I just had a conversation with Dariush Kayhan of the Department of Homeless Services. You might remember that he was the person from City Hall who was interviewed for the KGO segment last night.
I had asked you all to help continue the attention on this story and contact Mr. Kayhan to see what he was going to do to help resolve this family's story and get them into a safe place.
It seems like you really did pull out the stops and apparently we've really ruined his day today. He was upset with me that I put his phone number and email on the blog. It must be almost as tough to get calls from people worried about a little homeless family than actually being the little homeless family.
But here's the interesting part: even though Mr. Kayhan is the head of the Department of Homeless Services, he tells me that his department doesn't oversee domestic violence shelters. He made a call for K, but outside of that, the shelter is a non-profit (funded in part by the city, perhaps?) and he can't control whether they accept her or not.
Apparently we should be speaking to someone from the Department on the Status of Women. Ahh, who knew?
So in essence, Mr. Kayush been working to help homeless people for many years, but if you're a homeless victim of domestic violence, you need to look to another department for help.
If I'm confused, can you imagine how a homeless mother of three might feel? Who just calls shelters day after day? And so who exactly should have been interviewed on the subject from City Hall?
So, please. Good people, leave Mr. Kayhan alone. He can't really help us.
But that begs the question... is there ANYONE in City Hall who can help? What's going on over there?
Please visit my new site.
You can find new writing, new photos at
Thursday, April 30, 2009
I just had a conversation with Dariush Kayhan of the Department of Homeless Services. You might remember that he was the person from City Hall who was interviewed for the KGO segment last night.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
First of all, I want to give a huge THANK YOU to all of you who continue to care and want K and her family to be safe and protected. It's because of YOU that this story has garnered any attention at all and you should all be very proud of yourselves.
And THANK YOU to Carolyn Tyler of KGO News for bringing this story out in the media and let's hope that something actually comes from this.
So my friends... we are not done yet. As you can see from the clip, there is no guarantee that K and her family will receive shelter at any time soon. And what does that say for the other families in desperate need, the ones we don't even know are out there?
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
UPDATE: Ugh, I'm sad to report that our news story has been preempted by the Swine Flu cases in Marin county. I just got off the phone with Carolyn Tyler, the reporter. She said the piece looks great and hopefully it will air tomorrow. So still keep those fingers crossed...
Let's keep our fingers crossed that something extra good comes of this tonight. I hope that we get enough donations to make sure this little family has a nice apartment to live in until permanent housing becomes available or that the powers that be finally realize that enough isn't being done to help homeless mothers and their children.
Thank you to each and every one of you who has cared to donate, to email a letter of encouragement or to tell your friends, because it's through your support and sharing this story that we were able to attract the attention of some people that might finally do something to make a huge difference in the lives of this family.
Thank you thank you thank you. Wish us luck!
You should be able to see a streaming version online at http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/index or view the archived version later.
"I do not have the funds available right now to be able to give cash, but I sew and quilt and will do or make whatever is needed for her and the babies. I am a single mother with 7 kids and no child support, but I do want to help desperately."
This was excerpted from an email I received three days ago.
Three days ago, Marlene and I had never met. Now I feel like I've known her for a long time.
Marlene, a blogger on the Chesapeake Bay, with a loving heart and a talented hand and a smart brain, was able to raise $230 in a silent auction she had on her blog over the past few days. By using her resources and her talent, people were able to bid on her beautiful handmade tote bags, and Marlene is generously donating the proceeds to help K and her family.
Three days ago, I would have never even imagine how such powerful love and kindness would manifest itself to help this little family. Now I think the sky's the limit and there's no end to what goodness might happen.
Please visit Marlene and say hello and read her own story. She knows only too well the story of domestic abuse.
Thank you, Marlene, for sharing your story and your generous heart. And to your wonderful bidders who participated in your auction... thank you.
Monday, April 27, 2009
A loooooong time ago, when I started my blog--this is going to sound silly, but bear with me-- it really never occurred to me that anyone but my family would actually read it.
So it came as a complete and total surprise to me when I felt I had been "discovered" by the CBS blogger who is behind the Eye on Blogs here in SF, the lovely lady you see above. She invited me to a blogger party at the television station, where lots of other local bloggers were, and it was a revelation to me when she came over, hugged me, and told me with sweet sincerity how much she loved my blog.
Ever since then, Brittney has been unflinchingly generous in helping bring new readers to my blog on a variety of subjects, and of course has been entirely supportive of both my new i live here: SF project and the story about K and the kids.
So please take a moment to meet Brittney. You'll be glad you did. I know I am.
From yesterday's SFist:
"While Gavin Newsom tours California to tout his successes as mayor of San Francisco -- not to mention spending the weekend at the insider-baseball-y Democratic Convention in Sacramento, along with practically every other SF progressive and wonk -- he hasn't solved San Francisco's ails as thoroughly as he might want you to think he has...."
"While finding anything about homelessness on Newsom's site has proven fruitless, the San Francisco mayor talks about 'care not cash,' saying the numbers have improved. But 'care not cash' just isn't working, at least in this case. Yes, K has a social worker, but it sure doesn't sound adequate to keep her family on its feet. (She doesn't even have a way to keep milk/formula for her baby!)"
Yep, that's right. While Mayor Newsom managed to Twitter up $15,ooo for his gubernatorial campaign last week, you've got to wonder what exactly he did for this city that proves he's ready to govern the state. Jerry Brown, are you reading?
San Francisco is sorely lacking in shelters for battered women, which is an entirely different type of resource than a regular shelter. Facilities and programs for abused women and their families in dire need are few and far between here in San Francisco. Had the situation been otherwise, I would have never met K and her family.
