Tag Archives: san francisco

my Year (of the Pig) in China, Pt. 1

After having lived the past year in the pulse of San Francisco’s Chinatown, I feel as if I have just participated in either a dare or an experiment.

It’s a long story as to how I ended up at this residency hotel that I called home for the past year. It is disguised by name as the Grand Pacific Hotel. It is neither grand nor located on Pacific Street and I am still uneasy considering it a hotel since the place seems only to house people in a long-term-permanent-home manner, there’s nothing temporary or fleeting about its occupants.

Before I continue, please cast aside any preconceived notions that you may have about hotels or residences as they may fool you into thinking I had my own toilet, shower, or kitchen or that a maid service turned down my bed each night and left small squares of chocolate on my pillows.

Grand Pacific (exterior)

This indiscernible building, located on Stockton Street between Broadway & Vallejo Streets, is located in arguably one of the most active hubs of Chinatown. The entry is nestled between Yee Cheong Hardware and Asia Mall and directly across the street from Chinatown’s Walgreens. The exterior is a terra-cotta-colored brick spotted with small windows and lined with fire escapes. Homemade clotheslines are stitched into this façade and garments can be seen hanging to dry from nearly every window, in constant rotation as the dry are retrieved and the wet immerge.

The entrance consists of a set of heavy-duty doors that lock between the hours of 8:00pm and 8:00am. Once inside, you can opt for the stairs on the left or the yellowing fluorescent filled old brown elevator that climbs floors so slowly you’d be better off taking the stairs. There is a sign next to the elevator that claims the building was seismically retrofitted in 1992 per California State Law in the event of another large earthquake (the last big one to hit was in 1989).

hallway

You’ll notice the wall color first, best described as an asylum green from the waist down, where the molding is. The top half is white including the ceilings, which are higher than one might expect. The second floor is the site of the building manager’s office, which has a barred window facing a landing. Inside, you will usually see a very old Chinese woman who speaks no English sitting on an old fold-up chair in the corner, surrounded by filing cabinets and piles of paperwork. On occasion, you will see Karen, a younger Chinese lady who is infinitely friendly and enthusiastic and speaks more English than her older counterpart. You will sometimes see Mr. Wong, the kind Building Manager who speaks less English than Karen but more English than his elder.

sinkdoor

My little unit, #405 (pronounced suh-ling-woo), was on the fourth out of five floors, half the size of the ‘biggest’ units they offer. It was a ‘cozy’ ten by ten foot box that included a small sink in one corner, a hardly larger closet in another corner, and a small sliding window that overlooked the gap in the middle of the building: a concrete pit. Another resident once asked me whether I lived “on the perimeter or in the vortex?” When I told him “the vortex” he made an expression with his face that could only be mistaken for somewhere between a grimace and a look of pity.

window

I, however, didn’t mind living on the inside circle of this structure. There was something safe and anonymous about it. It felt more private, too, since I didn’t have a window facing the bustling streets below. My room was well insulated from the sounds of the city and though I had expected the air to be more stagnant and warm since it faced a cement hole, it wasn’t. I received many a good breeze and gust of wind through my narrow window. Moreover, the four concrete walls of the pit served as an acoustic playground and I could hear the sounds of my fellow vortex dwellers. At the time, those sounds regularly served as a much-needed reminder that I wasn’t alone. A neighbor’s television, children’s chatter, and the resident who played Led Zeppelin covers on his guitar: they all became part of my Chinatown orchestra. There were bodies swarming around at all times of the day. Only four thin walls and 100 square feet of space separated me from the continual ebb and flow of that energy; it swirled like a perpetual dust storm in the halls, kitchens, and bathrooms.

My room was just two doors down from one of the two kitchens on my floor, a space filled with eight dirty electric burners, an industrial sink, and small cockroaches. The sounds of chopping on blocks drifted into my room regularly, as did the smells, which would range from an-almost-pleasant fresh steamed rice to a potent gag-worthy fishiness. The various odors would change directions with the wind in every hallway you walked down and every floor you visited. It felt like an olfactory adventure twenty-four hours a day, though I rarely enjoyed any of it.

kitchen

The kitchen was usually crowded and so filthy that I never once made a meal in it. I limited my time in the kitchen to the mornings, when I would use one of the eight burners to heat a tin full of hot water for my instant coffee. I do not care for instant coffee, but for someone who had no fridge and feared dirtying more than was necessary (cockroach phobia), it felt like my best option. The single worst experience I had in that kitchen happened around eight o’clock in the morning one weekday.

