Tag Archives: California

49er Fantasy

No, not the football team.  Euw.

The miner kind of 49ers.

I’m from California, and the Gold Rush of 1849 has always been one of my most favorite periods in history.

The other day my daughter and I were watching a documentary of the pioneers and the Gold Rush.  It told the story of a family who went west to seek their fortune.  Usually men went without their wives and children and just hoped to make a bunch of money to bring home, or send for their families later.  But this family took off together.

When they arrived, the lady found that the miners would pay five dollars to have a meal cooked by a woman, which of course was a lot of money back then.  Well, maybe not to a guy who just found a bunch of gold nuggets in a creek and has blown phenomenal amounts of cash on booze and prostitutes.  Five bucks for a “home cooked” meal would be nothing.

But anyway, these miners had gone so long without being fed by their womenfolk, not to mention even seeing a woman up close, that she was greatly appreciated.  So much so that she was able to open a restaurant and make a tidy living off her culinary skills.

Now I know that some people fantasize about being Eddie Van Halen, or Angelina Jolie, or maybe even Bill Gates.  Having fame, fortune and glory is a commonplace desire.  But I haven’t felt as envious of anyone’s life as I felt hearing about this woman feeding all those men, winning their innocent affections and being compensated handsomely.  

I imagine, being her, I would feel like the most beneficent goddess mother, appeasing the boys’ stomachs and comforting their loneliness (she had her husband there, so I’m assuming that she was relatively safe from untoward advances.  Either way, nothing inappropriate figures into this particular fantasy of mine!)  They would adore me, looking up at me with their sad, scruffy, hungry puppy dog faces as I set before them some stew and biscuits still hot from the oven.  It would fill their bellies and warm their hearts and their homesickness wouldn’t sting quite so badly for just those few moments.  After their many months of perilous journeying, miserable gold panning, lousy food and rough male company, just the swishing of my clean skirts as I went to fetch the coffee would be like music to their ears.

Silly, I know.  But if a person’s fantasies reveal their essence, then I am all about food, earning a good living and being an adored mother-figure.  

I can live with that.

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This is where I’m from

The land of the treesitters.

Good ol’ Cali-forn-eye-ay.

The land where we stand up for, or sit down for, what we believe in, even if it means living among the ticks and going showerless for a month.

Of course, normal folks can’t afford to live there, but damn it, there will be trees, and old ones too!  Miles of virgin forests for the rich people and the starving hippies to enjoy!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a tree-hugger.  When I lived in Santa Cruz, I cried right along with everyone else when I found out that the magnificent old Walnut across the street from my work had been cut down because the Mercedes owner who regularly parked under it was tired of scraping the bird crap off his windshield.  

I’ve become attached to all manner of trees because they were on the property where I lived and I’d spent many hours gazing lovingly at their leaves waving in the wind.  

If I am ever fortunate enough to own a piece of land, I’d like to have all kinds of trees, depending on the climate: if it was warm enough, I’d love to have orange trees, avocados, peaches, maybe a kiwi.  If it was a colder climate, I’d love to have apple trees, a pine grove, hopefully a redwood.

And should someone decide, for a really dumb cosmetic reason, to cut down an awesome tree that lives on public property in my community, I might even show up to protest.  I’d of course have to go home to my own bed and toilet at night, thank you very much, but I could lend my voice to the cause.  I’m very supportive of trees.  

I can’t help it. It’s in my Californian blood.

And it’s a fun place to be from, you know, people think you’re a nutjob so you get to be little on the funky side of normal.  You get to say “Dude” as much as you like.  You get to make a big stink about things that most people don’t even think twice about, like trimming hedges.  Cuz the hedges have integrity, you know, and it is not within our earthly mandate to limit their personal growth.  

And if I forget to take a shower on any given day, Hey!  I was up a tree, saving it’s life!  Give a gal a break, man!

And could you remove the ticks from the back of my neck, when you get a chance?

We may not be the original environmentalists, but we’ve taken the discipline about as far as it’ll go, baby!