Thank you, SFist, for getting out there and saying what needs to be said about what's not getting done in this city to help the people who need it the most. I was too busy trying to help K and the kids to twitter in my donation.
ps.: Oh, and Gavin, if you'd like to meet this mom and her kids to discuss how well your "care not cash" promise is working here in your city, I'd be happy to set up a meeting between your people and K's people. Email me. I'm not on Twitter.
pss.: And one more thing, Gavin, I know your Russian Hill penthouse is up for sale ($2,995,000). If you're traveling a lot for your campaign, I know a little family that could use a nice place to live until room in a shelter becomes available.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Celebrating a special friend's birthday with strawberry, chocolate and mint chip gelato... and a very fancy strawberry cupcake.
Sunday was a day of small triumphs.
A wonderful blogger and new friend, J9, made a special trip in from the East Bay with a perfect little refrigerator so now the kids can have milk for cereal and K can store the breast milk for Baby M that she pumps. There's room in there for fruit and maybe a little dish or two.
J9 also brought a box full of cute clothes for nine-year old D because her two sons have grown. He really seemed to like them all.
The cell phone situation is all handled.
We had fun at lunch with our new friend P., and celebrated her birthday over lunch and some treats.
We went to the playground and some little people played on the swings and slides.
We talked about lions, tigers, sharks, zebras and giraffes.
We hugged and kissed and Mommy wore a brighter smile today.
I hope the clouds are finally lifting for good.
Normally when I edit my photos, I listen to Bach or Chopin. But lately I've been listening to the soundtrack from RENT, something I used to listen to daily nonstop when I first saw the play years ago. I'm a big fan of the song "La Vie Boheme," and it feels very San Francisco-y.
But the other day I was listening to "No Day But Today," and the tears started streaming down all of a sudden. The lyrics meant something so different given the present circumstances, meeting K and her babies.
I took some of the photos of K and the kids and set it to the song... see what you think. I think this song describes what I want to say most of all. Please watch this video with me, and share it with your friends.
It's everyone's story.
There is no future - there is no past
Thank God this moment's not the last
There's only us
There's only this
Forget regret or life is yours to miss
No other road no other way
No day but today
I can't control (Will I lose my dignity?)
My destiny (Will someone care?)
I trust my soul (Will I wake tomorrow?)
My only goal is just to be (From this nightmare?)
Without you (There's only now)
The hand gropes (There's only here)
The ear hears (Give in to love)
The pulse beats (Or live in fear)
Life goes on (No other path)
But I'm gone (No other way)
Cause I die
Without you (No day but today)
I die without you (No day but today)
I die without you (No day but today)
No day but today
I die without you (No day but today)
No day but today
Saturday, April 25, 2009
This will be a short update about K and then I hope to have more of a story to share with you soon.
On Thursday night, I spent quite a long time printing out so many incredibly moving and encouraging letters for K to read. The timing could not have been better.
On Friday afternoon, over a shared sandwich in a cafe downtown, she told me how sad and lonely she'd been feeling that day. Which is so understandable, given her circumstances. I gave her an orange folder thick with your letters. When I started to tell her about how the notes of love and hope were flooding into my email box, we both started to cry over our lunch plates.
I told her that the next time she feels sad and lonely, to read those letters because so many of you hold her and the kids in your hearts. Truly, I don't know yet what to make of all of this-- it just dawned on me yesterday that it has only been a week since I saw K and the kids on the street. I have learned so much since then and can only see more and more how good people everywhere become present when you need them.
People like you.
Normally if I ever "regifted" a present to me, I would never admit it publicly and certainly never tell the person who had given me the gift, but the little purse you see above holds part of the donations that you so generously have been sending in.
I did not want to hand her a plain envelope. I remembered this vibrant, beautiful little purse that Tara had given me the last time she visited San Francisco. When I told K that this purse was a gift from a special and talented lady in Paris, who had also taken the time to write her a letter of encouragement and love that was in the orange folder, I think she just couldn't believe what was happening.
Surely I am almost having a hard time believing it myself.
She is not out of the woods yet. Not by a long shot. The most important thing of all is to get a regular roof over her head. I worry that the money may run out before a shelter becomes available but for now I will not think of that. We have some breathing room.
And it is all thanks to you.
More soon. xoxo
ps.: Again, I must apologize that I've not been able to answer your individual requests and questions about donations, clothing sizes, etc. I still have not had enough time to ask K all the myriad of important questions I need to, and also be there just to listen to her. And then to find the time back here at my desk. But I thank you all for your patience. Soon you will hear from me about whatever it was you needed to know. But don't stop writing and asking.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Guys, you know I'm really tired when I can't find a photo for a post. ;-)
I have been out all day on a photo shoot so I apologize for the late hour.
I wanted to tell you that I have been crying all off and on all day because I kept reading your letters to K on my phone. (I am going to start carrying Kleenex with me because the crummy napkin I had from my lemon scone this morning is terrible for blowing your nose with.)
I finally just finished printing out your letters; it took an hour to print all of your love.
I will be seeing K tomorrow briefly for a planning/strategy/hope to get that darn cell phone thing working, and when I do, I'll have such an amazing surprise for her... one she is not expecting at all:
Will update you more and probably over the weekend when I can. Promise. I am dying to reply to each and every one of you glorious souls, and I will. Promise.
ps.: For those of you who might be worried about her safety, no one is going to divulge where she is staying or where she might be going. No last names, no addresses.
xoxo and sleep well, you angels.
And now, I have some very good news for you... and it's time to help in whatever way you can, which I'll detail below.