I’d been stirred awake before my alarm had sounded for work by a scream so shrill I actually worried there was a child in danger. With some hesitation, I immerged from my room with tin in hand to heat my water. I entered the kitchen to find four or five residents crowded by the sink, chatting feverishly in Chinese. I thought little of this spectacle as my neighbors often used the kitchen as their common area for socializing and conversation. When I returned five minutes later to retrieve my now boiling water, I was witness to the beheading of the live chicken in the sink they had all apparently been gathered around. Blood sprayed the walls by the sink and I quickly realized that the sound I had heard earlier belonged to that of a squawking panicked chicken. I padded quickly away back to my room, trying not to appear ruffled (pun intended) and tossed my hot water down the sink, fearing that some blood may have landed in it during the commotion. From that day forward, like when crossing a street, I always looked both ways before entering the kitchen.

to be continued…

jessi

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hip hip horr-appy new year (of the pig studio) !

prepare yourself for an unforeseen rant ::

i cannot stand those who choose to use a single letter over an actual word when typing text messages.

you is not u. are is not r. be is not b. and before is most certainly not b4. lol is one that i have come to tolerate only because even people who don’t use the r, u, and b letters to act as entire words still tend to use the oh so well loved lol. personally, i do not use it. i have used it, but felt filled with shame on each and every fleeting occasion that i have. but you will never see me using possibly the worst combination of letters in recent history: rotflmao. there never has been, never is, and never will be an appropriate time to type that. if it’s so f*cking funny, simply write hahahahaha. this now brings me to haha and hehe and teehehe and every other god forsaken spin off that “we” use. i use haha when i find something particularly funny because i refuse to use lol. at least haha is phonetic. i use hehe fleetingly. hehe and teehehe are reserved for making cute remarks and flirting. i never seldom do either so it hasn’t become part of my textcabulary (i just made that word up and feel particularly brilliant having done so, so please don’t burst my bubble by saying this term has already been included in the latest edition of webster’s dictionary).

and then there are the smiley faces, the emoticons. first of all, i completely despise the word emoticon because it makes me angry for reasons i cannot properly explain. that said, i will admit to using and possibly even abusing smiley faces. my only defense being that because it is incredibly hard to gauge sarcasm through just a text message, i insert :) these to inform the receiver that no harm was intended and that my snide remark was most likely not to be taken seriously. the smiley face :) is also a nice way to end a conversation. the smiley indicates that your discussion has left you happy and satisfied and, well, f*cking smiling, so there’s no need to say anymore. i suppose what i’m really trying to say is that inserting a single smiley face and nothing else is a great way to cut a text conversation short if you either aren’t in the mood to text, haven’t got the time to text, or if you just didn’t want to text in the first place.

there are many variations of the smiley face. i prefer nose-less smileys not because i am too lazy to type a – dash or the letter o or the number zero, but because i think they look f*cking stupid with noses. exhibit a: :-), :o), :0). a traditional smiley face (you know, that yellow guy we all know so well) never had a nose, so why should i add one now? when it comes to smileys, i say don’t fix what ain’t broken. he never had a nose in the first place and i see no reason for him to have one now. some people choose to use the = equals sign for the eyes instead of the : colon. as long as there is no nose involved, i guess i am not going to judge.

speaking of smiley faces. i’ll never forget the story of a girl who went to her pediatrician with her mother. she was there to receive a shot of some kind. she was fairly terrified of needles and had to be calmed before the needle appeared. the doctor, in an effort to soften the blow, thought she’d draw a smiley face on the girl’s arm prior to the shot. the girl was a bit dumbfounded by this new development at the doctor’s office and was then able to relax a little. the doctor then asked the girl, “so, what’s missing from this smiling face?” the girl replied with a look of confusion on her face, “..a …nose?” to which the doctor replied, “exactly” and proceeded to stab the girl in the arm (between the sharpie eyes and smile) with the shot to complete said smiley face on the girl’s arm.

i find this story to be both gruesome and hilarious simultaneously, which explains why i love it so so much.

i forgot to wish you a very happy new year!, christmas!, hanukkah! and so forth and so on!

