Confession Time

It’s time I was honest with myself and my family and friends. It’s time I faced my true self and ignored the stigma that society puts on me, and others who face this dilemma. It’s no easy task but it cannot be ignored or pushed under the rug any longer.

I’m no longer vegan.

I haven’t been vegan since I moved to China.  In fact, I started eating meat before I even left. It started with one innocent rib at a friends going-away BBQ for me.  It all changed after that. I got the chicken for my in-flight meal. I’m not sure how to feel about my first meal in Beijing. It was vegan.  At least I think it was, I can’t be sure. But when I went out with my new co-workers I didn’t even bother to mention that I was once vegan.  I didn’t want to say anything about it, didn’t want to call attention to it or make it a big deal. I didn’t want to make it all about me and my crazy dietary restrictions. I mean, first impressions right?

The hardest part is knowing I’ve let my vegan friends down. I’ve gone back to the ‘dark side’. And my carnivorous friends will probably say ‘I told you so’ and continue to find ways to ridicule me and cajole me.  It’s really a struggle to be in this gray area, it’s like I don’t fit in any dietary social category and that’s tough.  But I will persevere.  I won’t give up. or wait maybe I did give up I’m not sure.  But I do know that what I eat tomorrow has no bearing on the kind of person I am or want to be now. I’m not sure what any of that means I’m kinda buzzed right now.

I reserve the right to go back to a whole foods, plant-based diet if I so desire. It’s my decision and mine alone. Especially when I have a stove and refrigerator to call my own again. I don’t need to follow anyone’s pre-conceived notions of what a healthy, proper, ethical diet is.  I can decide for myself what’s right for me. You know maybe it’s time we set aside our gastronomical differences and accept each other as we are.

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24 May 2018

One year ago today my life changed in ways I couldn’t possibly imagine. I’d found my soul mate four or so years prior, my partner in the rest of my life and we were focused on when and how we could retire and enjoy the rest of our lives. Couldn’t wait to settle down at the river house. But that day, everything changed. Cindy was super exhausted and out of sorts the night before and that whole night was in a state of agony I didn’t fully appreciate. I don’t blame myself, there had been times before we weren’t ourselves and it didn’t seem life-threatening. But that morning she ended up at the hospital, and then in ICU, and then Liz and I were saying our goodbyes. It happened that fast, too fast to comprehend.

But the family and I were surrounded immediately by more family and so many friends. Everyone came to our side and propped us up as they themselves were grappling with the reality, as we were. She was so loved by so many and still is. I thought I had a lot of friends and that night at the church Ethan said so me “you do”. In the days that followed so many were there calling, texting, hanging out with, feeding, laughing, crying and just being there for me, for Bessie and for Liz. Most of all, I’m so grateful for the love and support of Max during this time.

That day everything changed for me and I still have no idea where anything is going for me. But that’s totally ok, it doesn’t have to be defined or figured out today or for as long as it needs to be. It’ll work itself out. But one thing I do know is that I can forge my path my own way as Cindy helped me learn. I can think of exactly what I want to do and where I want to be doing it and that is my intention. I’m on this interesting adventure that we all know Cindy would be stoked about, considering what’s transpired. I fully intend to see where it leads and if it leads to somewhere I don’t want to go then so be it. At least I know I have many, many people to rely on and love.

I miss you Bon so much. I’m so sad you are gone and sometimes it’s too much to bear but I know you’d want me to be happy and explore and live life, and that’s what I’m going to do. i’m going to honor you for the rest of my days and do all the stuff and things we wanted to do, even if sometimes it’s the nothings. I lob you Bon and always will.

Beijing Day 1 (and travel day)

I didn’t sleep well the night/morning before my flight. Would you? But that was ok because I wanted to be good and sleepy for my flight anyway. I was tempted to upgrade my seat but decided against it mostly because I’m trying to be frugal.  I’m glad I didn’t because the flight, and my seat was just fine as it was.  I was good and sleepy from the little sleep, the little pill my doc prescribed me and of course booze. I caught up on my reading and movie watching (Thor Ragnarok, Coco, 1/2 of Walk With Me & Darkest Hour, Slash’s book and started Children of Time).

Customs was not bad at all at the Beijing airport, baggage claim was a breeze and I was met with one of those signs with my name on it. handwritten and the woman who picked me up didn’t speak a word of English and was WeChatting till we got in the car.  Very nice but we didn’t talk at all for the entire hour + ride to the hotel.  I nodded out most of the time anyway.  Beijing was totally gray skies and huge big city the whole ride. It was about 4pm THE NEXT DAY (so 11:40 plan ride + 15 timezones) when I got to the hotel.

