Writing in Sebastopol: The Holy Cow


I am not a morning person. My parents could tell you about what a nightmare it was trying to wake me up in time for school. College was great, because I was pretty much guaranteed that I wouldn’t have to wake up before nine am, so it’s been awhile since I’ve had strict schedule.

Two weeks ago, all of that changed. I got a job driving this kid from Petaluma to Sebastopol for school, which means I have to wake up at 6:30am. This is not a thing that I enjoy.

However, once I’m up and driving, I’m looking forward to the morning hours that I would usually miss.WP_20140523_003

I’ve been frequenting this coffee shop for the past two weeks, and it’s become one of my favorite (and most productive!) places to work. The first barista to greet me has a smile even bigger than the frames of his glasses, and his friendliness extends to everyone who walks through the door, long before you even make it to the counter.

They let me smell my tea options before I commit to a potful, and don’t seem the slightest bit miffed or resentful when I stay for three to four hours, getting refills and not buying anything else.

When I buy tea at a coffee shop, I’m not paying three dollars just for tea. That would be ridiculous. Tea is much cheaper elsewhere. I’m buying unlimited hot water, a place to sit, and access to both wi-fi and a bathroom.

WP_20140528_005Located on S. Main St. in the heart of Sebastopol, the shop gets plenty of foot traffic. There’s seats by the window, and although there’s a regular stream of customers, it never gets crowded or loud. Maybe it’s just the fact that it’s placed in the sleepy town of Sebastopol, but the vibe is always laid back. The baristas never seem stressed, and in between the rush, they take time to chat with the regulars. The small-town-ness also means friendly people, who offer smiles and actually make eye contact with their fellow patrons. Toddlers explore fearlessly as parents chat nearby. Mothers bounce babies on one hip.

I don’t have to wear my earplugs here; the ambient noise stays low enough so as to not be distracting, but loud enough that I don’t feel awkward sneezing too loudly.

I finally treated myself to one of their grilled cheese sandwiches, and it’s a good thing I waited this long, or I’d be ordering one every day. The cheese itself is a tasty melted delight, and the sourdough bread lives up to its name, soft and dense with a strong flavor. My side salad is as big as my main course, which is just the way I like it.

If you’re ever in Sebastopol, I highly recommend The Holy Cow. And try the backpacker’s cookie. It has everything delicious in it,including graham cracker bits.

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Sunday Storytime: Heart of a Tiger

Marsha Diane Arnold starts by explaining Naming Day, when “each animal born the previous spring chooses its own name.” But there’s a catch: they only get to keep that name if everyone agrees that it is fair and honest.

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“Four supposed he should name himself Smallest of All. But he was afraid if he named himself that, it would always be so.”

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“In my heart I am bigger than what you see.”

He journeys into the jungle in search of himself, and calms back calm and confident, ready to claim his identity.

 Ideally, won’t our kids do the same? Maybe not in a jungle, although that’s as good a place as any.

You have to go find yourself, discover yourself, without the influence of others.

And it’s a kitten.

 

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City Streets: Selfies with Spaceman

He sits on the corner with a helmet high up on his head, demanding change from the people walking down Hyde St. When I shake my head at his request, he said, “Well, how about a hug?”

There are broken CDs taped to the outside of his helmet, and as I hug him, I can see through the clear visor that it’s stuffed with various articles of clothing: a glove, a sock.”My name is Spaceman, and my helmet is good all over the universe. It works in space, but also on bikes and motorcycles and helicopters.”

I ask about about the metal chimes hanging from his chest, and he tells me he uses them to do Hare Krishna.

“Like this,” and he claps them together, beginning at tuneless chant of “Hare Kirshna Hare Krishna.” When a tall young man dances across the street in time with his chanting, Spaceman shouts after him, “Hey! How about some change for the music? I play, you pay!”

Spaceman tells me that he wants to buy something from the convenience store across the street, but he’s nine cents short. When I ask if I can take a picture from him, he insists I give him some change. I relent, but he hears the rest of the change in my wallet, and won’t even look at the camera before bargaining for more.

spaceman

“Where you goin’ girl? You gonna get on the BART?”

“No, I’m just filling up my Clipper card, then heading to yoga.”

“Oh right, gotta do your yoga. You’re probably a vegetarian and you eat yogurt.”

“I am a vegetarian, but I don’t like yogurt.”

“Yeah, well there are lots of things that you don’t like that you have to put in your body, because they’re good for you. Kids these days, they get drug education, sex education. I’m 64, and we didn’t have none of that when I was a kid.”

“Yeah, ok, I gotta go.”

“Oh, okay. You eat your fruits and veggies.”

