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Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Unbirthday and the Ungoodbye

"I could tell you my adventures — beginning from this morning," said Alice a little timidly: "but it's no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then." ~ from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Through the Looking Glass


Little Curly Girl is Three.
Very grown up.


We had a Very Special Unbirthday Party this weekend.

Little Curly Girl was our Alice and we visited Wonderland with her. We talked to the Cheshire Cat. (I was the Voice.) We wore all sorts of hats and had a Mad Hatter's Tea Party. We opened presents and threw colored tissue paper all over the floor.

"Well, if I eat it, and if it makes me grow larger, I can reach the key; and if makes me grow smaller, I can creep under the door: so either way I'll get into the garden, and I don't care which happens!" ~ from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

We talked to the snapdragons and looked at the pansy faces in the garden. The snapdragons asked to please please have some Unbirthday Cake but Alice had to tell them politely that they wouldn't be able to eat any cake because flowers have no teeth.

The flowers were very understanding but you could tell they were disappointed.


"At last the Dodo said, 'everybody has won, and all must have prizes.' " ~ from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland


The best prize of all was to be in the Divine Presence of Princess Chubness, who is now six months old.

She embodies joy, wonder and happiness. She truly does.
No one can take their eyes off of her. She is the happiest person we've ever met.


"If you drink much from a bottle marked 'poison' it is almost certain to disagree with you, sooner or later." ~ from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

The other part of the story is the visit to see Little Helen: a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother to us. We wished that part of the story was happy but it was not. And there are no pictures of it, because it is not something we would want a picture of.

It's a difficult thing to watch someone fade away. I've never done that before.

It's even harder when that person seems to be giving up on living and we can't figure out why. We were angry and frustrated. Our Unbirthday Girl was frightened when she saw Little Helen and then hid in her mother's arms. Her mom had to take her outside.

I think we all believed in the power and beauty of Little Curly Girl and Princess Chubness, having watched them laugh and play and be so alive, that-- in the whole wide world, these girls could work a miracle and bring Little Helen to her senses, to make her want to eat (because she won't) and get well. If not for us, then for her great-grandchildren. That we would have another happy story besides The Unbirthday.

But there are times when things will be the way they are and no amount of hoping can make it any different. Some people will go down a rabbit hole where we cannot follow.

The Boy has a saying that I always remember:

"You can't make unhappy people happy. You can only make happy people happier."

I wished things would have been different for all of us. I don't know how much longer Little Helen will be around, and this is probably the last time I'll write about her. It feels like she's given up on herself, and in doing so, has left us all behind much earlier than we would have wished.


'You are old, Father William,' the young man said,
'And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head —
Do you think at your age it is right?'

~ from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Separating the wheat from the chaff

outside City Hall last night


Oh no! I've lost three "followers" since yesterday. Quel dommage. Hopefully they're back to knitting tea cozies and fervently praying that their God didn't notice they were reading my blog for a while (Please, don't pray for me. I'll take my chances.). Guess they didn't want to get lumped in with the wrong crowd, eh? LOL.

My ego is sufficiently inflated enough to hope that I might be impinging on the happy fantasy worlds of a few others by showing my support that all people, of all races and sexes deserve to be treated equally by the laws that govern all of us. But I'm just a tiny voice in the world, so I can't say that I have that much power to disillusion someone who is already deluded. These folks better turn up their televisions a bit louder to drown out the voice of outrage, because my tiny voice is now amplified with all the other tiny voices that demand a nation where all people are valued and recognized.

"From the equality of rights springs identity of our highest interests; you cannot subvert your neighbor's rights without striking a dangerous blow at your own." ~ Carl Schurz


I wish I could write more today. But read Mark Morford's column. With any luck, I'll lose a few more brain-and-heart shackled followers in some Guilt By Association with a columnist who says it like it is. Go Mark!

And I probably won't be around a computer much for the rest of the week. Things are not good with Little Helen healthwise and my Bunny needs me. I'm not sure how much longer my grandma is going to be around.

But I did upload the photos from yesterday's evening protest. You can see them here.

This photo below is my favorite. I don't know who this girl is, but we just caught each other at the same time. Two random people passing at a particular moment in history.

I call this one Picture a Protest.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

just another straight white girl for gay marriage

It felt good to get out on the streets and be with lots and lots and lots of other people who know that you can't legislate love, you can't legislate what a family is, and that separate is not fucking equal.

My feet hurt (we walked a lot), my back is sore (ditto), but my heart feels better.