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RapLeaf based in California… of course

RapLeaf, the site dedicated to helping people to trust one another, is based in California.  Of course.

Being from the Golden State myself, it makes perfect sense to me that this is where they would come up with such an idea, to “help” people trust each other.  Here in North Carolina, where I am currently in residence, if you told someone that before they do business, they should get advice from an online reputation rating site, they would most likely chuckle and look puzzled.  What a crazy idea.  Citizens of this area, why, they’ve done business with the same people their whole lives.  If they needed a new service, they’d talk to their friends and get a recommendation.

It’s only in a place like California, in the Wild West, where the cowboys roam and the gold diggers are ready to stab you in the back, that they would suffer such a crisis of untrustworthiness.

And what is the solution?  Not get to know your neighbor better, not develop a face-to-face network of trustworthy humans, not conduct the bulk of your commerce with people in the real world, not guard against losing yourself in the online capitalist free-for-all.  No, just log on to a self-appointed reputation judging site and let them decide for you!  After all, the members of the team have stellar ratings themselves!  So of course they are trustworthy!.

I’m up to a rating of 12, not sure how.  That’s 12 out of a million, don’t forget.  So, honestly, trust me, you shouldn’t believe a thing I say. 

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The Ten Best Things About Being a Raiders Fan

1. The coolest logo ever

2. The best colors ever

3. You can appreciate them being in Oakland the way you never did before their defection to LA

4. They can’t ever disappoint you any more than they already have

5. When they win it is as awesome as Christmas, since they are both events that only happen about once a year (although this year they’ve won twice so far! woo hoo!)

6. If you’re from Oakland (like yours truly) then you can’t be accused of being on the bandwagon, you’re just given props as an extremely loyal fan who won’t abandon their team during their decades of trouble

7. If you’re not from Oakland, you can’t be accused of being on the bandwagon, since to be on the bandwagon implies you are rooting for a non-hometeam just because they happen to be winning

8. They always get one of the first picks in the draft

9. If you’ve ever been to the Oakland Coliseum (now called McAfee), you know it is next to a really cool building that looks like a toy drum

10. It gives you yet another reason to hate the 49ers

Did I forget anything? Can we make it 11?

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“Where are you from?”

“Where am I from?”

This question has always caused me no end of consternation, and for this reason my meditations on the idea of “place,” “where,” and “belonging” will most certainly extend infinitely. Or at least until my “place” is six feet under.

(I’m lying, of course. I intend to be cremated. But “six feet under” is a more powerful phrase than “scattered and randomly dissipated across a small area of dirt and/or water.”)

My husband knows exactly where he is from. He was born and lived in the same place until he left home, and he is the third generation to have done so. He can go back there and many people know him and remember him.

There is only one place I could go where anyone would know me, but that is a place I lived for 14 years of my adult life. I don’t think that counts.

On an official government form, I would respond that I am “from” Hayward, California. That is where the hospital was. Never lived there, worked there, just one small piece of the urban sprawl that is the San Francisco Bay Area.

On a less official form or in a face to face situation, I will claim to be from Oakland, California. My reasoning: one can drive from Hayward into Oakland and never even realize a border has been crossed. Also, lots more people know where Oakland is, or at least have heard of it. And finallly, it legitimizes my rooting for the Raiders.

I only lived in the Bay Area until I was 9, then we moved to Mendocino, where I spent my formative years, graduated, then got the hell out, as was expected of everyone. It is not a place you stay. Can I be “from” there? Sure, who’s gonna know, but it seems to be a stretch. There is no one left there who would know me, which doesn’t seem like much of a hometown.

And so, like many Californians, I would imagine, we have to legally and socially be “from” somewhere, but we don’t really feel it. There isn’t the heartwrenching, visceral connection, stretching down through generations (none of my elders are “from” California), there is just the desire for it.

I suppose the only viable solution would be to move to Hayward and invest myself in the community by making connections, working, living, etc. But have you been to that concrete jungle? Bleh.

Perhaps rootless is the way to go.

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