Adventures of a Bay Area Boomer

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

  1. Digital Publishing
  2. Tattoos and Body Piercings
  3. Gays/Lesbians
  4. Asian Food & Travel
  5. Motherhood

Digital Publishing

ready_big_flood_bldgBefore 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.

retro_candyred_kathyI 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.

Gays/Lesbians

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.

dragqueens2I 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.

GGbridgeWe 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.

Motherhood

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.

Wild and Crazy Days

Some of my junior high/high school friends on Facebook were talking about the past and some of the crazy things they did and it was such fun looking back together. So then I decided to repost this story about looking into the past and what I found.

So I started browsing Facebook for kids I’d gone to school with. You know – there’s that one boy you thought about and you always wondered what happened to him.

You remember him carrying your books home from school, listening to your Elvis albums in your garage (with the garage door open, of course), playing his guitar, calling you on the phone, writing that first “love letter” after he moved 8 miles away – all the way to Anaheim – and then he surprised you by riding his bike over to see you. 🙂

Besides finding him on Facebook, I found him on youtube playing his guitar. That was pretty cool. And then I realized, oh my goodness, he was my first “bad” boy – lol! I’d never thought of him that way before, although I did write some of his papers for him – those “Write 500 times ‘I Will Not…'” kind of papers. And how he told me he broke up with Judy because she didn’t like to kiss. I think I kept my distance after that – lol – what would my mother think or more importantly, what would she do?! Well, we were only 11/12 then.

Those are the kind of memories you never forget and the older you get, the more you appreciate them.

The Lure of Las Vegas

folies-bergereTo many people, Las Vegas is one thing: a dry, dusty place where gambling is pervasive. They imagine you’re living on The Strip or in a casino itself. What they don’t realize is Las Vegas is all of that but so much more.

Las Vegas to me means there’s a feeling of excitement in the air, resort pools in the dry desert, an early morning sunrise breakfast of silver dollar pancakes, wide-open drives in the desert, sunshine almost every day, night skies lit up by neon or even stars if you’re distant enough, casinos, celebrity chefs, and entertainment. Each day we’re back I’m reminded of the joy of calling this place home.

I grew up in southern California with family visits to Las Vegas so Las Vegas isn’t “sin city” to me – that’s a marketing ploy they came up with in recent years. It was not “sin city” when I was growing up. Not only was I introduced to Las Vegas when I was 7 or 8 when my step dad drove the family to Las Vegas so he could play craps to keep his hands busy while trying to quit smoking, but my grandparents drove here from SoCal to renew their vows – not at a kitschy drive-through wedding chapel but by a friend, a Baptist minister, who remarried them in his church. One aunt lived here for a few years – another regularly celebrates her birthday every August and she’s in her 80s now – lol!

Las Vegas is Elvis, trade shows, the old Tropicana with its French Can Can dancers in the Folies Bergere show, and classic Vegas performers like Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Tom Jones, Tony Bennett, Liberace, the Jersey Boys, and many others I’ve seen. It was meeting people from all over the world at a dinner show or staying up late for the cocktail show, seeing Siegfried & Roy for the price of 2 drinks – wow – those were the days!

Maybe I can blame it on my French grandfather but I was fascinated by the Can Can and dance my own little version of it wearing my “stand-out” slip underneath my skirt when I played with my cousins at my grandmother’s house. Looking back, I can see that I was destined to live in Las Vegas.

My father also has fond memories of Vegas – he’d love to live at Bellagio – lol! And so it makes Vegas even more special because he’s so pleased I’m back living here in my own home with my husband and fur babies with a new one on the way.

Viva Las Vegas!

(Las Vegas is the setting in The Tom Jones Club and Viva Las Vegas.)

Fathers and Daughters

Father Ed and Iyanla both mentioned the importance of fathers to daughters. And when a daughter doesn’t have that father (her father – not any father) or a good relationship with her father, she looks for him in all the wrong men for the rest of her life. Unless she gets healing.

Women who are molested, abused, or did not know their father growing up are more likely to have abortions, be promiscuous, be a single mother, give their child up for adoption, or marry the wrong men. But finding the right man doesn’t mean you’re healed and can then move on to the next chapter of your life. You may be afraid to have children – you may not want to re-create the chaos of family life or know how to create a loving family. As Father Ed said, your maturity is interrupted by those damaging events of your past.

How do you become a mother when you’re still waiting to be somebody’s daughter?