I spent several hours over the past days walking around downtown, hoping I would see K again, so that I could talk to her more and try to figure out what kind of help she needed and how we could get it to her. I tried to call her voicemail but it was full, so I was anxious at not being able to leave her a message.
And then on Tuesday, I was able to leave her a voicemail. I explained that I was trying to find her, that there were many good-hearted people out there who cared about her and wanted to help her, but that I needed to find a way to her. And then she called me.
As luck would have it, my blogging friend Sarah had emailed me and offered to help find K, and as a social worker, had all the right information behind her to help. Today we met up downtown and went to K in the room she has in a hotel. The three children and her share a tiny room. But they are together and they are safe.
Tomorrow they would have had to check out of the hotel, where they have been staying for almost a month since they had to leave their home with just a few bits of clothes.
K, Sarah and I discussed the situation. K has been doing all the right things she can do, and is contacting the battered women shelters on a regular basis until she can find a place. She has a social worker, but between the caseloads and the state of the economy, there is very little that can be done yet.
K is doing all she can: she goes to domestic violence classes. She makes sure the kids go to their doctor and dentist appointments. The children are going to school full-time and go to after-school programs, too. Soon, K will be receiving assistance, including a small stipend ($635 a month) plus food stamps and health care. Until I met her, begging was the only way she was able to pay for her hotel room and for food for the kids.
But until she can find a stable home and work, anything we can do will help her and her family immensely. K doesn't smoke, drink or take drugs. But she had a husband who almost killed her (he's gone now), and it's taking all of her strength and bravery to get through this difficult time.
The kids are okay for clothes, but her son D could use a few more things. K left with just a few clothes and needs some underwear.
So, this is where you come in, if you want to join Team Tangobaby and the Do-Gooders (I just made that up)!
- Post about K and her story. Link to this post and the first post about her on your blog.
- Tell all of your friends who don't read blogs.
- You can donate money here (see sidebar) and that money will go directly to K for housing, clothes and food. I will be able to give her the money directly until we can set up a bank account for her. Sooner is better, though. Like now.
- K wants to work. She has experience doing clerical work and can answer phones and do office work. She would love to have a part-time job while the kids are in school. So if any local employers can help with that, please let me know.
- She wants to find a place to live. Having a home will mean everything to her.
- Write her an email and I will print it out and give it to her when I see her. She feels so alone in the world, and I have promised her that there are many many people who are proud of her and wish her all the best. Write her an email and send it to me at tangobaby2 AT gmail DOT com.
I spoke to K tonight when I got home. We talked about getting her a little refrigerator so that she can store breast milk for the baby. Right now in her hotel room, without a refrigerator, she has no way to store the milk. We talked about things the kids like to do (they like the aquarium and the playground), and we talked about makeup. I told her I used to be a makeup artist and we talked about different brands of makeup and what we like. I told her that when she is all settled, we will do her makeup and have a photo shoot and then you can see her at her best.
When I tell you that she is a sweet young woman who just wants to work and take care of her kids, I mean it.
And when I say that you can help, I mean it. Please help. Email me if you want to do more.
And most of all, thank you!
ps.: If nothing else, please take a few moments to write K an email. Just knowing that she has friends in all corners of the world will do wonders for her. I can see it in her eyes. I know how wonderful you are. Write her a note. Send it to me and I will be so proud of you all to give her your good wishes and hope.
pss.: I will be away from a computer for most of Thursday but can check email on my phone. I hope to hear from you!
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
About a year ago, we opened "TangoVida," an Argentine Tango studio and shoe store on the corner of Pacific Avenue and Taylor Street in Nob Hill.
Before I had tango crushes on both Ney Melo and Jennifer Bratt, I had a serious girl crush on just Jennifer, and more specifically, on her feet.
For those scant few tango dancers who still read this blog occasionally (I know there's still a few of you), you know exactly what I'm talking about. Graceful, expressive, and sexy as hell are just a few ways to describe the way Jennifer dances, and like a lot of other people, I pored over her tango tutorials at Bewitching Black Lotus.
And the thought of dancing in the exclusive and uber-tango-fashionable Comme Il Faut shoes gave me even more incentive to try to learn to dance like her.
When I actually met Ney and Jennifer, I was so touched to see how down-to-earth and kind they are. And then became so ecstatic that they were such generous and wonderful teachers because to be honest, I was star-struck and so terribly shy at meeting people whom I had admired from afar for so long. I wish Ney and Jennifer had been my first tango teachers... after taking their classes, I realized I had a lot of dancing baggage to unlearn. I became a much more comfortable, confident and relaxed dancer because of their encouragement.
The opportunity to photograph Ney and Jennifer for the i live here: SF project was just the most incredible experience for me, and a chance to pay tribute and honor this special couple who has brought the soul of tango into the hearts of so many people around the world.
This was the photo shoot that I've teased you with recently here and here. It's also full of so many gorgeous images that I was fairly stumped at trying to select my favorite ones to share with you, although the entire set is available on flickr, and when you see them, you'll understand why it was so difficult to choose.
You can read Jennifer's SF story here, and Ney's story is here, with links to the flickr set as well. I hope that you find them as beautiful as I do, and if you're in San Francisco, that you'll stop by Studio TangoVida for a class or a fitting of incredibly gorgeous shoes. I promise you'll fall in love with them just like I did.
Monday, April 20, 2009
I want to thank all of you who gave such great advice and suggestions about K and her family.
I just wanted to let you know that me and a few other bloggers are now going to be on the lookout for her, first so we can get more information and find out how we can help her. And also so that for those of you who wanted to donate money can do that and we can get it to her and the kids.