This proposition is going to get turned around. Maybe not tomorrow, or the next day. But it will.
The hateful dinosaurs will be extinct soon. Their day in the sun is ENDING.

More later... it took forever to get home. Let's say public transportation was not running the way it should tonight.


And justice for...

in Chinatown


Prop 8 was upheld. I wish I could say I was surprised (sadly, I'm not) but I can't say that I don't have a stomach ache now. Because I do. This is pathetic.

Fucking pathetic.

But in their infinite wisdom, our state Supreme Court judges are allowing the marriages that have already taken place to stand. How can they rule on both sides of the issue like that? It makes absolutely no sense at all.

Let's chalk another one up for the Mormon Church and fanatical religious zealots all over. I'm so disgusted right now. I just don't have anything else to say.

Go to Courage Campaign and do what you can. If other states can have equal marriage rights, why can't California?


"War. Rape. Murder. Poverty. Equal rights for gays. Guess which one the Southern Baptist Convention is protesting?" ~ The Value of Families

Monday, May 25, 2009

In my next life, I want to be British

Brian & Eileen's Wedding Music Video. from LOCKDOWN projects on Vimeo.

I daresay that this video is like 99.9% as good as the Susan Boyle video.

This video also made me question my almost terminal wedding phobia and also made me totally miss Freddie Mercury. I am going to have to listen to Queen's Greatest Hits all day today.

If the above statements weren't enough to make you watch this video, then you are a party pooper.


ps.: The picnic was fun, even though it was bloody freezing and the sun never came out. But K was always surrounded by a few people, talking quietly, and I loved looking over to see her smile or laugh at times. That was mostly what I wanted, so that she felt like real people were there to meet her and care about her. I never saw the kids at all, they were on the playground for hours. They ran over once or twice to inhale some food and then to dash off again.

And meeting a few people that I've only corresponded with via email or spoken to on the phone... gosh, I love that. And Gabby drove for hours just to be with us. What a sweetheart. You have no idea how cool this guy is (well, if you read his blog, you do!). And Nancy came early and kept me company and helped me carry all of the food to the park. Thank you! And then Greg and I watched Dark Passage at my house afterwards.

And apparently the trick to the best brownies ever (no, it's not that, silly) is 3/4 cup of Nutella added to the mix. Best brownies EVAH. Sarah, you're awesome! And not just because of the brownies. I'm so glad I know you.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

mi causa es su causa

How badly do I want this Matt Diffee t-shirt?


"There are no accidents in my philosophy. Every effect must have its cause. The past is the cause of the present, and the present will be the cause of the future. All these are the links in the endless chain stretching from the finite to the infinite." ~ Abraham Lincoln


"Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to continually be part of unanimity." ~ Christopher Morley


"In all affairs it's a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted." ~ Bertrand Russell


Tomorrow some lovely FOTs (Friends of Tangobaby) are turning out for a little celebration.

A picnic in the park to meet K and the kids, eat some sandwiches, play on the swings and just hang out with a little family that is long overdue in the Friend Department.

Of course it's foggy, windy and freezing cold today (yet another summer day in San Francisco!) but, sunshine or not, we're off to picnic on Sunday.


The title of this post, a riff on mi casa es su casa and a nod to one of the greatest scenes in Pulp Fiction (not that I'm at the Eric Stoltz level of dress and/or coolness), is because while I realize that not everything I care about or think about is required reading or pondering by anyone else, for those who choose to take up my causes once in a while, unasked-- just jumping in and saying, What can I do?... those people make me so glad to know that I'm not kicking around in a vacuum.

Looking back on this holiday in years to come, I'll remember this particular Memorial Day weekend also as a group of strangers who became friends because they wanted to serve another, just by being kind.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

a new day

somewhere in the Lower Haight, I don't remember where


What I'm listening to this morning, a new day:

1. Little Helen is out of the ICU, and they've given her some medicine that is helping her breathe and she's feeling better and is eating a little, too.
2. I'm going to see K today, take her to lunch, talk about our apartment hunting progress, give her big hugs, hold the baby, and maybe do a little shopping with her.

As much as it is helpful to sort words out and write things down, your comments and emails and wishes help Little Helen and K even more than they do me.

I will call my grandma later and tell her about the kind people (YOU) who send their love, and I know it will make her happy. And K as well, I will give her hugs from all of you.

But first I'm gonna go outside, get some sunshine on my face and look for something beautiful.


Monday, May 18, 2009


on Haight Street

The days where you take one step forward, and then two steps back... this is one of those times.