the holidays flew by like a hurricane. after having my foot broken at the end of november (on an otherwise glorious monday morning), the chaos ensued. work was busy and then it became extra super duper crazy busy. everyone and their mother was shopping for presents and stocking stuffers, leaving me and my fellow employees little to no down time and a few hours of overtime.

i spent christmas eve moving into a new bedroom. i am in the same apartment, but i am now in a larger room. the upgrade was a long time coming and i am exponentially happier in my larger space. my room is no longer a place that i am embarrassed to say that i live in. i no longer reside in a 10’x10′ shoebox nor do i sleep on a crumpled unevenly spring filled single mattress on the floor. my room is far larger and now contains a lofted double mattress, allowing me ample space to spread out all of my art supplies and desks. 

i spent christmas day alone in my new room in san francisco. this is the first year that i’ve spent the holiday without my family and for that reason it was significant. but to honest? i was fine. i was ok. moving into my new space was incredibly therapeutic and i spoke to all of my important people on christmas day via telephone. a dear friend here in the city took me out to dinner somewhat last minute on christmas day, which made the whole christmas-by-myself experience pretty great. it’s not that i despise trees in houses or boxes wrapped in paper or family members mashing potatoes for dinner, but the holidays tend to represent a stressful time for me. and in an effort to be selfish and remain free of unneeded stress, i opted for a holiday season alone in san francisco.

and then the new year hit. although i did not do much to celebrate the occasion, i was surrounded by a handful of choice friends who made the night (and wee morning hours) perfect. i spent the day before and after the new year cleaning my apartment’s kitchen and back storage area. which was great because those areas badly needed cleaning, but come the tuesday morning after the start of the new year i awoke with some insane allergies. i believe my cleaning kicked up some serious mold and bacteria. i arrived at work about three hours after i was supposed to and was completely useless for the hours that i was there. come the next day i was in bed drugged up on a wicked cocktail of anti-histamines, decongestants, and the like. by wednesday the 4th of january i had a fever of 101 degrees and felt not unlike a limp wet rag – oh, how i hate the flu. by friday i was able to open my eyes, by saturday i was able to walk, by sunday i was able to think, and by monday i was able to leave my apartment feeling less like a zombie and more like an actual human being. 

all this means is that i’ve already used up five sick days and it’s only the twelfth of january. it’s a major bummer, but maybe if i get this sort of thing out of my system now, it’ll mean it won’t hit me later. 

i do not believe in new year’s resolutions, but this year i have decided that i will propose at least a small goal for myself, that is: “no assholes, injuries, or illness.”

may that be my mantra for two thousand and twelve.

good night, good riddance, and a very happy new year to each and every one of you!

xxx

jessi

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run, forrest, run. & “a.”

i have a little venting to do about the gym.

i rode horses for sixteen years. going to the barn has always been my gym. fresh air and the smell of leather. not to mention a twelve hundred pound animal between your legs. if you are like me, this is your idea of heaven.

when i lived in new york city, i joined a gym and would do something that would make me sweat about five times a week. i hated it (well, exercise itself feels great, but it’s the process that i hate). i hate gyms. i hate running in circles. i hate treadmills and elliptical trainers even more – they are just glorified hamster wheels in my opinion. how unsatisfying is it to run for twenty minutes solid and arrive nowhere ? there are mirrors everywhere that only remind you of why you are there in the first place. but you also get a glimpse and (usually a strong) smell of all the other people there who are sweating it out. some may be regulars, some may be obsessive, and some may just feel really guilty about the cheeseburger they ate for lunch that day. and is it just me ? or do they seem to play The Food Network all the time at the gym ? the more i think about it, the more i think that i hate the gym just as much as i hate the laundromat.

i know plenty of people who love going to the gym. more power to them. i admire them one hundred percent, seriously. perhaps if i lifted weights and reveled in my own self reflection, i’d like the gym, too. i’ll never forget this tiny gym i joined in new york city on 14th street. i went there about five times a week to stretch, do crunches, and run one or two miles. my two strongest memories are as follows ::

1. the old ladies gathered in the ladies locker room about twice a week. they would sit together, naked, chatting about their lives, their days. they were all well over sixty years old. i never stared at them, but when you are amongst a flock of older ladies in a tiny locker room whilst you are changing, you’ll catch a glimpse of the naked bodies surrounding you. their bodies were old, worn, and sagged. but beautiful. so beautiful. what made them so beautiful was not the bodies themselves, but their complete comfort with themselves. sure, their breasts hung at strange and low angles, they had more fat on their bodies than the average girl would ever consider appropriate, but they just sat around talking to each other as if they were fully clothed, with nothing to hide, no secrets. so, i applaud them. and their self comfort. and lack of low self esteem. those ladies completely rule as far as i’m concerned.