Two little wrinkles: first of all, her voicemail is full so I cannot leave her a message to try to find her. I did try to find her on Saturday but could not. And second, today The Boy was in the hospital for most of the day (he seems to be much better now so no worries) and so I was not able to do more for K like I had planned.
But I hope to have more news soon and some viable ways of helping her, with your good advice and generosity.
I'm pretty wiped out today so I'm going to call it a night but just wanted to thank you again. I have a feeling that we'll find her soon and figure out what to do next.
Friday, April 17, 2009
I met this beautiful family on my way home from a photo shoot today. I walked past them, just like the other people on their way home. I admit it. I saw her and sailed on by. I read her sign ($60 for a motel room... you know what kind of motel room $60 will get you in this city).
But I had seen the tears in her eyes, too, and so halfway down the block, I yelled at myself inside my head for being an asshole and went back. I had $30 in my wallet and gave it to her.
I'm not telling you this story so you can think I'm some sort of hero, 'cause I'm not.
And then we talked, and I learned her name was K. and asked her about the shelters in town. She rattled off the names of homes that I know are where abused women and children escape to when their lives are in danger.
None of the shelters had rooms for her and her children.
Then it dawned on me that maybe I could do more than give her $30 and hope someone else gives her another $30 so the young family can find a place to sleep tonight. I asked her if we could share her photos and her story so that somewhere, some of you might be able to help.
K's eyes are perpetually brimming with tears. She's tiny and her hands are chilled. Baby M is sleeping under a blanket on her chest. The two younger children, D and Little K, are relatively quiet considering their ages. At 7 and 9, they could be tearing up the sidewalks, but they're not.
When I explain to K about my blog and that I hope that maybe someone out there reading might have a way to help, she thinks it's a good idea and says it's okay to take the pictures. "It can't be any more embarrassing than what I'm doing now," she says.
I ask her if she lives in San Francisco and she says yes. But she cannot go home. It's too dangerous.
And then D and K want to take pictures, so I show them how to use the camera.
Me, taken by Little K.
Tall buildings on Montgomery Street, taken by D.
Me, taken by D.
Little K, taken by D.
D, taken by Little K.
I have K's voicemail number. But if there is anyone out there who can help get this woman and her children to shelter, a safe and warm place so they can be settled and happy, I can leave her a message with any information you might have.
Please, I am so serious about this.
We can do great things.
This might be one of those things.
Please contact me if you can be of any help at all.
I know you think I probably packed it in with the blogging stuff lately, but I've had good excuses... trust me.
Just no time to write them down!
Part of the excitement today (and yet another day away from the computer) is that I'm being interviewed for a local radio program about the i live here: SF project.
Which I'm totally psyched about... when I'm not freaking out over it.
Am I supposed to do voice exercises? Drink tea beforehand? Measure every word so that I don't say something totally moronic? What if my voice sounds like Betty Boop?
See, this would make you a tad apprehensive too. All I can say is that I'm so grateful it's radio so no one can see me.
If it goes well, I'll let you know more... otherwise, just pretend I never mentioned it!
Happy Free Friday (every day is Free Friday!)
Posted by tangobaby at 7:06 AM
Thursday, April 16, 2009
I'm sure you've watched this as many times as I have. I'm still crying though. I love this entire surprising fairy tale--that moment of incredible outpouring of adulation by every person in that theatre and me here at home getting sucked into the feeling too--and this brave woman, and her voice is singing constantly at Casa Tangobaby.
Bless her heart, can't they just declare her the winner and give her the prize?!
Monday, April 13, 2009
And I got to take their pictures... and we all lived Happily Ever After.
I never thought that being unemployed would make me even busier than usual, but in amongst filling out forms, looking for jobs, rewriting resumes and preparing for taxes (oy), I am even farther away from "normal" as possible.
I'll have some stories soon, I'm sure. But posting a pretty picture is better than nothing.
Hope your holiday weekend was wonderful...
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Last year, I wrote what I consider the best Easter post I could have possibly ever written, especially considering that I have virtually no experience celebrating Easter and only have vague, sad memories of undergoing severe candy deprivation as a child.
That Easter candy void in my life caused me to have an obsession with Peeps. Peeps... you know-- the marshmallow chicks.
Anyway, last year's post was so perfect and I can't imagine improving on it this year, so I'm reposting it today because I'm sure most of you never saw it the first go-around. And it might give you some ideas for today's festivities if you get your hands on some Peeps. Enjoy!
March 23, 2008
Professor Red Shoes recommended that I conduct a scientific experiment with a Peep, based on my previous post:
Tangobaby, you simply must microwave your next Peep. I'm not joking. Pop it in the microwave and set the thing for oh, thirty seconds or a minute. But here's the kicker: you must stay there and watch while it microwaves. Watch carefully.So I waited until this morning, because I felt this day would be most appropriate, and perhaps auspicious, for such an undertaking.
Here are the results and observations from my laboratory notebook.
Sunday, March 23, 8:20am: Peep is prepared on sanitary plate for insertion into microwave oven. Peep shows no sign of distress. See Figure 1.
Sunday, March 23, 8:21am: Microwave oven is set for 30 seconds, per Professor Red Shoes' instructions. Peep is placed directly in center of oven on rotating dish.
Sunday, March 23, 8:22am: 30 seconds has elapsed. Peep has undergone a transformation due to non-ionizing microwave radiation passing through the Peep, at a frequency of 2.45 GHz (wavelength of 12.24 cm). Please note brown speck of eye can still be seen, as well as a vestigial beak just to the left of remaining eye. See Figure 2.
