Please Enlighten Me

I’m starting to feel like I don’t like the United States or even most of modern society any more.  Please tell me why I should, tell me I’m wrong. Mindless consumerism, buying junk we don’t need while people live in tents on the streets.  Basic human kindness being labeled ‘political correctness’ and made light of and dismissed. Vicious divisiveness where no one even tries to find common ground. “I’m right and so you are wrong and I just have to beat you up on social media. I’ve stopped even listening to you and there’s no way I can agree on anything you say or believe in”.  Fierce, blind devotion to faith without question, which to me seems like giving up intelligence, wisdom and open-mindedness.

I feel like we’re giving up basic human kindness and thoughtful intelligence and wisdom for instant gratification and thoughtless pride. Where is the compassion?  Where is the desire to work together, to help each other?  Why don’t we want to build communities that nurture all of us, all life!?

Do we really not have enough faith in basic human compassion and kindness to want to run toward paranoia and mistrust?  Are we doomed to live in growing fear of each other simply because we can’t seem to communicate with each other without resorting to violence?

Are we really still separating ourselves and each other because of the color of our skin, gender identity, sexual preference or some unique concept of “God”?  Are we really still trying to preserve some culture that doesn’t match someone else’s?  Couldn’t we benefit from learning each other’s culture, faith and history?

Can’t we just fucking be kind to each other?!?!

Please, enlighten me.

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I Keep Going

I don’t think I’m in denial so much now but I still can’t fathom it, wrap my head around you being gone. I’m still not quite sure how to proceed. So I’m just proceeding the best I can.

I want to share things with you and hear what you think. I want you to tell me I’m putting too much salt on my food. I want to talk about Game of Thrones and Rick and Morty with you. I want to float on the river with you and Pumpkin and drink Tecates.

But I know I cannot.

I’ve been filling my time with work, music, friends and family. I’ve been taking care of myself, Max, Pumpkin and the houses (the best I can under the circumstances).

I think of you all the time and I really miss visiting you at the salon. I miss you picking me up at the MacArthur BART station. I miss driving up to the river house with you and our whiskey shots when we arrive on Friday nights. I miss being greeted by Pumpkin when you’re home first, or her greeting you when I’m home first.

I don’t know what the future holds for me, I’m having a hard time caring since it was supposed to include you. All I can do is keep going, honor you and the memories we had and take care of my family and yours. That will be plenty but it will also be difficult and empty without you.

Meeting Cindy’s Friends & Family

Her Actual Family

I knew Cindy’s family growing up in Alameda. I was friends with her brother Nick and cousin John. I knew who she was but we’d never actually met. She didn’t know me from Adam. I’ve since been lucky enough to know her whole family well and I think of them as my own.

Her Friends Family

As we began dating I got to know some of her closest friends well. Then she introduced me to her extended “Friends & Family”. The ‘raver’ community she was a part of since the early/mid ‘90s I believe. Before taking me with her to my first ‘day party’ she had me watch the film “The Boys And Girls Guide To Getting Down”. It spelled out the ‘90’s party scene pretty well I think, considering that was not where I was at that time. Also, it was pretty hilarious and fun.

That first day party was really cool and a lot of fun. I met a bunch of really awesome, beautiful people. Some brought their kids, I mean after all it’s been 20+ years that the scene has been going so of course some have become parents. These folks are an integral part of society (thankfully) who are professionals in the tech industry, artists, doctors, scientists, you name it. Some have built their careers around the community as professional sound engineers and lighting and stage technicians, photographers, etc. And the music was super cool, loud and fun has hell. My biggest take-away from that first party was these people were super inclusive, loving, accepting and knew how to have a good time and (mostly) maintain very well.

My First Campout

The next step was for Cindy to take me to my first weekend electronic music campout. She had been an integral part of this community since the beginning and we had our job to do. Everyone contributes in some way to create this magical weekend happen without hiring a bunch of strangers to do it for us.

Our job that first year was to distribute essential toiletries and sundry items to all the restrooms and port-a-potties. This little service is called: M. O. L. D: The Ministry Of Little Details. Toothpaste, toothbrushes, hand sanitizer, etc. Because when you’re out dancing till all hours of the night, and it’s dark and your tent is super far away and you’re not ready to go back to camp but really need a breath mint, MOLD has your back.