So how do you become a mother when you’re still waiting to be somebody’s daughter? I didn’t want to be somebody’s mother. I didn’t want to recreate the volatile relationship I had with mine. I didn’t know my father – how could I have children when I didn’t know what kind of man he might be? I had things to do and my culture, religion, and upbringing reinforced all of that.

And then I was called to be Catholic. I met my father. My eyes were opened and I could see the beauty of motherhood. I could then embrace being a spiritual mother to others and the spiritual daughter of Jesus’ mother, the Theotokos.

Myths of the Fatherless tells the story of my search for my father, the impact of not knowing your biological father, and includes tips/resources on dealing with those issues.

Finding God on West Cliff Drive

It’s appropriate we should spend time at the Shrine of St. Joseph because St. Joseph is the patron saint for fathers, men, anger, families, and step families to name a few. Ever since we worshipped at the St. Joseph parish as part of Mission San Jose, I’ve been drawn to St. Joseph. As Catholic converts, we continue to discover the power, strength, and beauty of the Church.

As I’ve mentioned before, we’ve had very special spiritual experiences at Shrines. In Orlando, spending prayer time in the chapel, we were reassured that Rich would survive his hospital ordeal last year in Florida and we hung onto that for dear life.

When we look around the Orlando Shrine and see so many on vacation attending Mass or spending time in the chapel, well, we’re quite impressed that so many of the Catholic faithful do this on vacation. We love being a part of that! Orlando will always have a special place in our hearts – the Shrine and WDW – what a combo!

Recently, old family issues have caused some new upset in my life. But, as part of my prayer time in the chapel, I realized I could reach out to the Holy Family as my family. We began a quest for healing on this weekend’s trip to the beach, and it resulted in our visit to the Shrine. It was such a blessing and one we’ll recall for years to come.

Finding God on West Cliff Drive

It’s appropriate we should spend time at the Shrine of St. Joseph because St. Joseph is the patron saint for fathers, men, anger, families, and step families to name a few. Ever since we worshipped at the St. Joseph parish as part of Mission San Jose, I’ve been drawn to St. Joseph. As Catholic converts, we continue to discover the power, strength, and beauty of the Church.

As I’ve mentioned before, we’ve had very special spiritual experiences at Shrines. In Orlando, spending prayer time in the chapel, we were reassured that Rich would survive his hospital ordeal last year in Florida and we hung onto that for dear life.

When we look around the Orlando Shrine and see so many on vacation attending Mass or spending time in the chapel, well, we’re quite impressed that so many of the Catholic faithful do this on vacation. We love being a part of that! Orlando will always have a special place in our hearts – the Shrine and WDW – what a combo!

Recently, old family issues have caused some new upset in my life. But, as part of my prayer time in the chapel, I realized I could reach out to the Holy Family as my family. We began a quest for healing on this weekend’s trip to the beach, and it resulted in our visit to the Shrine. It was such a blessing and one we’ll recall for years to come.

Real Women Sing the Blues Excerpt

In Real Women Wear Red, you meet Cyn, Sandy, and Millie on a Caribbean cruise. But in the sequel, Real Women Sing the Blues, Robin joins the women in Hawaii. To receive news of this release, please fill out the Newsletter form.

Here’s an excerpt from the first chapter, introducing Robin.

1
As The World Turns
Robin

I remember the exact moment when my world shifted. The air in my SoHo loft felt chilled and too hot at the same time when moments ago the gas fireplace had warmed the coolness of the black and white furnishings to the perfect temperature. The neon lights flashed the name of the latest theatre performance; one I’d seen two or three times and every time, wished that I was starring in it.

In that moment, I knew I could no longer continue to be a Wall Street monkey, and somewhere out there the blues were calling my name.

My mother, Millie Evans, had just returned from a nonstop round of winter Caribbean cruises, followed by weeks of summer Bermuda cruises, and a short season of fall New England cruises. That was Millie for you—she always knew what to do when.

So, I was surprised when she called me and said that she was two blocks from my loft and asked that I meet with her. At first, fear landed in my belly as my mind immediately shifted to worry. But she reassured me it wasn’t serious. “Well, not serious like death or divorce,” she’d said. Why would she bring up death or divorce?

When I opened the door, she hugged me tightly, tighter than usual for her. I noticed the red outfit she was wearing with such panache, and smiled because I knew it was her favorite color. It was eight p.m. and I’d only been home briefly after sharing a couple of cocktails with friends downtown. I’d changed into my blue sweats and a t-shirt, because blue was my favorite color. It relaxed me, calmed me, chilled me to a more normal temperature that my heart rate preferred over the red-hot days of life on Wall Street.