During radation exposure, Peep inflated to Godzilla-like proportions, leading to further speculation that a kaijū may not be as fictional as we have been led to believe. See Figure 3.
Not to worry, though. My Godzilla Peep deflated within 2 seconds after re-entering normal atmospheric conditions. The Peep has transformed into more malleable creature. See Figure 4.
Conclusion: I am now aware that it is more fun to play with your Peeps than to eat them.
ps.: Only because it seems very fitting, if you have not read the book Candyfreak by Steve Almond, you should. It's really hilarious. Unless you don't like candy. And then I might be a teeny bit worried about you.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
I can't help giving a sneak peek from yesterday... now you know what can happen when two gorgeous people let you spend all day taking their photos... the sheer beauty breaks your camera! And you tango geeks out there should recognize my stunning subjects... I can't wait to finish this set of photos!
I won't be around a computer much at all this weekend, which is probably one of the reasons why people end up getting Twitter so that they can do little update-y things from somewhere else.
But since I'm not going to be a Twitterer, I just hope you all have a great weekend wherever you are. I have two photo shoots today and then all day with Grammy tomorrow (she is in the hospital).
So enjoy yourselves and the sunshine (if you have some). It's a bright and shiny day here in San Francisco. (And for those of you who already wrote emails or commented about my camera or the cable car ride yesterday, you brightened my day even more than the sunshine streaming in through our big window.)
And if you happen to be near a computer tomorrow, I do have my Easter post all revved up and ready to go.
ps.: This is the new camera, for the curious. And now I've got to dash... ta ta!
Friday, April 10, 2009
I've cried myself to sleep at night because of you. She's got you now. She wants you very badly doesn't she? She's willing to run away with you and keep on running and ruin everything for herself. But she wouldn't care because she'd be with you and that's what she wants. Well she doesn't have you now. She'll never have you. Nobody will ever have you! And that's the way I want it! You're nothing but an escaped convict. Nobody knows what you wrote down. They'll believe me! They'll believe me! ~ Madge Rapf from Dark Passage
Some of you may already know this, but one of my favorite Bogart noirs is Dark Passage. (I've written about our Dark Passage pilgrammage to Telegraph Hill before.)
Anyway, unbeknownst to The Boy and me until just the other day, one of the cable cars that Bogart rode on in the film is still in use and is, in fact, inscribed with the details inside the cable car.
As soon as The Boy and I heard that, we were impassioned to find that cable car and see for ourselves. But how to find it? There are many cable cars and many lines.
So today, I had to take the Powell Street car to my photo shoot (and later experienced the demise of my beloved PowerShot). About halfway up the hill, I remembered about Bogie and the cable car and looked up... and wouldn'tcha know it... right there! Look!
Now, what are the chances of that?! I don't think anyone else on the cable car even saw it, up above the cable car brakeman's head. It was my crazy cool start to a very exciting day.
Damn, I love this city.
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to bid farewell to a dear and constant friend, our trustworthy and true Canon PowerShot S5 1S. Your unexpected passing this afternoon was a bit of a shock, but we are grateful that you made it through an entire photo shoot before giving your spirit to the Ages.
Through rain and shine, from the first moment we held you in our hands, you made beautiful pictures. And now we lay you to rest, where you will shoot perfect images in Elysium and hosannas shall be sung in your name for eternity.
*angelic choir sings*
The Boy says I just wore the poor thing out, which is probably true.
The Boy had paid for a new camera before I even got across town to Tyler at Fireside Camera in the Marina. This new Canon has lots more bells and whistles, shoots in RAW and records HD video, and it took a lovely memorial photo of my dear, departed PowerShot.
Just in time for tomorrow.
Thank you, Boy and thank you little Canon PowerShot.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
For the time being, at least.
Whatever was clogging up my mental workings appears to have been coughed up and now I'm feeling much better, thank you.
Thank you for the many many kind and loving wishes, emails and comments. I'm sure that your special brand of patience and goodwill was a large part of my swift recovery.
It's a really funny paradox to feel angst over losing a job you didn't really like and you knew you should be leaving anyway. I guess my inner Control Freak, who would have much rather been the one to say See ya, wouldn't want to be ya! was disgruntled at not being given that opportunity, thus creating the mental hairball of fuzzy, dark depression. As a friend used to say to me, "here's another f*cking opportunity for growth and development."
But it's a new (rainy) day and I feel fine.
While I was in my funk, wearing stale sweats and eating plain rice, I kept revisiting my photos and my faces for i live here: SF and it was really the only thing that made me feel good. I realized that in this project, even though I consider it still quite new, I've been meeting articulate, passionate people who have taught me things I didn't know.
In meeting them, I've wandered parts of the city I hadn't been to before, favorite places of the people in the photos, places they wanted to share and have be part of their photographs. They told me about their lives, why they live here and what they care about. A lot of information for a first date, but all interesting and positive things.
For the most part, these people are total strangers to me before we meet. I have no idea what they look like. And then after a few minutes, they're showing me their favorite parts of San Francisco, and we're talking and sharing our thoughts and interests. And then at the end of the shoot, when I've edited their photos, when they are so excited about how their photos turned out and are so very very happy, I feel like a million bucks.
I just can't get over how cool and rewarding the whole experience is, and how much I love it and look forward to these meetings. For those of you who haven't yet met Cari or Megan, I hope you will stop by and see what they've written. And there's more in the pipeline, so that's really something I look forward to, and I hope you do too.
In this last week, I was really worried that I had run out of things to write about here at tangobaby. Even reading other blogs and leaving comments seemed like an effort, and that scared me because I love blogging, all aspects of it, and it made me sad to think that all of a sudden, that particular well of pleasure had dried up without warning.
