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The Grover Beach Crack House

A long time ago, me and my bestie Jen-Wa The Destroyer lived in this place.

Home was where our hearts were and all

We moved in over a long rainy day almost entirely by ourselves after spending about two months living in what we affectionately called the Shell Beach Homeless Person Squat House, or the House that was Managed by a Sexist Insane Person. Or the House With The Stomping Elephant Psycho Neighbor upstairs. Or you know, our first home together. Anyway we got very very sick of sleeping in the same room or sharing a 1 bedroom 1 bathroom apartment for the rental price of a palatial resort so, we moved. Ideally we wanted to move up into San Luis Obispo but there wasn’t anywhere to live and being a college town it’s crazy difficult to get a house/apartment/shack there when you’re in your 20’s. Even when you’ve been living on your own since 18 (Jennifer) and 23 (me) respectively. So when we were at our wits end, a very kind elderly lady called us to come look at an apartment over at the Sunset Terrace.

The Gutter Trash Mafia’s first Christmas, taken in Bakersfield about a month before moving into our “dream home”

And how excited were we! The building reminded us of Los Angeles area 50’s styled apartments. We’d get a PARKING SPACE! There was a pool! If you stood on one foot and leaned this one direction and craned your neck you’d see the Pacific Ocean. There were windows and counters and light and TWO COUNT THEM BITCH, TWO BEDROOMS. It was a whopping 150-200 dollars cheaper per month. There was more than one set of washers and driers on the property. The carpet wasn’t fugly shag green. We thought this was going to be the best thing ever. And best of all no one would live underneath us.  Holy balls, it was like we were the Beverly Hillbillies.

Every bit of our happiness had a price and I ended up in this dump for 4 years.

Dump you say? Why would something so wonderful ever be a dump?

No offense to the landlords, who were very kind to us during our stint there at this hell hole but they were really too kind to a lot of our neighbors as well, to the point you’d THINK the damn building was built around these freakshows. For one there was the naked cat lady. I can’t remember her name now and she was pretty freakin’ nice but holy crap in a building where you’re not allowed pets, to have 3-5 cats at a time that you 1-don’t even try to hid and 2-have taken your screen out and allow them to wander in and out at all hours of the day, who bless their furry faces, just YOWL at all hours of the day… well that’s pretty extreme. And oh yes, the naked part….

Remember how we had a pool and I gotta tell you, pools are scarce on the Central Coast. I mean the ocean/beach is right freakin’ there. But having a pool saves you from all that driving and public restrooming and paying tourist prices for a simple day in the sun. Naked Cat Lady had a little spot next to our pool. It WAS fenced off and originally intended for people who like to line dry their clothes, but Naked Cat Lady built herself kind of a clubhouse back there with her little radio, a camper shell to store her special lawn chair in and god only knows what she was drinking but it was either Pink Wine or Scotch most times I saw her. She’d go in this little area and just get butt naked and lay out in the sun listening to the radio and drinking something god awful, with her cats any time the sun was out. Let me just remind you that Naked Cat Lady was about 70 years old. I’ll probably turn into Naked Cat Lady when I’m 70 but it was pretty disconcerting to always be talking to a naked lady surrounded by cats through a fence. When her kids came up to take her to her retirement home around the time Jennifer moved away, Naked Cat Lady “gave” me her fort back there because I’d always been nice to her and she knew I liked the pool area. I never used it because, that’s weird, but what a nice gesture.