After inviting her in, I offered her a glass of wine, and she turned it down, which surprised me. If it was one thing I knew about my mother was that she rarely turned down a glass of wine or cocktail. It was ubiquitous with Millie Evans. Had she been taking the doctor’s advice to give up smoking and drinking? Somehow, I doubted that. I was more convinced it had to do with the news she had to deliver and my spine stiffened, preparing me to hear the worst.

I poured myself a glass of red wine, and sat down on the white leather sofa, encouraging her to do the same. Instead, she started pacing the room, stopping to stare out the floor-to-ceiling windows. Suddenly, she turned toward me, her hands wringing like a nineteen fifties sitcom mother like Margaret in “Father Knows Best.” Although, in this case, the show in our house would be “Mother Knows Best.”

She cleared her throat and said, “Robin, dear, there’s something I must tell you.” I could have predicted that. Wasn’t that why she was here?

She sat down next to me and surrounded my hands with her hands, which were ice cold, unlike the usual warm, comforting hands I remembered all throughout my childhood. I’d always loved that about her, that no matter how crappy my day had been, she’d greet me with those warm, comforting hands and my whole life got better just by her touch. This was not happening now.

“Robin,” she began again, “your father…” Her voice trailed off and I wondered what she could possibly tell me about my father who had died a few years ago. What could be this upsetting? The family fortune was no more? Or a new surprise heir was claiming the family fortune?

I Was a San Francisco Mad Woman

My tagline was inspired by following a guy on twitter called FrankAdMan from San Francisco. Apparently, he’s some kind of character from 1963, Mad Man-style. And that reminded me of my own San Francisco (M)ad Woman days, albeit a bit after that era, when I worked in the historic James Flood Building on Market and Powell where the cable cars turn around.

I miss those heady, creative days as a freelance production artist working on ad copy, books, brochures, etc, for ad agencies, publishers, and printers (before my high-tech Silicon Valley days). Some of my most well-known projects were for clients such as the Orange Bowl, the Grand Nationals Rodeo at San Francisco’s Cow Palace, and a biographer for The Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia.

I’ve loved all aspects of publishing for as long as I can remember – from the first words I called my own when I penned my first piece of fiction in childhood to the first time I entered a print shop one sunny October day in southern California with my junior high journalism class. To this day, I can’t walk inside a print shop and inhale that scent without flashing back to that day.

So when a writer friend said, “They say that when you move to Paris, you’ve become serious about writing,” I thought something similar about Las Vegas. “When you move to Las Vegas, you’ve become serious about music.” After all, it is the “Entertainment Capital of the World.”

When we moved to Las Vegas, I interviewed with a client for a technical writing project and they asked me to sing in the interview.

I took voice lessons with a Broadway performer from “Mamma Mia!”

My husband bought me a keyboard for Christmas one year, and one of the most exciting experiences was entering the music store to pick out some music – I hadn’t done that since I’d sung in high school.

Watching Nashville, I started doodling with lyrics, thinking about songwriting, my musical family, and my agent’s words about my writing having a “poetic, almost lyrical rhythm.”

The summer of 2014 was the “summer of Elvis.” I stood on the stage where Elvis performed over 800 shows in the former International/Las Vegas Hilton, held a microphone, and felt so comfortable up there. This surprised me because I only felt intimidated when I stood on the stage of the Ryman.

I held the microphone in my hand and felt very comfortable up there and that surprised me because I felt intimidated when I stood on the Ryman stage.

Was I more comfortable because it was Elvis or because I’m now paying attention to my music? Whatever the reason, I’m now inspired to give my music classes all I’ve got. I have a feeling it’ll spill over into my writing, too.

After all, writers must write. And until you do, you’ll sidle up to other writers and writing tools just like I sidled up to the keyboard on the Elvis stage – my inner musician was screaming at me to get busy.

So I enrolled in the “Modern Musician” certificate program with Berklee College of Music, joined NSAI (Nashville Songwriter’s Association International) and became an NSAI-certified songwriter at the end of 2014.

My goal for 2015 is to determine which path I want to follow – that of commercial songwriter or singer/songwriter, performing songs I’ve written just for me. Or something I do while I sit at my desk pondering life and writing.

Whatever happens, I must say, my biggest musical passion is singing. So I’ve been recording some of my rehearsal vocals, as I work on tuning the vocals, practicing the keys, and working on my next song.