But the thoughts are trickling back, and I know that the more I write, the more they'll start flooding back, and so relief is in sight there, too.
My mom has always been my biggest and best supporter, fan and understanding soul. A few weeks ago, even before all of this falderall with work, she sent me a check and told me to buy something for myself: batteries for the camera, a lipstick, whatever. It's from her little savings account, so that makes me feel guilty as heck even though I know it makes her happy to send me the money.
But I feel like at my age, I should be sending her money. So I hadn't cashed the check, thinking that I would save it to spend on her when she comes to visit me next time, or for a rainy day. The rainy day happened to be in my head though, and while I was sitting there, looking at my photos, I wanted desperately to do something with them that would make them look even prettier.
After a day of being tethered to my chair, I made this site below and I'm very proud of it. I used the money my mom gave me to buy the template and the domain name, and even if it's a total vanity project, I feel like I've really accomplished something and it cleared the dark clouds in my mind. I had no idea what I was doing when I started and by the end of it all, I was routing DNS thingys and hosts and things I still don't understand but it works.
See what you think (click on the logo to take you there). And thank you, mommy, because you were my first believer.
Monday, April 6, 2009
Well, I wish I could say that the first day of real unemployment was just like The Staycation but better... but I can't.
Things are not so hot here at Casa Tangobaby and even though you guys would all probably make me feel better if I went and visited you all, I just don't have the whatever it is right now to do that.
So play amongst yourselves and please do visit i live here: SF and tell all of your friends about it and follow it so you can get updates and all of that good and happy stuff because it's wonderful right now and I'm not wonderful right now.
But I totally love you guys and I'll see you soon.
It's not every day that you meet a person who is like a ray of sunshine in human form. The i live here: SF project is the gift that keeps on giving, for me. Just more connections that amaze and delight.
I think you will fall in love with her just like I did... how could I not?
(And thank you to Alex for bringing us together!)
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Thursday, April 2, 2009
As a followup to my last post, I'm adding some more Fiddler on the Roof material here that I had forgotten I had.
For those of you who have seen the film or the play, or have ever been in a theatrical production or have been forced to attend your favorite drama geek's plays, then you will truly get a kick out of the following stories. Plus, you guys responded so well to the story about my dad that I figured it would be okay to post another family member's antics.
[DISCLAIMER: If you snort coffee out of your nose, wet your pants, accidentally swallow your chewing gum or wake the baby from laughing, I warned you right now... this is some seriously funny stuff.]
My sister is one of those people who knew what her true calling was from about the age of five years old. She always has been, and still remains, a very talented actress (and I’m not just saying this because she’s my sister. I have actually spied on perfect strangers in the ladies’ room and on the mezzanine at intermission during her performances and have heard other people say very nice things about her.) She even gets paid to act, so I guess that fact says something in itself.
When my sister got the part of Chava in her repertory company’s production of Fiddler on the Roof, it was the absolute best thing that could have happened to my grandmother all year. She had won a coveted role in the most Jewish of all stage productions; my sister was representing Her People. My grandma made telephone calls to people she hadn’t spoken to in years just to let them know about our family’s rising star. I don’t know if this pre-show hooplah was as bad as saying “Macbeth” backstage, but this production turned out to be one of my sister’s more challenging performances.
What you are about to read is a running account of Fiddler’s preview for a regional professional repertory company, performed during a summer season in an outdoor theatre. Forget rehearsals, these are real shows, with real audiences. My sister e-mailed these tell-alls to me after each fateful night.
“Fiddler on the Spoof is what last night's performance should have been called because it was actually more of a take-off on the original Broadway hit, as opposed to a true representation. If Dad had been there, we would be planning his funeral now. He would have laughed so hard that we would not have been able to resuscitate him. I told you that the only thing that didn't happen was the two-story set crashing down on our heads and I meant it.
First, as I'm parking my car, I see my friend Kent pull up. Kent's blond, as is most of this Hitler Youth cast, and they all have to dye their hair brown for the show. Kent dyed his yesterday, and I almost lost all of my marbles when I saw him. He had screaming fuschia hair. He babbled, ‘The color was called Chestnut—I mean, I read the box! I have no idea what happened. It'll wash out in a week.’ It was actually more red than purple really, and so we all kept rubbing his head last night and speaking in Irish accents. We called him Lucky the Leprechaun, and when he walked by I'd whisper, ‘Green clovers, blue diamonds...’ you know, like from the cereal commercial?
And Kent’s hair certainly didn't match his fake beard, which all of the men have to glue on, except that there was only one bottle of glue and someone spilled it all over the table, so they had to scrape out what was left and use it, but there wasn't enough left. So as soon as everyone opened their mouths to sing the first note of "Tradition," all the beards and mustaches came loose and hung off of their faces.
During the beard fiasco, I tripped over the set (a new piece had been added since yesterday), and fell against the back wall, taking down the two little girls on either side of me. After the song was over, I waited for my entrance into the next scene where I have to come in from the barn, through the front door, and kiss the mezzuzah, ("She's in the barn milking" is my cue line), and when my line came up, I walked in from the bedroom on accident (another new set change), realized that I was already in the house, said "OH!", backed up and walked around the back of the set, and then came through the front door.
Um, can anyone say professional actor?
Can anyone say out-of-work actor?
But Lucky reassured me and reminded me that it was just a preview, and I felt better.
