28 May 2006

In the Bay Area

I spent the past two days doing some crazy exploration of the area, partly to support my novel, and partly for my own good.

I started off by meeting with a member of Democracy Cell Project, Fe Bongolan, for lunch. As a small business consultant, she had one advice for me: relocate, or expand, into the Bay Area. Especially given my current personal and professional life situation, expanding into the Bay Area over the next few years would make a lot of sense. It would also wash away the bittersweet feelings I had from the dot-com bust of 2000. On a more personal level, she was surprised to find that I was trangender (I had assumed that everyone at DCP knew). We also did some plotting for the future of the country.

Fe also led me to go to San Francisco's annual Carnaval and its grand parade today. I had a good time, soaking in the cultures of various Latin American nationalities represented in the Mission District, and even getting a glimpse of Congresswoman Barbara Lee, whose principled lone opposition to the Afghan war was at first considered treasonous but now seen as patriotic.

Aside from these two biggies, I also visited San Francisco's Union Street (where I bought a bubble bath at Lush), Haight-Ashbury, and Castro yesterday, and spent today at Santa Rosa's Charles Schulz Museum as well as my former home in Concord. It was so nice to drive the familiar streets of Contra Costa County once again - but this time, in a BMW.

Here are the pictures that show my whereabouts.

UC Berkeley's infamous "naked guy" from the 1990s recently died in jail. This flyer near the campus advertises a memorial for him, taking place in a few hours.

The corner of Haight and Ashbury, San Francisco's most famous intersection, and the center of the counterculture movement. Today though, there is a Gap store right under these signs. But the nonconformist spirit lives on; I could see it in supermarket cashiers with multiple body piercings (try finding that on a Safeway cashier!).

This pair of mannequins, apparently in a lesbian intercourse, grace the entrance to a vintage clothing store in Haight-Ashbury.

The AIDS epidemic in the gay men's community was first reported in June 1981. This memorial in the Castro district, San Francisco's "the" gay neighborhood, marks the 25th anniversary of a disease that has hit that community, and many others, very hard. Of course, having Pat Buchanan say AIDS was "God's retribution for homosexuality," and having Ronald Reagan cut AIDS research funding based on that, did not help.

One of the many dance troupes from all over Latin America (and a few places elsewhere) participating today in the Carnaval, taking place late this morning in the Mission District.

Here's Congresswoman Barbara Lee (at the top) at the Carnaval.

A model of Snoopy, Woodstock, and Snoopy's home at the Charles Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa. In the guestbook, I wrote down my memories of my very first stuffed animal - a Snoopy given by my kindergarten.

I lived in this Concord apartment from 1999 to early 2001. The feeling of hitting its entranceway, but this time in something other than my junk Ford that used to be garaged here, was very refreshing.

Tomorrow, before going home, I expect to hit Redwood City and Pacifica for novel-related sights. Hope this goes well. Most importantly, being away from the madness back in Southern California, and my family, has been very good to my spirits. (And so is being able to prance around the Bay Area in a minidress and trendy footless tights.)