Little Helen, my grandma, is back in ICU today as of 3:30am. She finally finally got out of the hospital just days ago (again), and was doing much better (again), and was looking forward to getting back home in time to meet Baby Princess Chubness for the first time ever, and hopefully going to LCG's birthday celebration. My little curly girl niece will be three years old next week.

And my poor Bunny. I won't even go into it but this is the first time the conversation contained the letters DNR. Do Not Resuscitate.

dnr dnr dnr

My brain is so tired. I'm still a little bit sick so it makes me even more tired. Some days you just want to sit in a corner and stare at the wall.

I wasn't sure what else I wanted to say about this development, because there's really nothing one can say, or do, about the situation. Little Helen will either get a tiny bit better and maybe she'll get out of the hospital, which is becoming more difficult with each return visit, or she'll get worse and then that will be it. DNR.

But I found this poem. And in keeping with the post I wrote on Sunday, I think it is a continuation on a theme.

The Dash Poem

by Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning to the end

He noted that first came the date of her birth
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years

For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not how much we own;
The cars, the house, the cash,
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard.
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left,
That can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger,
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect,
And more often wear a smile
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy is being read
With your life’s actions to rehash
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

An Embarrassment of Riches

"It is an unfortunate human failing that a full pocketbook often groans more loudly than an empty stomach." ~ Franklin Delano Roosevelt


I don't know what it is exactly about my particular malady of the moment, but despite the fact that I cannot seem to stay awake for more than an hour or two during the day, at night I have these vivid, crazy dreams or my mind is awake and filled with essays and far-flung ideas that all seem to connect, as if I have a high fever. But I'm not feverish at all. My head hurts and I can't put my mind to rest after dark. I'm becoming a creature of the night.

After tossing and turning for over an hour, plus it's quite warm here now (75º at 12:42am as I write this), I've decided to just write write write until I can go back to sleep again.

***frieze above the Villa Taverna, Hotaling Place
a private club where only being rich makes you worthy

I'm thinking a lot about having money, about not having money, and what having an extreme amount of money does to atrophy the human heart. For the past thirteen years, I've been working for and around extremely wealthy people, mostly women. I've been culling these snippets and observations for such a long time now, at first fascinated by a world that most of us will never have entree to, and now have left it for good, with a reserve of disgust built up by what I've seen. It's a specific segment of the ruling class, and by no means a statement on those philanthropists who use their wealth to improve lives, but to those petty lesser nobles whose only cares run the gamut of designer shops, country clubs, spas, bridge games and gossip.

I think about this now, as my iPhone beeps daily with little sweet messages from K and the kids over the past week: Aunty Julie, we LOVE you. Get well soon! Aunty Julie, we miss you! BIG hugs!!!

I miss them, too.

I am so fortunate. I cannot think of a single wealthy woman I've ever met (except with one brilliant and generous exception) who would have helped K. In fact, those who have been in a position to help in a profound way have completely ignored my story.

Most of these women (and again, I haven't much experience with the husbands, just the wives) are obsessed with their appearance and are deathly afraid of aging (is that the precursor to losing the husband who pays all the bills?). Plastic surgery aside, getting facials, manicures, pedicures, eyelash tinting, eyelash extensions, hair color, blowouts, massages, fat reduction ... all of these sometimes weekly activities, not counting the endless hours of private designer trunk shows at Neimans, Saks and Chanel, tea parties, socials and the like... a life so unexamined leaves little time for anything of substance. In fact, it renders many helpless, if not downright ignorant (why learn to use a computer if you can have someone use it for you? Or even possess the skill to write a complete sentence, for that matter?). Of course a staff is needed to cook and clean and maintain the home so it looks like a perfect hotel, not to mention the retinue of gardeners that are on site five days a week.

One employer who begrudged me a measly $2 hourly increase in pay and never failed to mention it with a sigh ("I never paid my previous assistant as much as I pay you"), as if I was robbing her blind, as I filed her numerous bank statements, each account holding monies well into the millions, had three closets. One contained only shoes from floor to ceiling, the cheapest pair starting at around $400, and many of them unworn because her bunions were too painful. How many trips did I make to the shoe repair man to have these perfect shoes stretched to accommodate growing bunions? And still she made a hobby of buying expensive shoes she couldn't wear.