So there I was at my first campout, helping out and pitching in as one does but also Cindy and I were ready to relax and have a good time. The first thing I noticed was all the gear. I was blown away how much gear there was still getting set up (we’d gotten early entry passes because we were with MOLD). Huge lighting and sound rigs reserved for major rock concerts. And when the sun went down, we got dressed up in our kooky outfits and went out to check out the dance floor I was amazed. The constant kick drum and pulsating sounds permeated the beautiful Mendocino County forest. The lights, lasers and projection displays lit up the trees high above. The people were decked out in furry, leather, sequence awesomeness. I was in awe with a huge grin on my face. Cindy’s friends told her “uh oh, you’ve created a monster”. I had such an amazing time and the three other times I’ve gone since. The last time though was very bittersweet but no less magical.

Her Friends Are Now Mine

The very day we lost Cindy, her friends were right there along with my family and my friends to help me and her family cope as best we could. For the first few days, we had many people sleeping over at the apartment. Making sure we were fed and taken care of. For weeks after and still to this day, they are calling, texting and checking up. Some of them joke “You’re stuck with us”. And I’m pretty sure they’re stuck with me and I am eternally grateful for that.

Celebrating Cindy

I’m sharing the words I prepared for the celebration yesterday:

We’re here today because Cindy Lopez AKA “Puddin”, “Puddin in the mix” had very explicit instructions for us.  We’re here to celebrate her life, out here in this park, with music, with family and friends.  So that’s what we’re going to do.

When we first started dating she said to me “I’m a doer”.  I said “I can see that!”.  She did all the things.  Creating a business completely on her own she ran for nearly 10 years, successfully.    But she inspired me to get shit done, to finish things I’d started, accomplish goals.  She inspired all of us to do better for ourselves and our loved ones, and the world.  

Cindy had so much compassion for everyone in her life.  She cared deeply for her entire family, all of her friends, me.  She was very focused on what those around her needed and how greatly they needed it.  She spent a great deal of time helping her family in times of need.  Her friends and their babies, or their troubles.  She was acutely aware of my concerns about my family and was so overjoyed when Max and I re-connected.  She wanted so badly to meet Max for so long and I’m so very grateful she did.

Her compassion wasn’t limited to family and friends either.  She was greatly compassionate about the homeless.  She volunteered to serve Christmas dinner at St. Anthony’s every Christmas Day.  We would go out to dinner and she would always have leftovers.  She’d tell me how she was going to fry an egg and put it on top of that for breakfast.  But then she’d ask for a plastic fork and napkin and on our walk home, she would give the food to a homeless person.

We all know she had so much love, and we of course love her just as much.  So many people have reached out to me, telling me how much they loved her.  Many people have told me how much they loved her happy, bubbly nature which I’m sure made their salon visits that much more amazing.  And the friends telling me about how much of a bright light she was at the campouts, always making sure everyone was having a fun, happy time.

We would say to each other “Old peoples?”  “Old peoples!”  Knowing that we were going to grow old together.  We had both desired so much to retire and finally relax and just be together.  Recently, we’d started to joke that “we are old peoples”.  

She’d also say to me “you keep me?”  I’d say “I keep you, you keep me?”  As sad as I am that we didn’t have the time together we thought we’d have, I am so very grateful for the time I did have with her.  I’d like to think I gave her some joy and happiness in her life, she sure gave that to me.  For this I will honor her for the rest of my days.

We know she wants us to laugh and love and dance, and cry.  But mostly laugh.  And do handstands.  I’m not doing any handstands, that’s not a good idea but those that can, should.  So let’s laugh and dance and sing and do handstands and cartwheels, and I think it’s ok to cry a little, In her honor.