If there had just been a Naked Cat Lady we would’ve been fine. But oh no the cast of characters at this place went much deeper. For instance there were the Truck Driving Lesbians down the hall from us. If you’ve read this blog for five minutes or more you know I LOVE me some lesbians. Except for these two who seemed to only have two activities in their life: beating the shit out of each other and getting the cops called on them and leering in an unflattering way at Jennifer and I when we’d go to the pool, do laundry, leave the house, not be wearing burkas, etc. There was one night I walked past their apartment to get to the laundry room and they were out there being all butch and smoking and drinking canned beer and I had sweats on and they were sort of slipping and I yanked them back up pretty quick. It’s rude to show people your butt crack or whatever. One of these gals says to the other one “Stuck up bitch doesn’t want us to see what she’s got.” Since I was about 10 feet away I heard the rest of the conversation. I just went about my business and put my laundry in only to find ALL of my wet clothes on the floor of the laundry room when I went to change over to the dryer. When I finally LOST my mind and told the landlord (we were so poor then, and the 1.50 it cost me to wash those clothes was lost and I only had enough change left to dry them and they were dirtier than when I put them in…) basically I just got handed a roll of quarters and told I was a nice renter. Also to stop walking by their house because they were trouble and “nice” girls like Jennifer and I didn’t want to get mixed up in “that.”

There were a large parade of nuts moving in and out of that place. It was one of the 3 places I lived on the Central Coast that didn’t seem to do ANY kind of checks (I know because they never did a credit check on us, something us broke asses were so grateful for) on anyone who moved in. So there was a lot of moving out under the cover of darkness in trashbags in the building. So anyone that lasted a year seemed to be loved by the management, no matter what sort of assery was going on in the place. They installed Jen and I between two of the oldest, crankiest, biddies. One was just MEAN. She scared off trick or treaters, telling them that there was no candy and that Halloween was the work of the devil and gave me the dirtiest look when I walked out in costume to give these kids a candy bar. One was old as the hills and deaf as a box of socks. She actually was pretty cool once I sat down and talked to her or the time I helped her with her groceries. She told me “that old bitch next door has it in for you girls, don’t be surprised if the cops keep showing up here.” Sylvia was right, we had the cops called on us for a myriad of offenses in the  years Jennifer and I lived together. I can only think of two times we actually deserved it, one when we were getting ready to go out and probably had the radio up too loud in the living room and another time we DID have a band living with us for a couple of days (whoops, hey they cleaned the pool and the managers didn’t give a shit) but we had the cops called on us by this bag for reading in our rooms wearing headphones, watching the 10 o’clock news with the sound on, existing etc. We were nearing noise fine territory according to Grover PD, but one cop told me we lived next door to a crazy woman, she’d done the same thing to her last neighbor and oh hey my show on that radio thingy was pretty good. Bye bye Officer Joe, you were kind of cute by the way.

One day, after Jennifer moved to Boston, I snapped. Even though every other looney in the building was “allowed” to have pets because they moved in before the pet policy (WTF) they said I had to get rid of Lily if I wanted to stay. I’d been cat called by the mean ladies down the way one too many times during my 4 year stay. I didn’t need a 2 bedroom apartment to live in on my own. I’d had my electricity turned off by accident by our sweet old landlord transposing numbers of the latest asshat to move out in the middle of the night. One too many people ran into my car. One too many people had called the cops on me for breathing. I got really tired of the other sweet doddering old man who seemed to think I lived in his girlfriends apartment and kept trying to use his key on the door and almost destroyed my screen door when I started locking that too. I got sick of my own key not bloody working and having to get into my house through the window in my bedroom/finally computer room. Sylvia, my other crazy old lady neighbor finally  just put an upside down flower pot outside my window so I could get in. She got used to it like I got used to her watching tv at maximum volume until 4 in the morning. At least she was pretty cool in the end.

I moved out. I found another little dream home in my favorite part of the coast. I could walk to the beach. I could have a cat or 12 if I wanted. It was close to my girlfriend Kris’s work. I had a parking space. My neighbors were cool, and everything was going to be awesome… so I thought.

Getting ready to go to the Red Fox at the Crack House

The Jennifer Lentil’s going away party

Crack House birthday Party

Crack House New Years

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Dear City of Chico

Okay, I get it, we have a homeless problem. A pretty big one for such a cold place in the winter. And maybe I didn’t research my neighborhood carefully before moving into my apartment in a panic but it’s like a homeless hobo convention up in this bitch at the moment.

I live in a neighborhood that houses SEVERAL rehab centers, I didn’t realize that. County Mental health is a street over. We have a couple of different Vets assistance offices over here. The Blood Bank is across the street. I think Welfare is also down the street. And so is the DMV and you know what kind of people hang out at the DMV. I live right next door to a bike path that is poorly lit and also constantly vandalized, has the homeless and the druggies (no really I’ve seen the discarded crack pipes and syringes over there) hiding out in it during the winter months.