Again, I am fortunate. That sort of wealth without the heart or mind to claim some common sense and decency instead creates a prison of the soul. These people are so afraid of not having money that they're probably worse off than people who really are impoverished. Not having money means not having the right friends, power and position in "society." It sounds very Jane Austen-ish, and it is. Nothing much has changed in that regard where position and money rule. At one time, I thought I'd write my own version of The Nanny Diaries, and capitalize on the inanity I've been exposed to, but when I think about it now, I realize these people just aren't worthy of my attention any longer. I am grateful for that.

I am looking forward to feeling better soon (!) so I can see my little family of friends again. This week Aunty Julie will be ready for them, BIG hugs having been stored up for days on end.

Full of riches that don't cost a cent but that still can't be bought at any price.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Explosive Laugh Alert: Do Not Drink Hot Liquids While Taking This Poll

Muchos gracias to Mari for posting about this contest. Go visit The Mudflats to choose your favorite title. I really had totally banned myself from reading anything political in past months, even curtailing my Daily Show intake, just because I really had OD'ed so badly last year.

This image made me realize that I probably am missing out on some laughs during my self-imposed internment from the bizarre political landscape. (I voted for Winkin', Blinkin' and Todd. But it was VERY hard to choose, go on... you'll see. BTW, the contest ends tomorrow.)

I'm still sick but have not taken a single nap yet today, which feels like a huge health improvement breakthrough. And my iPhone has not disappeared again. Perhaps the tsetse fly has moved on!


ps.: Fabulous book cover image from Mudflats post. I used to read this blog often when SP appeared out of nowhere, and it's really a great blog.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A tsetse fly stole my iPhone

Phylum: Arthropoda
Subsection: Calyptratae
Superfamily: Hippoboscoidea


I have to write this post very quickly before I become narcoleptic again. It happens so suddenly these days.

But for the record:


Other than that, life is peachy.


When I was in grade school, there was a National Geographic or NOVA program that made quite an impression on me. It must have been about Africa, or bugs, or bad things that happen to people in Africa when around certain kinds of bugs because that is when I learned about the tsetse fly and sleeping sickness, otherwise known as Human African trypanosomiasis.

I especially became enamored of the word tsetse (you know how little kids are) and although I don't ever intend to get sleeping sickness and obviously I wouldn't wish this disease on anyone, whenever I catch one of these little colds that renders me unconscious for days in a row, I just figure I've been bitten by a tsetse fly's lesser cousin.

To the extent that my imaginary tsetse fly bite has made me cognitively useless for an entire week so far, I also could not find my cell phone for a solid day. I figured that the fly stole it, but then hours later I found the phone hiding in my bed between my duvet and my blankie.

(Yes, this is one of those silly posts that I occasionally write when in altered mental states caused by various illnesses. Normally I would go full on into Woody Allen mode right now, like this post or this post but today I am leaning more towards science. I wish I could write a real post today but that is not to be... I will have to blame my dearth of ideas on the tsetse fly as well.)

And on that note, I am off to make my 250th cup of tea.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Play the New SF Game! All MUNI Riders Can Win!

I think this is brilliant. From the brand new site, "Where's Gavin?"
And thanks to Greg of the much beloved N-Judah Chronicles for posting this first.

I wonder if any of us can actually win this game? I sure could use a free Fast Pass.


We’re looking for Mayor Gavin Newsom. Have you seen him? We know he talks a good game on Muni and transit in our fair city, the City and County of San Francisco. But why doesn’t he also walk the walk? His advocacy and leadership for Muni has been noticeably absent even though, deep in his heart, he must know that the truly green choice is non-car transportation. So what are we to do? Apparently he has the lock on the capitulating Supes and just doesn’t get it:

When asked what he thinks about the fact that Muni riders are paying more than drivers in this budget (estimates say the ratio is 4 to 1), Newsom responded that’s only true “when the budget is taken out of context” and argued that over the years “it’s been fairly balanced.”

In order to make this mistake, he must be a car guy. But there is some hope! We only have this clue from the Chronicle:

He also rides Muni incognito, disguised in a baseball cap, and walks when he can, said his spokesman Nathan Ballard.

But going incognito means we can’t find him. So can you help us find him? Only you, the riders of our beloved San Francisco Municipal Railway, can find Gavin going incognito. And to get you excited, check out the sidebar to see what prizes you could win! The deep and resounding question of our time is not “Where’s Waldo?” It’s “Where’s Gavin?”


I'm still sick but this game did brighten my day a bit. Now off for some more tea. I stole the graphic off of the Where's Gavin site because it's better than the only photo I've got of him.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Full of Life

Meet Kathleen.