2. a gentleman who must have been around fifty years old – give or take. he always came to the gym dressed in short shorts – black spandex. hugging and “exaggerating” every part of his male form from the waist down. he wore a tight white “wife beater” tank and on his head an american flag bandana. he’d flex his muscles into the mirrors and admire himself. he was never the sort to look at the girls in the gym (which is refreshing, because having those over-confident males stare at you while you are breaking a sweat on the treadmill is entirely disgusting). he would arrive, do his thing, and leave. and i always considered him awesome because of it.

oh, the gym. if you go to a gym and like it, keep going. more power to you. if you are like me, you will cancel your gym membership and begin jogging on the streets for free. the perk being that it is free, the non-perk being that i have a bad back which hates running on pavement and i have apparently even worse ankles that hate the unavoidable hills that this city forces you to climb or descend when going for a run. but i’ve become addicted to running. i haven’t run for forty eight hours because of a terrible blister on my right heel and a cold i just came down with this morning. i want to run so badly right now, but i know that doing so will only cause my ankles further harm. and as for my head cold ? it’s left me so exhausted, i shouldn’t be exerting any energy right now unless it is towards health and a good night of sleep.

running on the streets of san francisco has been so rewarding. i’ve seen more of the city in the past two weeks than i have in the year that i have lived here. and i happen to run at strange times. i will fall to sleep early and rise at 4:30am feeling restless. and run. run down the middle of streets that are usually crowded with cars and people during the “normal” hours of the day, but at 4:30am, they are empty and feel like nothing short of a meditation session. so i wear my pink sneakers. and i feel like Mr. Gump. i just can’t wait to run. maybe i’m running away from something i’m feeling. or maybe i’m running towards something. it really doesn’t matter because all i know is that it feels damn good either way. 

as for “a.” there is a small deli downstairs from my apartment run by a very sweet family. the mother and father are always there and i almost always see their son, who i’ll call “A,” because he’s there doing his homework after school (i usually only get there after work). in the last week, he’s started selling his paintings. he’s about nine years old and does theses fantastic drawings which he prices anywhere from 5 cents to 50 cents. i am now the proud owner of four of them ::

 

i love life. it has a funny way of working itself out.

these drawings make my heart smile and sing so loudly that i’d be surprised if you couldn’t hear it by now.

jessi

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happy anniversary, pig. (a post i hope you read).

it’s been about three weeks since i last posted on here. part of me would like to apologize for my absence, but a larger part of me knows that that would be silly. silly because in the last few weeks i’ve made some significant changes in my life. not as in, i started eating salad instead of cheeseburgers at lunch, but more like saving myself changes. it’s taken up all of my time, which is good. writing on my blog was the least of my worries. it was, quite simply, not a priority. but i do admit that i’ve missed it.

i’m going to begin this post (which i expect to be ridiculously long, be forewarned) with a dialogue from one of my favorite movies, Girl, Interrupted. it’s a beautiful film. it may be a bit trite at times and over dramatized, but it’s a film that has always spoken to me because the main character, Susanna, played by Winona Ryder, is someone i have always felt close to.

Susanna :: “I didn’t try to kill myself. I was just trying to make the shit stop.”

Therapist :: “You swallowed a bottle of advil with a bottle of vodka..”

Susanna :: “I had a headache.”

one year ago yesterday, i arrived in San Francisco. when i moved here, i was broken and lost. i was a complete mess, though my actions and demeanor reflected anything but. my eyes may have told a different story, but no one ever called me on it.

i was drinking more alcohol than i could admit to anyone, much less to myself. i was taking a variety of drugs that would disappoint any parent. i was full of lies and self-loathing. i lied about my substance abuse and my depression and my anxiety. i listened to a lot of sad music and though i’d landed a great job just three weeks after moving here, in my spare time i locked myself in my room to write and paint. and i was really only successful in either when i’d plied myself with a cocktail of substances. just enough to “make the shit stop.” it was hard, near impossible, to be creative when my sober mind wandered to the darkest of dark places.