For some reason the city runs the homeless “undesirables” out of downtown around the holidays. It usually starts around Halloween for the trick or treat things they do down there for the kids. Then there’s the Christmas Preview and the other various things that go on around here for the holidays. I get it, we have a giant Christmas tree and kids everywhere and you probably don’t want to see these people all up in your holiday photos. For the moment all of the most famous homeless folks, including the Die Guy live on my block. It’s cool, I get it, rent is expensive, shit sucks, you feel the need to tell everyone to die when they walk by.  But I can’t say it makes the Man in my life feel very safe for me to be out doing my thing, walking back and forth etc.  He’s actually pretty freaked out about it, especially since one of the rehabs on our block seems to have installed a smoking section outside with lawn chairs and ashtrays. Especially since most of the people using this space aren’t clients of the rehab center, they’re just the other random boxes of crazy that stumble off our bike path.

Honestly I don’t mind where I live in town so much. It drives Ben absolutely nuts that I walk everywhere and basically give no fucks about what goes on around here. I think most of our hobos are harmless and I honestly worry more about college kids and my own neighbors than I do the guy having an disagreement with a lamp post or the one dude that seems to talk to cars. (What the fuck, I talk to things that can’t talk back to me all the time? That’s not that weird.) I just wonder if we’re doing anything to help the people who are truly BROKEN here instead of just shuffling them off to one area of town or another. Because some of these people are clearly unemployable and from what I’ve heard from my friends over at the Studio Inn Lounge, they basically just let them out of our local “looney bin,” with 50 bucks and the number to the Jesus Center when they pick them up. I realize this is a pretty common problem in the country, but it makes me sad, as I see it every single day when I’m heading to work.

 

p.s. I know I already blew National Blog Posting Month. Sue me.


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I stand with Planned Parenthood, Big Bird, the Gays, Disaster Relief et all etc

Tomorrow is election day.

I’ll be putting a little box next to my President’s name.

I voted for Barack Obama four years ago and I’m doing it again tomorrow.

You vote for whomever you want, just make sure you vote. You may think it doesn’t make a difference but it does. Especially at a local level so if you’re for or against something at a local level, maybe a cell phone tax or even weed or you hate grocery bags or whatever, your voice MATTERS. So go use it.

See you at the polls.

I didn’t get paid for posting this


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It’s a Girl!

Last night I was sitting with my friends over at the End Zone watching the Alabama game when I got the news, I’m an Auntie again! My friend Chelsea gave birth to the most beautiful baby girl yesterday. May I present you Lily Ryan Dunham.

Isn’t she gorgeous?

 

Chelsea and I met in high school and I have to say she is one of my best friends. We had PE together and shit ton of honors classes. She was always the smartest person in all of my classes and she wasn’t shy. She was mouthy, interesting and I though she was just beautiful. (She still is, it’s just taken her awhile to realize it!) She was also really sensitive and kind and just an all around amazing sex bomb of awesome. Of course I had to be friends with her. Bucket of duh.

Chelsea and I at the Mint some time in 2004

 

One day a long while back Chelsea just got up and moved to Alaska. Just like that, seeyalaterbye, she was in Alaska. I was so shocked and completely impressed. When I moved to San Luis Obispo, it was Chelsea I consulted for advice on how to move, how to be a grown up, should I clip coupons, should I do X Y and Z because she’d already done it and on a much grander scale than I did. We wrote letters and emails and shared blogs while we both pursued our dreams, probably both secretly pleased we’d escaped Bakersfield in the mean time.  And during all this time between escaping Bakersfield and moving to Alaska, Chelsea met Sam and they decided to get married.

