Been reading about the homeless crisis in San Francisco, what the CEO of Salon is saying about taking back San Francisco values, the Open Letter to Justin Keller, the tech guy who acted if as the elite were victims of the homeless due to having to witness their plight.
I’m reading this all from Oakland. I’ve been in the same flat for almost four years now, holding on for dear life to my cheap rent, saving, saving, saving.
Across the street from my house, there is trash piling up and a tent city growing by the day. I work in a college campus about twenty minutes from Oakland, in what you would call a “town.” The cherry blossoms are blooming. It’s not winter, says California. It’s summer. Today was hot.
I would say that I am holding on hope that San Francisco Bay Area can shake the plague of elite corruption and greed currently causing us to endure what really seems like a caste system. To be inside these four walls when outside, under the five freeway overpasses, there are dozens of people living in a park, not too many feet from an illegal dumping site that is growing by the day is surreal. Down the road, the Victorians switch hands faster than an burlesque dancer takes off her clothes. Construction projects abound. The roads are still cracked. There is an entire brick compound covered in graffiti, seemingly completely empty and boarded up. Houses are snatched off the market within days. Everyone’s purchasing up a storm, and many are sitting on property too expensive to develop. It’s a gold rush. Property goes to the highest bidder. The city has changed… when I go out to bars, people, aside from the bartenders, are generally vapid. They talk about tech startups. I wish it were different. I’ve gone out there and pounded the streets aimed to keep my mind open.
I’ve lost sight of the city I fell in love with as a child. The denial, grief, anger… now shock and mourning… continues. I fled SF in 2007 for Oakland. I had a flat for $1150 a month. A Victorian flat on 6th and Fulton, across from Golden Gate Park. I used to work on Howard and 11th, in an old historic brick building, for a legal messenger company in 2002. I was 21. I walked down that same street the other day. It was lined with tents. Homeless shot up in front of me. The old office was filled with computer screens, I didn’t recognize many of the bars. It was hopping, don’t get me wrong, but even as I passed Ted’s deli where I used to buy sandwiches for lunch, a couple blocks after rounding the corner where Twitter glows on the corner, the employee deli packed with organic foods glowing in front of the eyes of all who walk by, I felt lost. I felt like a space alien, walking through a simulation of my old city. And this is a city I visit multiple times a week. It’s changing so fast. I’m still delayed adapting.
Rents keep going up and up. I keep working and writing and holding on for dear life. As a child, I dreamed of an apartment in a Victorian, hardwood floors and Persian rugs. Now I look at those painted ladies and I don’t recognize them, or the people in them. I’m not sure where I would go… this is my home. This is why I am curious to keep open dialogue about our issues in the Bay Area. I will keep reading about what is happening and speaking my mind.
I’m still writing music. Mostly in the car on the way to work and back, I record songs. And in the evening, Ed and I sit and try to work on ideas together. I’m tired as all hell this week. Tired of Trump’s face. Tired of Bernie being held up as a bastion of change. Tired of feeling like I can’t do anything about it.
I can, though. You can. Write. Talk. Point it out. Vote. Make music. Etcetera.
Read Lidia Yuknavitch’s piece about being a misfit on the TEDBlog. Made me feel better about working on my own story for about five minutes. My voice matters. You can always rebuild, start anew. I always balk when someone “up there” talks to someone “down here” though… we can’t all be “up there.” Up there is the system that’s causing the caste division getting wide, opening maw ready to swallow those who can’t scramble and rebrand themselves as money seeking above all else. My improv song of the day (I do one every day in the car) was On Not Being Amanda Palmer. I’m not Amanda Palmer because I didn’t hustle to be heard. Ennui and laziness… not that I didn’t try a bit… and overall… sick of the system.
I truly want to be able to write and sing and express without commodifying my expressions, putting them on the altar of capitalismfor the exchange of cold hard cash buying me validation. I AM what I already am.
I do love to be heard. But I also know that in and of itself, creating is a joy. So is love and connection, what we are all seeking. Can we turn around and help each other out of this mess? I hope so…