We took a cab to his house and I coincidentally found some pepper spray on the floor of the vehicle, showing him and making a joke out of the possible kidnapping/homicide situation that I very well could have been in. I'm a big believer in signs now, but luckily that was just a fun find. We laughed.

Putting myself out there in such a way, singing publically that is, seemed to make people feel as if I was approachable. I loved meeting new people, seeing how they reacted to me, what they'd have to say on my life, the stories they'd tell me about their own. Singing too, attracted other musically-inclined individuals which presented some interesting opportunities to me. One man gave me his card, said he had a band on hand that he could put together, and if I ever wanted to record anything he had a studio. Another told me about his sister, the recording artist, who was always on the lookout for good backup. One woman told me I needed to go audition for the X-Factor, that I would make it, and that doing so would change my life. While performing City High's "What Would You Do" this guy started beat-boxing some accompaniment for me, we had just the craziest moment, vibing like that, in the end we both thanked one another for just doing what we do. One man, one incredibly generous man, gave me $60 through the course of one evening. I think that really speaks more to his kindness than my own talent, but it's all these stories that I accumulated that gave me more purpose and reason for living in one month than I'd felt for most of my life.

Derek also says that this entry is cheesy. I, like lots of other people, find motivational speakers, self-help media, people that rub their success or happiness in my face, annoying. I don't want to be annoying. By sharing these little anecdotes, the humble, (and for the most part) boring, details of my life I want to inspire. (And also get a book deal, but you know...) To those individuals who believed in me, told me I'm so lucky, that I'm following my dream, and they wish they could too: You can. It was very easy. Don't be afraid to be happy.

A letter to Gma. I always liked to send doodles or crafty envelopes to her.
I must've liked this one.
I left San Francisco in late April. I returned home to Northern California to say goodbye to my grandmother who had been in a poor state of health for some time now. She passed away on April 24th. I didn't get to see her one last time. I spent some time at home, we held the funeral in Portland, I then went to Medford to be with Derek and his family. Death happens, and I was able to look at this passing with the more logical side of my brain. She had been ill and in pain, and her quality of life was now poor, it was all for the best. But it's not until someone is gone that you acquire a new outlook on their life, what they meant to you, what they meant to others. I imagine a sort of armor about me sometimes. To protect myself from the everyday trials and tribulations, keep myself strong, healthy, and in a good state of mind. Her memory and her love for me is part of that armor now.

I have been working on this particular entry for a little while now. From the original 10 day countdown I began with, I now end with only 7. My original entry seemed easy, flowed so naturally. It was an introduction; to explain myself, my objective, throw in an odd joke here and there. What's seemed slightly more daunting in the follow up entries is keeping your attention. Conveying the peace I'm in pursuit of without coming off too preachy or obnoxious. To have something interesting enough to write about. This is just my life...no more, no less. Recently an old friend told me how interesting it was that I gave the impression that I cared so much about what some thought of me, while simultaneously not really caring at all. That's just the sort of useless character analysis that fits me so perfectly. I don't mind digging through garbage for food. I don't mind sleeping in the park. I don't mind sitting on the street corner, looking (and probably smelling) dirty, while the beautiful, clean people turn their noses up to me as they pass by. That's my choice. I don't want to be a burden on anyone, my goal is independence, and as long as I can maintain that personal bar I've set, I feel no shame in the downcast looks people may give. And I've been that upturned nose so I know that I'm not missing out on anything by doing otherwise now. But what I do care about...I want people to think I'm clever. Sometimes funny. But especially, well-written.