I checked in and got my bags to my room and was starving so went to the little “restaurant” adjacent to the hotel. Again, no English and was so groggy and tired I totally forgot every word of Mandarin I’ve been learning (5 minutes a day almost every day for maybe a month). The girl at the counter pulled out a menu with English so I picked the eggplant with dry noodles and a salad.  It was delicious. I went over to the 7 Eleven next door on the other side of the hotel and got some stuff. Went back to my room and cracked open some of the duty free booze I’d gotten at SFO and promptly passed out.  Woke up about midnight local time to a WeChat from some of the Base folks who invited me to dinner the next night (and a little side shopping trip to get a power adapter for my laptop so you can thank them for this writing).  I was elated.  So I couldn’t sleep for a few more hours. I managed to mostly unpack and set up my room, including my music stuff. I took Cindy’s ashes out and put it on the window sill and one of her scarves now covers one of the lights in the room like she would do.

I finally passed out and woke up the next morning way too early. So I finished tinkering with my stuff (I packed way too heavy as I knew I would) and set off to explore as best I could.  I really wanted to go to Tiananmen Square but it was a bit to far on foot and still didn’t have a SIM card for my phone so I opted for the Temple of the Sun.  Totally walking distance (for me, I like to walk).  it was a bit like walking the strip in Vegas but with no drunk rednecks whatsoever. Not that I don’t enjoy drunk rednecks, in fact just the opposite. Lots of electric scooters, pedestrians & busses. At one huge intersection there was an underground pedestrian walkway just to get across the street and there was this adorable girl singing and playing guitar sitting on her bicycle in this tunnel.  Perfect acoustics, she was a tad off-key but that was totally ok.

I got to the park and it was just lovely. Took some pics (see my instagram).  Lots of families with little kids, people doing tai chi, yoga and martial arts, a group with a harmonica and a music stand singing the most beautiful Chinese folk music (I guess?). Really cool! I made my way around the park and saw most of it and it was still like 11:30am. I sat there for a bit and decided I had a fairly long walk back so started out. I managed not to get myself lost and made it back to the hotel just after noon. I took advantage and chilled out in my room and rested, making sure I wasn’t going to suffer too much from jet lag.

At dinner tonight I met some really nice folks from basically all over the world and had an amazing dinner. I got lots of good insight about how Beijing is and how KL will be, and about the company.  Talked a little shop (I think I have my work cut out for me but I am actually really stoked about that) and got the lay of the land as to the best lunch spots around the office. After dinner a couple of my coworkers took me to an electronics store were I scored the Swiss Army knife of power adapters and got me pointed back to my hotel. I’m pretty sure I made the right decision.

I think about you every day

I imagine you piddle-paddling around the apartment I’m about to move out of, in your bare feet and night shirt/dress ready to do the nothings. On the couch watching TV and I’ll fall asleep 10 minutes into the show with Pumpkin between us.

You unlocking the door I’ll be walking out of for the last time soon, Pumpkin shooting toward me like a cannon ball as soon as the door opens, giving me a black eye with her nose as she licks my face off. And we make baby voices about how it’s been a whole 12 hours since she’s seen me.

You’re super grumpy and tired after work and don’t talk much. With your puffy down jacket, putting down all you bags and such. I take Pumpkin out for a walk. When we come back you’ve changed into sweat pants and a t-shirt and socks and you’re in the kitchen making food, or at your desk.

All of us walking into the freezing kitchen at the river house late on a Friday night. I pour us whiskey shots and open a couple of beers. You open all the doors and windows to air the place out. Pumpkin finds a doggie toy to murder with extreme prejudice. We make a fire.

I get ready for work and you uncharacteristically get out of bed, super grumpy face not saying a word. I’m a little nervous you might scold me about being too loud or something. I take Pumpkin to the back yard, come back, kiss you both goodbye as you’re sitting at your desk working on your computer.

We hurriedly get ready to go on some trip or some party and you go into the kitchen and pour us a couple of whiskey shots (“whoops! Whoops!” How did that happen?!”). You say I can wear jeans but wear a nice shirt and ask me to help you put on a necklace. We take a selfie because we look so fabulous.

I miss you so bad it hurts. And all these fellow commuters are wondering what this dude next to them is crying about.

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.