Kathleen is my newest subject for i live here: SF. What I loved about her was her complete openness and love of life. We had so much fun on her photo shoot, just talking and sharing stories. Despite the sad story I've been immersed in lately, I still see that the world is full of people who love their life and share that enthusiasm with others.

While you're over there reading about Kathleen, I'm lying low... I've either just caught a cold or else am trying NOT to catch one, but either way I see a big bowl of chicken soup in my future and some naps.

Catch you later, guys.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

What you helped us do on Mother's Day

Because of YOUR generosity and love and care, K and the kids got to spend all of Mother's Day at the zoo. (We-- meaning all of us-- got them a membership so they can go as often as they like over the next year. The kids LOVE the animals... thank you!)

We saw giraffes and zebras and flamingoes and lions and tigers and goats and ...

We played in the petting zoo and ate hot dogs (the goats got pellets) and had ice cream and juice...

And swung on the swings and slid on the slides. Just the normal happy things that moms and kids should get to do... and they loved every minute of it.

Thank you for your continued generosity and love. YOU are the people that are making a difference.

My Bunny

"Grown don't mean nothing to a mother. A child is a child. They get bigger, older, but grown? What's that suppose to mean? In my heart it don't mean a thing." ~ Toni Morrison, Beloved


My mother in high school.
Isn't she pretty?

Mom and me.


I don't remember exactly how old I was when I started calling my mom Bunny. I do call her Mommy too, but somehow Bunny (like as a cute bunny rabbit, not a WASP-y Bunny from the country club set) is what sounds right.

I have thought a lot about mothers lately. And the children they love. As you might have noticed.

Not being a mother myself, I still feel a mom-ness coming out in me when I am with K and her kids.

I think if it wasn't for my Bunny, I wouldn't even know how to go about helping K at all.


My Bunny is the person who made me who I am today.

Boy, am I grateful.

Thank you, Mommy. Thank you, Bunny.

I love you for eternity.


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Have you seen these guys?

Meet Gene, Mark, Christine and Augustus.

These guys are over at my other blog... you remember that one? It's still cool but it's been lonely. Go say hi.


Friday, May 8, 2009

While You Were Out

Dear Gavin,

I hope you had fun in Washington DC yesterday, meeting with all of those important people in our nation's capital. Are they helping you out with your gubernatorial campaign? How was the Victory Garden Tour at the White House?

Well, I just wanted to keep you up to date with some things you might have missed out on since you're not in town too much these days. Even though your schedule says you're in your office today, I didn't see you when I was outside City Hall this morning.

Maybe you didn't realize this, but today there was a press conference on the steps of City Hall by homeless mothers. Apparently, homeless mothers in the community have been trying to meet you for over two years to talk about housing and issues that affect their families, but somehow you're never available to meet with them...

Here are some of the kids that your mayorship affects with the city's lack of transitional and low income housing for families...

Little kids living in one room SROs in Chinatown (7 people living in one room? That's insane.)

Mothers worried about how they'll survive each day.

People holding up a banner that reads "housing is a right, not a privilege."

Rachel and Lisa from helpamotherout.org were there. They have a diaper drive to help mothers who need the basics and can't get them because there aren't enough services. Did you know that there isn't even ONE diaper bank in the entire city of San Francisco?

Lisa, Rachel and I had to leave after the press conference to meet with K and bring her some diapers, formula, blankets and other items for the baby. But another concerned mom from Badgermama went up to your offices with the rest of the crowd and here is what she reported about being outside of your office for an hour:

I went up to the Mayor's Office with about 20 people. They kicked us out of the office and said that the one woman who can access the mayor's schedule was in a meeting. We waited in the hall outside the Mayor's office for over an hour.

Finally a guy came out and all he did was take a phone number down and promise that someone would call the coalition to make an appointment. Everyone had to leave, the children were restless, the ABC reporter split off some of the most involved folks to get them to go with him and a cameraman to someone's apartment in Chinatown where 7 people live in 1 room.

I played with children in the hallway so that moms could talk to the cameras some more...

So there you go, Gavin... just a little recap of the stuff going on right outside your door, fyi.

UPDATE 7:44pm: Here is the news segment that aired on KGO tonight.


On an entirely different note...

Kelly! These animals were a HUGE HIT!!! The kids LOVE them! Thank you so much!!! They told me to say thank you! They immediately started playing and hugging them. So adorable. You knew exactly what to get.