“I will. Bye, it was nice to meet you.”

But he’s already lost interest, and returns to badgering anyone who walks by.

 

Sunday Storytime: In The Night Kitchen

Upon rereading, I don’t even know what to say about this one. I remember loving it, I remember loving the rough textured cover interrupted by a big circle seal in the center, but I don’t remember what it was about the story that I liked. Because it seems bizarre now.

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Duncan joins us for story time!

In the Night Kitchen starts out pretty normal: a boy in bed at night, who hears a noise in the darkness. Then there’s an Alice in Wonderland scene where he falls down past lots of things, but for some reason he loses his clothes, and then he falls into a bowl of bread dough.

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I suppose at this point, we realize that the boy is dreaming. And the story definitely has the strangeness of a dream: set on a kitchen countertop, cooks attempt to make him into a cake, but then he pops out, takes some bread dough and shapes it into a plane, and then flies away.

In case you forgot, he’s naked during the entire book, which apparently caused some controversy.

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Of course, when I realize that the author/illustrator is Maurice Sendak, who also wrote Where the Wild Things Are, the strangeness of the story suddenly becomes more whimsical than weird.

P.S. Check out the links if you want to know more about the author, and his intentions with his books. He vowed not to write stories about sunshine and rainbows, because that’s not real life. He was also interviewed on Colbert.  They talk about penises. (And here’s part two.)

Diary to Doc: Lost in Translation

Every six months or so, I’ll go back through ALL of my journals since June 2012 (when my journalling really started getting good.) Besides stumbling upon lost memories and fun quotes, lots of writer silliness ensues. Enjoy.

This is what happens when you’re not looking at what you’re typing, and your fingers get off home row:

“od hia Lem ro ewaxuw m” = “of his alarm to rescue him”

“Snf you vrtysinl” = “And you certainly”

When I’m typing quickly, the phrase “on the” ALWAYS gets typed “ont he”

“at the” becomes “ath t”

“to be” becomes “tobe”

“From” becomes”fmor”

I just looked at a sentence written in my journal and then attempted to paste it into a document. Like, I glanced at it in my PHYSICAL journal and attempted to copy&paste it into my computer with my eyes.

There are so many pieces of writing in my journals that I want to eventually expand on; so many sections that need to be typed and editing and made into something. But right now, I’m on a specific mission, so I’m using sticky notes to mark the pages I’ll come back to, especially the examples of mania for my main blog on mental health (among other things.)

And so ends nine hours of furious typing, resulting in 18 thousand words. And the math-inclined can tell us that’s 2000 words per hour. It was basically a marathon of typing, and my hands are still recovering.

Maybe next time I’ll spread out the journal rereads over several days…

City Streets: Selfies with Steve

I was on my way into a Bartell Drugs when he caught my eye.

“Hey sweetheart, you dropped something!”

I patted the bags strewn/flung across my back. I was pretty sure there was no way I’d dropped anything.

After the brief pause, he delivered the punchline: “Your smile!”

I smile of course, and then gesture towards the store. “Can I get you anything?”

“Uhhmmmm,” he considers, “An egg salad sandwich?”

Steve and Me on the windy streets of Seattle

Steve and me on the windy streets of Seattle

When I come back out, he thanks me for the egg salad sandwich.

“How are you today?”

“Oh, not too bad,” he replies. “But all these people! They walk around so miserable!”

“It’s true, and it’s not even raining today!”

“People gotta have something to smile about.”

Before I leave, he sticks out his hand and introduces himself.

“I’m Steve.”

“I’m Chloe, it was nice to meet you.”

“Keep smilin’. Oh, and bless you!”

 

Storytime: Weslandia

Upon re-reading this book after graduating from the uber-liberal-and-socially-aware Evergreen State College, a small part of me started wondering if this book romanticizes the “native” way of living; if this book perpetuates the White Man Returns to Nature trope that plagues our movies, books, and shows. But, for the sake of childhood, I decided to ignore these feelings and just enjoy the book as I did when I was young.

Right, Pooh Bear? Let's just stay in childhood forever.

Right, Pooh Bear? Let’s just stay in childhood forever.

Weslandia follows a young boy, an outcast, who is teased at school and doesn’t fit in. One summer, he decides to start a project that ends up blossoming into his own world.

It’s a story that encourages independence and initiative, as Wesley takes charge of his life and makes it into something he can enjoy. It’s like a blanket fort: his curiosity and imagination create a space all his own, a place where he is safe and happy, untouched by the outside world. He creates his own reality.

Industrious little fella.

Industrious little fella.

And this is how Wesley finds friends, by first fully finding himself, and living without compromise.