to some, this may come as a complete surprise (i’m an amazing liar and actress as it turns out). to others, this probably explains a lot.

i was happy to leave Seattle, that much was true. but my decision to move here was complex. for one, i committed a cardinal sin. i broke my own rule : never move or stay anywhere for anyone. it was not my only my reason for relocating, but it was the biggest – though i denied it at the time.

before i’d left seattle, i had experienced two grand mal seizures. i experienced not one, but two, terrible tragedies – having to attend two open casket funerals in the space of one week. they both occurred after my decision to move south, but i think in many ways they were the nail in the coffin (apologies for the pun) that confirmed and prompted my choice to get the hell out of Seattle. it was a place full of sadness and memories i wanted to leave behind and i really couldn’t have left fast enough.

since my arrival in this beautiful city, i’ve had a tumultuous year. drugs and alcohol certainly do not help one who’s making an attempt to “get their shit together.” neither does lying about it – to others or oneself.

my arrival here was both abrupt and sudden, to say the least. back in Seattle, i’d left behind friends, family, horse back riding (which still, to this day, remains an unkept promise to myself to rekindle down here in horse country), my job, my home. life as i once knew it was over. it was gone. i faced that well known blank slate that we all speak so fondly of. i may have been excited, but i was terrified more than anything else. and alone, very alone. and given that hindsight is 20/20, i knew full well that my continued abuse of substances would only gain momentum down here. i knew that because relocating is stressful for anyone. but there was more.

i knew and realized that any sign of an unraveling (particularly with the boy, which happened only three weeks after my move here, but do NOT blame him for any of this), would lead me to less control over myself. i knew it would spur me to further harm myself, which i did. ten fold. i have scars, both physical and emotional, that still bring me to tears. when i moved here, i was holding onto a thread. after my arrival, that thread much closer resembled that of a delicate thread a spider draws when making a web. i was holding onto nothing, essentially . i considered suicide more than once. i wanted to get away from not just the city, but also myself. the drugs and alcohol were merely symptoms of a far deeper distress and internal battle i’d been having with myself for years.

add denial to this and i promise you a full blown recipe for disaster.

i went about my job and my life. i continued to drink and abuse drugs. i fell deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole. for the past year, i have felt like Alice. eating one cookie after another, in an attempt to find myself out of this nightmare i’d found myself in. a nightmare that i had created. i could blame my childhood. my parents. my this or my that. but i can’t. and i no longer can blame myself. i am in the process of forgiving myself. i made mistakes. many of them. the last three years have been chaos for me and i did the best that i could, even though my “best” involved nothing but self harm.

so i sit here today, at the same computer. sober. sad. and admitting the fact that i need help. i have needed help for well over ten years, but my pride (and other things i will not mention) had me convinced that i was OKAY and that i could “do it on my own.” nothing could be farther from the truth. i need help and i’m finally getting it. so, if you don’t hear from me in a while – it’s because of that.

for once, i’m going to put myself first. and Year of the Pig Studio can wait. we’ll both be better off because of it.

jessi

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oh brother, where art thou ?

a family reunion, of sorts, occurred just a week ago here in this fine city of san francisco and i have yet to tell you about it.

i’m not sure where to begin my story because the beginning of this story is years past. decades, actually.

my father had two children from his first marriage when he lived in Germany. i met both of them for the first time about nineteen (i think) years ago. and then i met them again fifteen years ago. and i haven’t seen either of them since. why fifteen years passed between then and now doesn’t matter. the fact that that bridge of time finally came to an end last weekend is what matters. saying that that makes me happy would be the understatement of the year, or years as it were.

he came into town on a friday morning. he, quite simply, texted me that he was at the fisherman’s wharf and he was tall and blond and drinking a diet coke. as if i could have forgotten what he looks like ? much less, how do you miss a 6’6″ blond german boy who looks almost exactly like your father ? when i set my eyes on him, walking out of a crowd on pier 39 donning a red plaid like shirt, black slacks, and a pair of faded denim converse, i d*mn near got the wind knocked out of me. a handful of words come to mind to describe this experience. surreal and disorienting are among them. there’s no way to describe this experience. i can’t even akin it to some scene out of a hollywood movie even though that is more or less what it felt like in the moment we embraced and i felt hot tears fall on my cheeks. blurry eyed, i looked up at him and smiled. we hugged again and then walked back to my house, about a mile south of the wharf.