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When We Started Dating

In early October of 2013, I had moved to Benicia, starting anew, and sharing an apartment with my sister.  It seemed like the right time to change my Facebook relationship status back to single.  Within a day or so Cindy messaged me saying “hey, I noticed your relationship status changed to single, does that mean you can go out on a date?”  I immediately said “Yes it does!”  Later, I teased her a bit, asking her if she was stalking me.  She vigorously denied it, but it made me feel pretty damn good to think she was interested.  I certainly was.

So we set a date and went to an Italian place on College Ave.  I remember picking her up at The Fairview House and had to take my shoes off to go inside.  The doorbell had a PTouch printed label that said ‘push it-push it real good’.   We had a fantastic time, drank a lot of wine and laughed a lot.  When I dropped her off back at her place she said to me “I really had a great time  and I’d like to do this again”.  I felt exactly the same way and told her as much.  I had a show with The B-Side ‘70s in Alameda that weekend and said she should come to that.  I got a room nearby in Oakland, knowing it was probably not a good idea for me to drive all the way back to Benicia that night.  I didn’t expect anything (but of course was hopeful) and that was the first night we spent together.  We were pretty much inseparable from then on.

“That’s My Puddin”

Within a few weeks she was to move out of the Fairview House and into Beacon St. She had this idea to place a time capsule in the wall where a contractor was replacing the back door of Beacon St with a sliding glass door.  She posted to Facebook “…what would you want to put in a time capsule?”.  People said “buttons” or “jewelry”.  I said “lyrics”.  A few days later she messaged me and said ‘hey I need those lyrics by Wednesday’  I was like “Uh ok!”.  I wanted to get them to her quickly but didn’t want to write a super intense love ballad.  It was only a few weeks we’d been dating so I opted for a more light-hearted thing.  I didn’t want to come off creepy at that stage!  Those were the most creative I think I’d written because I was under time pressure, I didn’t want to be super serious and creepy, yet I wanted to convey that I felt pretty strongly about her.  When I sent them to her she replied with “Oh my god you are adorable”.  That was when I know I’d succeeded.

That’s my Puddin Lyrics:

She came along like a little tornado

She’s super hot like a cherry tomato

Swept me up and I never came down

On the upper east side end of town

 

CHORUS:

That’s my Puddin

I love all the things and stuff she does

That’s my Puddin

Making us laugh and causin’ a fuss

 

Her name is Cindy and she’s super fun

She sure gets lots of things and stuff done

She’s a real doer she don’t mess around

She’s the one I’m really glad I found

Next I’ll write about my introduction into her amazing world of Friends and Family (and mine!)

How We Met

How We Met

I was asked by my pals John Lucasey, Mark Penå and Brad Dodge to play as a band at their high school reunion July 27th 2013.  My reunion was the year before as I graduated the prior year but that’s how I happened to be at the class of ‘83 reunion.   A magical event for Cindy and I, as well as our best pals John & Lisa.

At that time in my life, I was unemployed having been laid off from ILM that same April.  I was also living with Nicole in Brisbane but I was already somewhat over the relationship and thinking about moving out.  This pretty much sealed the deal.  With much respect to Nicole, she is a wonderful person, it was just not working out for me.

So there I am at this reunion, the band had all set up and finished soundchecking and the food was being brought out buffet-style.   I happened to be standing just beyond the doorway, outside of the Aeolian Yacht Club toward the docks where the band and food was set up.  And in walks Cindy from the entrance.  The song I wrote for her, “That’s My Puddin” (another story to come) the first line is:  “The came along like a little tornado” is about how I describe it.  She confidently walked right up to me and said “Hi”. and I said “Hi” back.  We were talking and introducing ourselves to each other when the food was ready so she grabbed my arm and proclaimed that we would share a plate and eat together.  We got our food and found a table to sit and eat.

Once dinner was finished the band was ready to play our set.  She was front row the whole time and at one point in between songs she came up to me and said:  “I’ve got a hotel room nearby and the hotel has a hot tub.  I want to go sit in the hot tub and drink champagne till 10 when the pool area closes and I’d like you to join me.  Nothing else, just the hot tub! But we need to leave as soon as your set is done.” Of course how could I say no?

