Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Live From the Mission At Another Meetup...

Feel like I'm time traveling...I'm all over the City working with the same people throughout the week.

It's nighttime in the Mission. Probably a bit dodgy for the girl from Northwest Ohio/Southwest Missouri, but MS teases me that I have what I call a "mace face"...which is a face that arrested him once when he turned to talk to me during a walk through the Tenderloin. My brother worries about me when I make faces like that. I don't blame him. I worry about me when I come home from work in Oakland and it's still the look on my face an hour and half after I've left the heathen.

No, that's not fair. Not all of Oakland is bad. The 50 AC Transit line bus isn't great though. And the currently notorious Fruitvale station is a mere stop before mine at the Coliseum. I'm not pleased. I didn't move all the way out here to work in the ghetto, dammit.

Enough of the rant. So here's the plan, as previously discussed...

Tuesday nights I have a Meetup called Shut Up & Write in the SoMA district at Crossroads Cafe. That Meetup I use for my short story work, with pen and paper and good old fashioned penmanship. There are over 300 people signed up to be in this group, but on Tuesday nights we only have room for 14 or 15 people, so the thought is to create other Meetups throughout the Bay Area. So someone decided that they wanted to stay on the East side of the heap big pond here, so another group was started on Monday nights in Oakland at 7:30 pm. (I don't currently go to that one but I could probably start and make it three nights a week of's just that the thought of being in Oakland after dark makes me nervous, and then there's the long trip home when I am exhausted. I'm still holding out for more energy, though.)

Recently it was decided to open up another one in the City proper, and that it would be held at an earlier time frame on Wednesday nights in the Mission at Mission Creek Cafe. Here we are, a motley flotsam of writers tapping and scratching out poetry, science fiction, short stories, and yours truly the only blog this evening. I am always and ever eager and amazed by any size group that we get together. 'Course, this is the girl who thrilled to have at least one other person in the Red Cross classes two summers ago, so to me any writing group of at least two is an accomplishment. I remember my first attempts to join writing groups here in San Francisco involved flakey facilitators who didn't even show up themselves. So for me to be a part of two group functions this feels like junior prom.

Mission Creek is kind of a funky venue, with two rooms like Crossroads, but the two rooms separated by the counter instead of a book display. MC is much funkier than Crossroads, but it's in the MISSION, so I'm fine with this. I feel like a bohemian (as much as I can with a laptop). The front room is spare but full of mismatched chairs and booths, and the back room has a vast bookshelf full of used books to sell or read that rises from the floor to the ceiling. There are outlets in f-you quantities, as Brooklyn Funk Essentials would say, which is the main draw with having the session here as opposed to the better-brewed Ritual down the way on Valencia. These tables fit three to a composer here, and some of us are arranged that way. The wonderful thing about sharing with a laptop is that someone else at my table doesn't mess up my penmanship. But with the penmanship at Crossroads I just end up writing on my lap and all is well.

I'm a bit spent. I have been writing extensively for at least three days, after four months of forcing post-it note-sized wedges of prose in each day on the blog and rewriting the beginning of my short story twenty-six times because "I know I can do better." The facilitator of the Tuesday night session finally told me to loosen my grip a little and write the worst story on the face of the planet, but AT LEAST WRITE THE DAMN THING. I'm nearly finished, as of last night...I have to write the egenue's part (yeah, sue me for my spelling on that one...the short story feels like Cole Porter and I plan to work on my French this year, c'est vrai) and then arrive at an ending.


You mean I have to end the short story?

Yes, Jo, you do.

So in the next week Draft One of that slab should be done.

But on Wednesdays I have a letter for you, dear reader, a slice of my life from the Mission, where the Spanish hits the sidewalk like a tortilla steamer pressing and the kids are ALL about the funk. I've never seen so many young people outside of a college campus. Also encouraging is an abundance of indie bookstores, the 33 line to Stanyan to the Number 6 line, the swell of restaurants (may have to treat myself on Wednesdays). I plan to write for the full hour, I plan to take a pair of literary meat cleavers and cut you off some, yeah, with lots of City in the middle like meatloaf.

A week off and she acts like a poet or some such. ;)

On Wednesday nights I may give you the Mission, or I may give you the Sunset, or I may give you BART, but Lord help me if I give you any whine and cheez from WORK. I don't want to talk about work. When I leave work I want to give you what lies outside, even if that means I have to give you the green Caltrans "Oakland, Population _____" sign that lies a mere 500 feet north of my workplace. When I see that sign I feel free, sort of. But I don't want to give you work. Anything that happens at work is entirely my fault. Any injustice there means I didn't take care of myself that day, and frickin' shame on me. Shame on me and my last shred of pride. 2009 means that I get to start over and I don't get to get beat up or bullied by employees that in past places of employment would have to kiss my ass. That stays in San Leandro. Once I walk out the door, then I look for you, dear reader. I give you the sunset over Alameda. I give you the clearest of evenings where I can see my backyard Sutro tower taller than the Bay can hide with the curviture of the Earth. I give you the guy reading the same book that I am, and I supposedly have a "chick" book in my hands. I give you the little boy who runs the tips of his fingers through the head of his father's beer. I give you the palest pastel of a candy store in Hayes Valley. I give you an anarchist's view of group therapy literature in the Haight. I give you the bus driver who stopped again to pick up a late passenger AND greeted the passenger warmly.

I give you Moraga: the street, the hill, the cat.

And I give you Philz coffee.

I plan to write a story of the Bay and better the City for you on Wednesday. Motley flotsam. Lemon ginger tea. And you don't even have to meet me for coffee. Just boot up and kick back. Welcome to San Francisco.

My home away from home.

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