Thursday, May 7, 2009

a sea change

sea change

  1. A change caused by the sea: "Of his bones are coral made:/Those are pearls that were his eyes:/Nothing of him that doth fade,/But doth suffer a sea change" (Shakespeare).
  2. A marked transformation: "The script suffered considerable sea changes, particularly in structure" (Harold Pinter).
1. a striking change, as in appearance, often for the better.
2. any major transformation or alteration.


at the Palace of Fine Arts
lingering memories from
the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition

Last night I went to sleep much too late. It must have been an exceptionally foggy night because the fog horn moans were much longer and deeper than I remember them sounding. Even being so many blocks away from the ocean, it made me wonder and appreciate 1. how loud those horns must be to the people that live closer to them, and 2. how many maritime disasters were averted over the years by the sounds of these horns, hidden in the fog but providing a necessary warning to those who might stray into harm's way.


When I was a little girl, I had a Viewmaster-- you know, that plastic gadget that you insert a reel of slides in and look through the eyeholes. My favorite reel was the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and aside from the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, my favorite Wonder was the Lighthouse at Alexandria.

With its height, its fire and reflective mirrors, that lighthouse not only marked an incredible achievement in engineering but also provided an invaluable alert to avoid danger and destruction and loss of life.


Fog horns and lighthouses. Keeping strange travelers safe from harm.


I just have to tell you that things are better today with K and the kids. I know you were worried and so was I, and despite the fact that I won't say more about the past few days, you should know now that the sun is shining and we are back on track.

Last night, as I laid in bed and listened to the fog horns, I thought about the phrase a sea change and pondered what exactly it meant. Truly, meeting K and the kids has provided the basis for an alchemical change in me, how I see the world around me, what my opinions are about people and their nature, how I see this city from a different vantage point and perhaps how cities in general function or do not.

All of these things are good. I think some of you were worried that in my efforts to help K, that I am not taking care of myself or am putting her welfare above my own. Yes, and no. As a hedonist and selfish person, I'll never fully be able to not consider my own happiness. However, my happiness is surely linked to others and I don't find that to be a bad state of affairs. What you might read here, whether it is frustration, sadness, anger, hope or love, is true and real.

I would rather write something abrasive and honest because I have experienced it, then not to write it at all. Those who can take it and understand will stick with me, and those who can't won't, and that's fine too.

But those lighthouses and fog horns are real. We all need to see them and listen to them. For this one little family living on the edges of a world that doesn't see them, there are many many others who also need help. I think we need to start small.

I think we can all be fog horns and lighthouses in ourselves. Even if it is to guide one other person, we can do that.


ps.: The PayPal button will be up again shortly. Use it if you can.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

How are you celebrating Mother's Day?

If you are doing something for Mother's Day, I bet it involves celebrating with a roof over your head...

Will I be at City Hall on Friday with my camera taking a sh*tload of photos and finding more families to talk to? Hell YES.

Coincidence? Perfect timing... whatever it is, it's also pathetic. Will I see you there, too? City Hall on Friday.


For Immediate Release Press Contact:

May 5, 2009 Miguel Carrera, 415-346-3740 x 319

Jennifer Friedenbach, 415-346-3740 x306



When: Friday, May 8, 2009, 11:00

Where: Steps of City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton Goodlett Place, San Francisco

What: Homeless mothers are holding a press conference to decry the lack of response from the Mayor’s office on the doubling of homeless families in San Francisco since the recession.

San Francisco—San Francisco, like cities across the nation, is seeing a dramatic spike in the number of families requesting emergency shelter. The city of San Francisco has enough homeless families to fill a small, rapidly growing town. Yet, this issue has received very loud silence coming out of the Mayor’s office.

According to Connecting Point, in the summer of 2007, the average number of homeless families waiting to be placed into shelters was 75. In the summer of 2008, that average doubled to 150 families. Since then, there have been anywhere from 150 to 190 families waiting to be placed into shelters. The recession has taken a tremendous toll on our low-income families, and homeless families are calling on the Mayor’s office to respond.

Studies have show that homelessness has negative impacts on our youth’s health, development and education. Mothers are becoming more and more concerned for their children’s well being.. They are in awe at the fact that the city has not responded to the tragic outcome of our recession. Homeless parents will be presenting their solutions and will be asking for a meeting with the Mayor. Homeless parents active with the Coalition on Homelessness have been calling for a meeting with the Mayor for the past two years, and have not been granted one.