the weekend he was here i was sick. quite sick. i was still coughing up all sorts of slimy stuff and finding it hard to catch my breath. i still had a low grade fever. i was still blowing my nose regularly. because i was still sick, this afforded me time off from work. however, because i was sick, i didn’t have the energy to do much outside of my apartment. i’d been hunkered down for over three days already in my room nursing my symptoms with codeine cough syrup, antibiotics, an array of vitamins, and liters of water. as it turns out, it didn’t matter. (side note: let me just say that being diagnosed with bronchitis while you are recovering from a sprained rib is cruel and unusual punishment).

we spent all of our time together talking, there really was no time for sight seeing or doing any outside of the house activities. my roommates invited me out on friday and saturday night, but i declined. or rather, we declined. we were too engrossed with each other and our conversations. i knew staying at home and nursing beers on my rooftop would be a far better use of my time with him in town. and my sister came down on saturday night to join us (i haven’t seen her since christmas). so, for the first time in over fifteen years, all three of us were under the same roof. i was sure to warn my roommates before their arrival that there would be not one, but three Kempins under the same roof on saturday night, to which they rolled their eyes and exclaimed, “oh, f*ck.”)

it was amazing. the night was a blur. i remember every moment, but it passed too quickly. it was like i blinked and it was gone. my sister left for seattle the following day and my brother was supposed to return home with her, but instead extended his stay in san francisco so he could spend more time with me. i returned to work on monday and while i was out of the house, he made his way around the city visiting various museums and attractions. when i arrived home monday night, he treated me and my roommates to a proper wiener schnitzel and more conversation on the roof. when i came home on tuesday evening, he was busy cooking up some more food in the kitchen. this time he made me a ginger and chicken soup for my pending cold (a soup that he says he’s been eating since he was a kid whenever he was sick). how amazing is that ? i would give my left arm for this to be a normal part of my life.

he departed on wednesday and i hugged him in the morning before i left for work and wiped tears from my face on my walk to work, sadder than sad to see him leave. and just like that, he was gone just as quickly as he had arrived. i think my head is still spinning from that weekend. i keep pinching myself that it ever even happened. i have to develop my film to bring this back to life or else this could have just been a dream.

i cannot put this into words. i am not telling this story correctly. i am not doing that weekend any justice. my words seem to be failing me because i don’t think there are words to describe that weekend and what me, my sister, and he must have been feeling. while he was here, i felt like we did just as much watching of each other as we did talking. i felt myself staring at his hands. comparing knuckles. and feeling a chill run down the back of my spine every time he had a similar mannerism as myself. there was one moment in my living room where he was twirling his hair during conversation and i realized i was doing the exact same thing. while he was cooking me soup, he was making a terrific mess in the kitchen. at one point, he cleaned his hands in the sink and wiped the back of his pants to dry them, leaving a large hand print on his grey slacks. at this, i laughed. he is just as wonderfully messy as i am in the kitchen and just as spontaneous with his cooking habits.

and he’s kind. his eyes are so kind and blue. he’s one of the kindest and most genuine people i have ever had the privilege of meeting. i introduced him to a handful of people here and each and every one of them told me thereafter that he was “the coolest guy.” i feel like i won the god d*mn lottery. i feel like the luckiest girl in the world that i get to claim this person as related to me. it goes without saying that we are not going to allow another fifteen years to pass before speaking to or seeing each other again. i’m already making plans in my head for how i can get over to germany to see him as soon as humanly possible.

i wish i could revive my vocabulary. i have been sitting on this post for a few days, unable to breath the life into it that it deserves. every sentence falls short. this entire post misses the mark. but it’s all i have for now. i’m cooking up some good stories to tell and will return to my usually scheduled programming as soon as i develop my roll of film. until then, i’m going to brace myself for my upcoming three day weekend because i have every intention of making some art because guess what ? i have an art show going up on the fifteenth of July and i’d best be prepared.

and my left hand’s ring finger is starting to feel a little naked these days, i’ll tell you more about that in a few days.

[self portrait in a u-haul with one eye closed. nikon 35mm and color film.]

jessi

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i can’t sleep

i’m sick. in the eight months that i’ve lived in San Francisco, i’ve been legitimately sick three times.

when i lived in New York for four years, i was sick about twice a year.

when i lived in Seattle as a kid, i was sick all of the time. but in the three years between New York and San Francisco, i was sick only a few times with very minor sniffles that could hardly be considered a real cold. i never missed a day of work because of it.