So as soon as our set was done she said “OK let’s go, I’ll drive.”  I said “Uh ok…” as the rest of the guys immediately started breaking down their gear.  I just left mine where it was.  When we got to her hotel she opened the champagne and went to change in the bathroom.  She had said right off the bat “we are not having sex just to be clear”.  I said of course, that’s cool I get it.  Also, since I was technically and literally still with, and living with someone that was certainly for the best.  I didn’t exactly mention that though not to put too fine a point on it.  I of course was not prepared for swimming so all I could do was strip down to my black boxer briefs which was fine because they sorta looked like shorts.  

We went down to the hot tub and got right in, she had her little Bluetoon Pop speaker so we had music.  We jumped in the pool for a bit and get right back in the hot tub.  We kissed and made out a bit, maybe more then a bit.  She took her bikini top off and I did my best to play it cool.  I wasn’t yet exposed to her more free-spirited world of the raver/campout scene.  Then suddenly it was 10pm and out we got, upstairs, dried off and dressed.  We drove back to the reunion and wondered if anyone would even notice we were gone.  No one did!

She helped me break down all my gear, which was now sitting all by itself outside in the dark since all the other guys had broken done all their gear already.  We danced to Alex’s DJ set for a bit then she sorta wandered off and disappeared.  At one point before that though I mentioned that we were all planning to go to McGee’s (an alameda bar that seems to be the place for us old Alameda peoples always gather) later and she said she would probably stop by with her high school pals.  I found the band and we toasted to our awesome rockin’ set and I confided in John and Mark about what we’d done.  They were blown away, they didn’t even realize either of us had even left!

When it came time, we made our way to McGees.  I was crashing at Penå’s dad’s place with him so I stuck with Mark.  I kept my eye on the door the whole time, hoping Cindy would eventually show up but she never did.  Then we closed the bar down and made our way back to Pop’s house.

A few days later I got a FB message from Cindy that was just something like “hey that was fun, thanks for the good times”.  I don’t remember the exact words but it was accompanied by a picture of her wearing a t-shirt that said “I KISSED THE LEAD SINGER”.  We didn’t actually get together till a few months later, when I moved to Benicia but this adventure pretty much sealed the deal for me.  

Stay tuned for that story…

Positivity

Since I decided to unfollow the negative, at the same time I decided to try and post positive stuff that I feel strongly about.  I believe it’s possible to get your point across without slinging mud.  It’s a challenge because it’s easier to point out the faults with my opposing viewpoint rather than point out the positives of what I am passionate about.  Or maybe it’s just a natural reflex or just bad habits.

It’s called positive reinforcement kids, look it up.

I don’t want to ignore the crappy stuff that goes on in the world, I just want to combat it with love, humor and hope.  You can catch more flies with honey, kill ’em with kindness, or some other such cliche metaphor.  But that’s how I look at it, I’m an optimist.  Or at least I want to be.  That’s not to say I don’t get angry and sad when someone shoots up a school or suicide bombs a rock concert.  It makes me want revenge.  I want to bitch about guns (I know plenty of responsible gun owners), I want to bitch about organized religion (which has nothing at all to do with extremists).  Maybe the best approach is to take a deep breath and stop thinking (about anything!) for a minute.  Then logically and methodically work out the problem and come up with constructive solutions.  Sounds to me like a better plan then arming everyone to the teeth or living in a police state.

Just because we don’t agree on stuff doesn’t mean we can’t talk about it rationally and in a positive light.  I think that’s the biggest problem with our current political and societal culture.  We’ve forgotten or never learned how to peacefully coexist.  In our own country for goodness sake!  It seems to me we could work stuff out without trying to convince each other that our way is better and you should just listen to me.  Perhaps both opposing viewpoints could exist and be ‘truth’ at the same time.  Or at least we could agree to disagree and find some sort of common ground on at least some of the issues.  I have to believe there’s got to be a way.  We’re smart we could find it if we try.  I don’t feel like I always have to be right, just heard.  I know I’m not going to change anyone’s mind, especially in a Facebook thread.  But maybe, just maybe we can come up with real solutions that might actually work, if we try to set aside our egos for a minute.

I don’t know am I just too much of an optimist?  Please, feel free to let me know!  Just keep it positive!  😉