For Mother’s Day, the mothers of the homeless community would like to spend their day securing their children’s future. Homeless parents will be calling for additional affordable housing units, a lifting of the time limit on a locally funded housing subsidy, and increased homeless prevention funding. San Francisco has adopted the “Housing First” policy which was created to swiftly house homeless single adults. The mothers are fed up with the lack of action from City Hall, and are demanding that the “Housing First” policy that was adopted by San Francisco be implemented for families in their time of need.

According to Jenise Standfield of SRO Families United, “Our families need real “rapid housing” not “rapid homelessness"!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Maybe we just need a newer Underground Railroad

I don't pray but tonight I wish I knew how. I hope I don't have to write the rest of this post.

You know today's world is a fucked up place when the Underground Railroad starts looking like the only way to get things done.

Please please please send hope.

My Superhero Cape Is Getting Heavy

Guys, listen up. I'm so so incredibly appreciative that people keep picking up K's story and running with it: yesterday again we got shout-outs on SFist and Eye on Blogs AND now I'm BlogHer of the Week at BlogHer (which is huge and I'm really grateful... thanks, Jory!) but I gotta tell you, I'm a practical person and I just want to get shit done.

I'll be very honest and tell you what I need to help K and the kids and what I don't.

What I don't need (ie., stuff that raises my blood pressure):

  • Any more comments telling me how nice I am or how great it is about what I'm doing. I'm not doing this to get my angel wings. If you think what I'm doing is great, don't just talk about it-- DO something. Tell your friends, post this story somewhere. Donate some money. HELP.
  • Any more lists about places I can call, please. I have every fricking last one of them.
  • Any more smart ass comments about The System. Trust me, I know The System is fucked. Comments like that don't help.
What I need and this is the plain and honest truth:
  • I need a sublet, a single bedroom apartment or a hotel room with a kitchenette to rent for K and the kids from now until the end of August in San Francisco. That's it. It's that simple. With the donations I've received, if there is a good hearted landlord out there (and I'm guessing there has to be at least one) I need a place where this little family can stay until their permanent housing comes through in September. Budget is obviously a consideration.
Now honestly, with all of the attention out there about K's story, this part should be a walk in the park. I just can't do it all by myself. I don't know every person and possibility in San Francisco. Please don't email me Craigslist ads. I want solid leads or people who know people who can do something tangible.

So you guys that really want to help... help me find a place for them to live in the city. Somewhere in the city that's decent, with a little kitchen and a bedroom. The kids are in school until the middle of June and then they are in summer school with their little pals. So we're not taking them out of the city.

That's it. That's what we need. If I can, I'll pay for it in advance even. No Section 8, just a little sublet to rent till the end of the summer. This family is quiet and sweet. The kids are precious and fun to be around. The baby is adorable.

After that, then we can talk about more clothing, toys, etc. I mean, if you don't have a closet to put your clothes in or room on the floor to play on, having piles of toys and clothes piled in the tiny place you DO have just makes it harder to live normally. Having a kitchen where your mom can make you breakfast or where she can whip up her famous mac 'n cheese casserole is a hell of a lot better than eating KFC and Carl's Junior all the time because you don't have a kitchen.

So who's stepping up to the plate with me? If we get this housing part done, then hell, I don't know what I'll do for you yet but it could totally involve showering you with kisses and giving you my undying gratitude. And perhaps just knowing that you were a superfucking action hero and that I'll share my cape with you, because YOU helped save a family-- that might be the reward in itself.

Let's finish this story and make our own. In the happiest way possible.

Monday, May 4, 2009

San Francisco's Magical Telephone Number and the Angels of "They"

Does anyone know where I can get a pair of these in a size 7?


Once upon a time, there was a little homeless woman with three small beautiful children. As a victim of domestic violence, where ever she turned, people told the mother to call a toll-free number that would put her in touch with shelters that could help her. They, the Angels of They, would know what to do. They could help her and her children.

The little homeless mother did just that.

She called the toll-free number almost every day, at 10am, like she was supposed to. For weeks.

And then, she called the shelters that the hotline told her to. Just like she was supposed to. Not just once. Many, many times.

And do you know what happened next, dear readers? Can you guess?


Here is what happened. When the little homeless mother called these shelters, these were the kinds of replies that she got:

"We don't have any room right now."

"We don't have any room for a family of your size." (ie., one mother, one little girl aged seven, one son aged nine, and a two-month old baby.)

And here are the even better replies:

"Why do you keep calling us all the time?!" (because some people learned to recognize the little homeless woman's voice)

"I told you the other day we didn't have anything for you! Why do you keep calling?"