San Francisco. there must be something in the water here. or the air. i know that cities aren’t the kindest environments for our immune systems with the bacteria and mold flying around. my immune system also happens to be on the weak side. my white blood cell count is well below average for a normal human being and has been this way since i was a child. i take vitamins daily. i drink plenty of water. i wash my hands on the regular. clearly, my habits were rewarded in Seattle. but here in San Francisco, no such luck. i think i’ve been coughing since November. off and on, of course. i received antibiotics in February for both bronchitis and sinusitis. i may have to go back to the doctor in the next couple of weeks if this newest plague doesn’t subside soon.

however, this time around, i have to make a confession. it was likely self-induced. we have been working our asses off moving an art store. this past weekend, i got four hours of sleep three nights in a row. this wasn’t even intentional. i almost wish i had a good story to tell you about how hard i’ve been partying. but alas, i do not. i’d slip into bed at 10:30, with my alarm set for 6:30am. and then i would toss and turn. i’d read. i’d talk to my cat. i’d think. and then think some more. i even cried a few times out of frustration at not being able to fall asleep. i cried for other reasons, too. before i knew it, 2:30am had rolled around and that is the last number i remember seeing on the clock.

there’s nothing worse than being unable to sleep. i was a professional insomniac for many years. those days are behind me now, but i still have fits of insomnia here and there when life becomes too chaotic. and rationally, i know that there is nothing you can do from your bed at 1:14am. it is pointless to worry about things, but yet i still do. and i know am not alone in this. it’s the wheels turning syndrome. i have wished, on many occasions, that there was a light switch in my head that i could use at bedtime to turn my brain off. i’ve yet to have this dream come true so i continue to muddle along, attempting to control the uncontrollable from my single mattress at one in the morning. when you wake up from little sleep, you feel hungover. whether or not a drop of alcohol has passed through your lips anytime before falling to sleep, you will feel hungover from lack of sleep. your brain hurts. your body aches. and every cell that is holding you together is screaming at you to stay in bed and sleep.

i want to recover by this weekend. nay, i need to. not only is my sister coming to visit, but come friday morning – someone who i have not seen in over fifteen years will be here to see me. i am so excited for his arrival it makes me squeal and squirm with the thought of it. i can’t even go into detail about it. but i am beyond excited. until then..Nyquil.

jessi

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Filed under Year of the Pig Studio // San Francisco, CA

Q :: what is black, white, and red ?

A :: a penguin in a blender.

i learned that version of that joke over a decade ago. and i still love it.

i just submitted a painting to a gallery in North Beach. an eight by eight inch painting of a rose. per usual, in my haste to finish the piece, i completely forgot to take a picture of it. so, said picture will come soon. it’ll be featured at a gallery called ‘Modern Eden.’ owned and operated by two very talented artists, Kim & Bradley.

so, yesterday was Easter ! (duh). i’ve never really had a proper easter. sure, when i was a kid, we attempted to have easter egg hunts in our garden, but by the time my sister and i were ready to hunt these eggs, all i remember is seeing bits of tinfoil strewn across the garden because the crows in the surrounding area had found the chocolate eggs before we did. that really is my most memorable ‘easter egg hunt’ memory. and some may look back on this memory with sadness, but i find it to be nothing short of highly amusing.

i did this drawing last week. killing time in a coffee shop.

the weather in san francisco is completely unpredictable. we have cherry blossoms blooming. but yet. but yet.. we have rain. bone cold chilling weather. and then mid seventies sunshine. and then fog so thick it is not longer fog, but actually becomes rain. and to be honest ? i actually love how unpredictable the weather is. perhaps this is because i am have a spontaneous personality ? but i think it has a lot more to do with my time spent living in seattle, where the forecast almost always included rain. and if it didn’t, you still assumed that it did (and this assumption was more often than not accurate). a rainy morning in san francisco rarely means a rainy evening and vice versa. so the trees seem to respond accordingly, acting as if they know what is expected of them because of the certain season they are in. so cherry blossoms bloom. and fall to the ground. and i have the opportunity to draw them.

la vie en rose et la vie en couleur.

(staedtler fineliner in moleskin)

jessi

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Filed under design, illustration (both acrylic and oilt)