But then we came out in our next scene to sing “Matchmaker” where we dance with these mops, and it was really wet from the fog, and the set people had finished painting the stage really late the night before, so the floor was kind of tacky and our mops stuck to the floor and so we spent the entire song trying to get them unstuck. We would tug and pull on the mops and pretend like it was part of the dance, and a couple of times we pulled too hard, and the mops slipped out of our hands and crashed to the floor. We would try to grab them before they crashed to the floor and killed the floor mikes and that didn't look very much like a dance.
In the next scene, my sister Hodel had a spider on her face. I tried to tell her and brushed my own face, but she didn't get it. So in the part of the scene where we're supposed to be quietly talking, I whispered to her, "There's a spider on your face." She totally screamed and started smacking her own face, trying to get it off. ("This is Tevye's mentally challenged daughter—even she gets married.")
Then there was the Sabbath, when we light the candles and sing the Sabbath song and it's very beautiful. Except for last night. After Hodel freaked about the spider, we all gathered around Golde who had the candles and the "Strike Anywhere" matches. "Strike anywhere" except for when it's not foggy and wet, I should say. She went through about fifteen matches, all of which broke, blew out, or never lit, and the audience roared. What a sacred moment.
Another tragedy was the bottle dance in the wedding scene. The costumer had set a foundation of hot glue on the top of the men's hats, and right before they were to go on, she hit their bottles with hot glue so that when they went on stage with the bottle and placed it on their head, the bottle would stick but it would look like they were really doing to dance (you see, the dance hasn't gone particularly well so far.) Anyway, the glue dried before the dancers could stick the bottle to the glue base on the hat, and because there was a big chunk of glue there now instead of a flat surface, the bottles wouldn’t stay on at all, and the dance ended up being about catching falling bottles. The audience laughed a lot, and so did we. The audience was very forgiving about a lot of things last night.
But soon, we'll be a little more polished, I hope. The set isn't finished and neither are the costumes. Rabbi's son, Mendel, wore his prayer shawl last night with jeans and hiking boots.”
“Opening night was a great show, and so was Sunday, although the energy level was a bit lower, it was still really strong. Friday, however, is Fiddler on the Spoof: the Sequel. It's entitled Fiddler Off the Roof, or Dead Fiddler.
Yes, that's right, folks, our littler fiddler almost bit it hard! Teetering on the edge of our two-story set, we thought for sure it was the end of her, but she recovered her balance and went right on fiddling. That would definitely have been a very tragic, and very abrupt, ending to Fiddler on the Roof.
The play also could have been entitled Dead Sister Hodel. As we were walking onstage for the Sabbath prayer, Hodel was in front of me, walking forward with her head turned back and talking to me ("la la la") and then SLAM! Walked right into the huge wooden pillar that holds up the second story of our set. She wavered a bit, and then I came from behind and led her over to the Sabbath table. Laughing hysterically, of course, but mutely also. You know, just silently convulsing?
So, after the scene, we are backstage, and everyone is really having a good laugh riot back there at poor Hodel's expense, and she's laughing too, now that she's got her vision back. She starts to focus for the next scene by touching up her makeup. I said to her, "Holly, that's a really pretty lipstick. What color is that?" and she says to me, "Why thank you. It's called ‘Blue Shed’."
"Blue Shed!" I say. "What a weird name for a lipstick! Who makes it?"
"L’Oreal," she says. "It is kind of a strange name... Blue Shed." So then Victoria grabs the lipstick and looks at the sticker on the bottom, and says "Um, you mean Blushed?! It's called Blushed, for Chrissakes." Uproarious laughter once again.
I get up from my chair and start walking away, turn back to Holly and the others and say, "Why thank you. It's called Blue Shed" and ram myself into the wooden pillar in our dressing room and then we were off!! There was no stopping the torrent of torment! Holly took it well, but we were all in such a silly mood that anything would start us laughing hysterically. You know how sometimes you get in those moods? When Tzeitel was told that she had to marry the butcher Lazar Wolf, we laughed. When the pogrom ruined the wedding, we laughed. When Hodel went to Siberia, we laughed. When Dad excommunicated me, we laughed. And when Hodel crossed the stage, slipped on a wet patch, slid the rest of the stage, landed on her bum and kicked a tin milk bucket out into the audience, boy, did we laugh.
I can't remember much else happening but that was definitely enough for me. The Fiddler’s mustache was hanging by a hair, literally a hair, during the whole wedding scene.”
“Fiddler on the Goof was definitely Sunday's rendition of the Broadway original. The first two numbers were sung and danced to without any music at all. Well, the music was playing, but the monitors weren't hooked up correctly, so the microphones amplifying our voices were working but the monitors that amplified the music of the orchestra weren’t. So everyone danced around, thudding loud feet on the floor, and it looked absolutely ridiculous. The cast could hear a slight whisper of music when we were very quiet, but the audience couldn't at all. At one point, as we were singing and dancing around to nothing, we got off beat on the song, and everyone stopped singing and dancing and just looked at each other. Some tried to go on, some remained silent and frozen. We all looked at each other, and everyone got real quiet and listened to the music. When we got a listen to where we were in the song, we all finished off the number and ran for our lives.
I was freakin' after this, saying how I was not going to go out there and sing "Matchmaker" a capella because it's hard enough for me to even sing with the music. I might sing all the wrong notes and then I would have a nervous breakdown in front of all those people who paid money to take their minds off of having their own nervous breakdowns. As we sisters came out to sing our number, it was tense. You could cut the air with a knife. Our lines came out reading "dread, dread, dread," and as the song began, I bit my lip and told myself this was a sign that I should not be doing musical theatre! However, the moment I opened my mouth to sing my first solo note, there was a pop, and the music swelled through theatre, loud and delicious, more beautiful than the singing of angels, or those chicks from the Iliad, or the Odyssey, or whatever. You know, the sirens.
