I feel like I must explain this post – if it sometimes seems like I’m critical of the mainstream life, it’s not that – no, not at all. I don’t dislike kids – I’m an advocate for them. I don’t dislike motherhood – only when it’s abused in some way.
G.K. Chesterton said it best – the real problem comes when normal, good things are taken out of context and elevated beyond what they should be. I’m never a fan of anything that’s overdone or overblown.
And so I write this post that’s been brewing inside me for awhile and I must speak it.
5 Things The World Thinks They’ve Just Invented
- Digital Publishing
- Tattoos and Body Piercings
- Asian Food & Travel
Before my Silicon Valley technical writer days, my early days in the Bay Area were spent working in the historic Flood Building on the corner of Powell and Market next to the Cable Car Turnaround. I was a copy editor, production editor, and typesetter for companies in advertising, public relations, printing, and publishing so I’ve been working in digital technology and computers since the latter half of the 1970s. So pardon me if I’m a bit “tech’d” out by now.
But before all of that, I was conceived in San Francisco somewhere in the same vicinity of the Flood Building – my newlywed parents were living a tiny apartment on Market Street for a month before my dad was shipped overseas around the tail end of the Korean War.
I wrote about my San Francisco grown-up days in I Was a San Francisco MadWoman. How I used to take BART in from my Daly City apartment, which I revisited in 22 Years in a Day. And walked from Powell and Market to North Beach in my black skirt, top, and heels as shown, waiting in the bar for my ex to finish work and getting hit on by men who wanted to “be my husband for the night.”
Much of my latest novel, French Martini, captures the spirit of those days. If you read the scene of the man dressed in a business suit who whispered naughty things in my ear, well, yes, that really happened but, perhaps, in more graphic terms. 🙂
Tattoos and Body Piercings
One of my co-workers back in the early ’80s was covered in tattoos – yes, his entire body. And we know because we went to a costume party and he went as a flasher. Yep, he wore nothing under his coat and he definitely flashed the party. We called him “Mr. Tattoo.”
Other co-workers had body piercings and rainbow hair and tomahawks way before anybody else did.
Naturally, working in San Francisco, we mingled with the Gay Community. Before Bridget Jones claimed Gays as BFFs, we did, too. My boss was “married” to his partner before it was legal in California. One of my favorite co-workers was Ed, who just happened to be Gay. I remember at least one Lesbian in the group. She liked to give neck massages to her co-workers. Or was it just me? 🙂
Anyway, we all worked together, played together, and attended weddings together. Nothing new or unusual.
I also remember taking out-of-state guests to Finocchios on Columbus Avenue back in the day. What a hoot that was my the leading transvestite winked at my macho step dad. This was way back in the late ’70s. I wrote about that in San Francisco Dive Bars. I also stumbled into my first gay bar by mistake.
But do we need to change surveys from “male or female” to “male female or other” because of those who claim to be transgender like somebody in my class insisted was only fair? I held my tongue then but I’m going to say it right here on this blog. No, I don’t think so. When you’re born, you’re either a male or female and the doctor writes it on your birth certificate. Where you go sexually after that has nothing to do with your gender at birth.
Ethnic Food and Travel
It’s not that unique today because Sushi and other once exotic food from India, Viet Nam, China and Japan have made their way to small-town America, but, still, not everybody has embraced it. I remember when we took our co-workers from Boston to Chinatown and the poor guy, who only eats regular meat and potatoes, couldn’t find anything to eat until we stopped for ice cream afterwards.
We all ended up above the Golden Gate Bridge at about two o’clock in the morning and I remember Chuck riding in the back seat between Joan and me. I think Joan let John P. drive back. Those were the days having fun adventures with co-workers.
I also took a trip to Asia with the Cadence gang. We flew to Hong Kong and then on to Singapore and Bangkok. What an adventure. It’s commonplace now – heck, people even live in Asia from all over now – you see that on International Househunters, but back in the day, well, we were trailblazers.
Besides babysitting, I learned a lot about pregnancy and babies from my mother by the time I was 10. I remember her pregnancy with my youngest sibling, who was born when I was 9 years and 9 months old very well. I went on the doctor appointments, I took those long walks in the neighborhood hoping to induce labor. I remember the false labor and her reluctance to return to the hospital when her labor pains were only about a minute apart.
I remember the diaper changing, the diaper pails, the diaper bag, heating the bottles, testing the bottles, feeding the baby and burping the baby every 2 ounces and then 4 ounces. I was right there doing much of it. This was in the early 1960s.
True, I didn’t experience it myself – I really didn’t want to. And I didn’t know how the Bay Area women did it – I applaud them. But my friends were ones who took it in stride as a part of life – not the part of life.
The world has changed so much and I don’t know where that world went.