Now that's helpful!


And there is the truth of the situation. Not for just ONE family, but for who knows how many. Dozens? Hundreds?

On Friday, K finally had a chance to call a shelter that was willing to do an intake for her case. She waited for her call at 1pm (I know this because I called her beforehand to wish her luck).

She started to discuss her situation with the shelter worker, who was then interrupted and asked K if she could call her back to finish the intake.


K called the shelter but they never finished the phone call. So not only was she not able to be helped by this shelter, she wasn't even able to finish her intake call so that the shelter could DECIDE if they wanted to take her case or if they were even able to help her.

And that, my friends, is how the system really works.


I told K yesterday that if one more person tells me to "just have K call this toll-free number and 'They' will be able to help her..." that I was going to punch them. No matter how well meaning they might be. I said if I had a freaking dollar for every person who's told me that already, I could probably have rented them a suite at the Palace Hotel.

K laughed and said, "Now you know how I feel."

Please keep telling your friends about this story, and the bigger and sadder situation that exists in San Francisco. I love this city, but day by day I become more embarrassed by how it can't help the people who need it most.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

My guest post, posted here ;-)

Below is the text of my guest post yesterday for helpamotherout.org.

If you haven't been to see their site, they're doing lots of good work for moms and kids in need. Check them out and tell them tangobaby sent you.



Flowers are always a little more beautiful after the rain, don't you think?
This photo was taken in Golden Gate Park.


Two weeks ago today, something happened that changed my life forever.

I think it's a rare and magical thing to be able to look at a date on a calendar and think to yourself: Yes, on this day, I became a better person.

I'm just glad that date happened to me sooner than later.


Two weeks ago today, I passed by a young homeless woman on the streets of San Francisco, her eyes large and tear-filled. Holding a baby, with a small boy on one side of her and a little girl on the other, she needed $60 dollars for a motel room.

I walked by.

I often walk by people begging for money. We all do. We set up these automatic shields. If we gave away all of our money to everyone that asked us to, what would we have left?

The truth is that we might have even more than we gave. I would have never been able to say that to you over two weeks ago, but I can say it now.


The good news is that this time, I thought about the sight that I had seen, and thought that it was so terribly terribly wrong that I would not have been able to sleep had I not turned back. My protective bubble had burst.

And in so doing, returning to that woman and her children, a whole sad world opened to me. A world I have never encountered: a world of savage cruelty inflicted by someone bigger and stronger, someone who should have cared and protected but only harmed, with malice. But it's also a world of love and strength, the true measure of a woman's love for her family, who would do what she could for her children no matter how unsure the future seemed.

K and her children are a joy to be around. They are definitely a unit, bound by love, to each other. In this short span of two weeks, the world has reached out to help this family where a city could not. I am amazed at how the situation changes moment by moment.

I can only be inspired by the good will and love that people around the world, connected by electronic threads of compassion, have woven around this tiny family. Money, clothing, toys, this and more await this family. They are not out of the woods yet, by any means. They still need reliable shelter for months to come. But I am hopeful that their days of struggle and tears and cold nights have passed forever. If you can help, please do.

These children are our future. This mother is the only one they will ever have.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for caring.

With love,


Friday, May 1, 2009

Time Out

Door on Haight Street reads
Community: All different but all help each other get the fruit from the tree.

Ain't that the truth?!


Holy moly. What a week! We got our little story on SFist, Eye on Blogs, KGO News (thank you again, Carolyn Tyler!), we were tweeted and facebooked and tumblr-ed oodles of times, we got City Hall a little riled up, and goodness only knows what else.

You guys have been fantastic. You are living proof that this world is a wonderful place, full of people who care. You care a lot.

Your support of K and the kids has been mind-blowing. My inbox is so out of control that I can't even deal with it right now. But I'm totally happy with that because you have shared your best: your hearts all in the right places. I wish I could reply to each and every one of you. Some day I will. It might take me weeks but gosh darn it, I will.

Because you were there for me.


Just so you know, K and the kids are all set for the weekend, whether or not a shelter comes through next week, thanks to you. So they're happy and I'm happy. And hopefully we will have some progress to report next week.

But today is The Boy's birthday and it's his turn for a little well-deserved attention and some TLC.

You guys enjoy yourselves and I'll catch up with you in a few. But please do visit another wonderful blog who has been very supportive of K and her family's story, helpamotherout.org. I wrote a guest post for them today.