The little girl who plays my sister was being so loud and obnoxious before the show was to start that the props manager tied her to the prop table for a half an hour. She cried, but it was very funny and we laughed behind her back.
So, back to the show. At intermission, someone brought the actors a huge fruit platter to enjoy, and there was a swarm of people around it. One of the really big, fat, disgusting men in our show volunteered that there was also the Sabbath Challah to eat, the prop loaf of bread that we use in our show. I saw that he had already almost gone through half of the bread, and I said, "That's LACQUERED! You can't eat that—it's toxic...poison...bad." He looked at it, his mouth open, drool falling from the left corner of his mouth, shrugged and said "tastes OK to me" and finished off the chunk in his hand. Unfortunately, nothing bad happened to him, but he did seem to cough a few times, teeter when he walked, and make a few gagging retching noises. He does that anyway, but in this particular instance, it sent all of us who knew he ate the decoupage loaf into absolute hysterics.
The Fiddler's mustache fell off yet again, only this time it did not land in the hole in her violin. Too bad.
I've got to do a bit of work now, but there's another show tonight and I'm sure it was be chock full of humiliating things for me to entertain you with tomorrow.”
"Fiddler on the Doof: Well, unfortunately for my readers, the show doesn't stink like it used to. Actually, it only stinks in short spurts and then it goes back to being mediocre. Last night, however, it was both a full moon and the beginning of mating season for the dogs in the neighborhood of the outdoor Forest theatre. We actually had to stop at one point and wait for the dogs to finish. Not only could we not be heard above that racket, but we were certainly not the focus of the audience's attention either. I'd be pissed if I spent 15 bucks to see a play, and the only thing I heard were a bunch of dogs makin' it on the side of the theatre. Anyway, this happened three times. It was really like a part of the show after the third time, and we tried to get the canines to come and take a bow with us at curtain call, but they were shy.
During the wedding scene, this huge white moth (let's call it a bat for descriptive purposes) kept swooping down onto the stage and up into the lights and causing a general distraction (not like the dogs weren't bad enough). Well, at one point, the moth dive-bombed Tzeitel, the bride. The moth fell to the floor, staggered a bit, and then flew up her dress. I should have truly just left the stage at this point, but I persevered. As she started to shift and wiggle, I stared straight ahead and thought of dead puppies.
Then, as Tevye started to sing his solo in “Sunrise, Sunset,” I noticed him get really stiff and tense. Now, let me preface this by telling you that before the show, when Tevye was putting on his makeup we heard him say "Oh WOW!" and he came out to tell us what an amazingly huge spider there was in his dressing room. We could really call it a bat, too, except it doesn't fly, so we'll just call it a cat for descriptive purposes. Anyway, he held tours and took admission, and we all filed in one-by-one to see this monstrous “cat.” It was on the wall, right next to the black robe he wears in the wedding scene (the plot becomes clear now, yes?) So back to the song... Tevye was singing, he later recalled to us, when he felt a tremendous bead of sweat roll down the back of his neck and into his shirt. He thought, "Wow, I'm really sweating."
"But then," he said, "the sweat started to go back up my neck and I thought sweat rolls down, not up!!!" He pondered this freak of nature for a moment and then fear just slapped him in the face. "Oh my God! It's that nasty spider! I'm going to die!" He continued with his song, but truly freaked out and stripped down at intermission. What a professional.
In spite of the hopes and dreams of the entire cast, the lecherous twisted man who ate the lacquered Challah bread did not die. He didn't even get sick. However, he did give such a terrible performance last night he didn't stay for curtain call, which is the most wonderful thing that's ever happened to me because it was the one night where I didn't have to hear the sound of his zipper as we all undress after the show. I didn't have to try to stop myself from picturing him standing in his nasty underwear behind me and feeling the tickle of his crusty leg hair as he got as close to me as possible while he was changing. It was a banner evening.
Okay, there's the brief (speaking of underwear) and now I've got to go!”
Right now my baby sister is a mommy with two little babies of her own (Little Curly Girl and Princess Chubness) but perhaps when they get a little older, someone in that house will make it back onto the stage (LCG is looking promising) and then I'll have more theatre stories to share with you.
So I guess I'm the only one here at the office who ever watched Fiddler on the Roof as a child, let alone watched it every few weeks growing up.
With all of the long faces and shuffling about and packing up desks and us talking about our future plans, I can't help singing "Anatevka" in my mind.
I was thinking we could put on an office version of the play, but no one here has a babushka. *sigh*
More than a ps.: THANK YOU SO MUCH for your wonderful, sweet, kind comments and emails and the ones with the swearing, especially. So you'll NOT worry, I'm going to be here as a contractor two days a week, for the next few weeks, and I've filled out all of my unemployment stuff and now am going to figure out the rest of what I'll be doing. So thank you for all of the encouragement and pats on the back and hugs and all the rest of that good stuff. Thank you!
AND, if that wasn't enough, I just got my first installment of Gwyneth Paltrow's newsletter. I can't wait to be enlightened! Italics don't quite convey the excitement quivering through my body at the thought of reading what Gwyneth has to share with me.
AND, if that wasn't enough, last night I got engaged to my little friend Chipmonkey over drinks at the Clock Bar (she treated me to a Ginger Rogers and some truffle popcorn). Chipmonkey is going to marry me so that I will have health care and not have to pay $389 a month for COBRA, which is insane.
Even though little Chipmonkey is already married to Mike, we're going to figure something out. She even bought me a ruby ring made of candy. See?
See? Everything's working out so well already! In just a day, I already have a future wife, no health insurance and a lollipop ring.