This is from the rehearsal dinner

 

I met Sam for the first time when they visited me in San Luis Obispo. Sam is funny and mouthy and quirky and nerdy and well… just freakin’ perfect. He loves all the same things about Chelsea that I love and makes sure she has fun in her life which is one of those really important things for women like Chelsea and I, we get so focused that we forget to have fun. But Sam does that for her and so much more. They have a wonderful relationship and I am so glad. When Chelsea told me they were going to start trying for a baby, I couldn’t think of anyone who would be better parents than these two.

And yesterday that happened. My strong, beautiful, amazing friend had her daughter yesterday morning. And as Fairy Godmother to this precious human, I will make sure she has books and music and a third strong feminist figure in her life. Probably gonna send her a teddy bear first though.

Congrats Dunhams!

 

 


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So happy you could die

It’s a proven fact I cry when my friends come to visit and then leave town. Last night was no exception.

Mikee rocking balls

I’ve known Mikee and Jordan and Tom for about 100 years. Seriously I took the photos at Mikee’s wedding. Mikee and I were in a band together for about four minutes and he helped me write the one song I’ve ever written.

Catastrophist is their new band and they played at Cafe Coda last night. Some where in there I was 19 again, taking pictures and hanging out with the boys and just not 33 with all the responsibilities of a circus director. I remembered what it was like to be a “wild and crazy” teenager in Bakersfield (seriously one Corona and done, I was such a wild woman! OMG) and it was nice.

 

 


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The Essential Incubus

Incubus is a weird band for me. I like them but sometimes they bore me. But when I like them, I really really like them. Like adore, boarding on obsessively love them.

Back in 1999 when “Make Yourself” came out I was dating a guy who lived in Huntington Beach. I lived in Bakersfield. This brought a great many drives into my life. One night as I was headed to Huntington Beach to see him, a freeway off ramp on the 405 caught fire. Any of you who have ever lived in Los Angeles understand that a freeway off ramp on fire on the 405 is like mother effing Godzilla storming New York City. You might as well go “Falling Down,” style, leave your car on the freeway and just get a bat.

What is normally a 4 1/2 drive turned into an almost 12 hour ordeal. During that 12 hours of sitting on the freeway, being on the radio down in LA as a freeway reporter (no joke, I knew a guy) and rolling down my windows to talk to other motorists and really really wishing Domino’s would bring me a pizza to that exit on Howard Hughes Parkway, I heard “Drive” by Incubus for the first time. And the second time. And possibly the 3rd time I sat on this goddamn freeway so long. Point being I can’t ever listen to Incubus without thinking of that trip and how excited I was just to be getting off the bloody freeway that I sort of forgot the reason I was going there in the first place.

This is me at another time in 1999

 

The other day I got a copy of “The Essential Incubus” in the mail and I had resisted opening it. Frankly, when you play a band 400 times a week you sort of lose sight of what made you like them. Or what they represent to you. Incubus is a band that I “discovered,” when I was in college and wanted to play so badly on the radio station I was working at. Eventually we did. Eventually I saw them about 8 times.  Eventually they became one of the only main stream bands to speak out against George W Bush and all of the “everything is a terrorist” back in 2001. Eventually they would in some way be linked to every person I loved between 99 and 2010.  They were omnipresent in my life, for better or worse, there was Brandon Boyd and his good smelling self and Koi tattoo all up in my life’s soundtrack hanging out.

I opened the cd today. I listened to it at work. And it really does still make me miss some people in my life that I don’t see anymore. That I love/loved. Not even in a romantic way. But I hear certain songs and I think of kicking a fax machine on a really important day. Or a funny faux Australian accent. Or watching Incubus live in Bakersfield with some friend’s coat around my shoulders. Or the countless drives to Los Angeles I made in my 20’s. I think of my biggest love of my life, Southern California and I wonder how things are going and why it’s easier to tell any and everyone that I love them here than in person.

In other words if you like Incubus, you should get this damn CD.

It’s on sale now, 2 disc set. I wasn’t paid to write this

 


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NaBloPoMo

So it’s the time of the year again.  It’s National Blog Posting Month.

Oh here we go

 

Basically if I do this I’m supposed to blog EVERY DAY in November. Crazy right? I mean who wants to read my thoughts that often? Isn’t this what twitter is for? Where are my handlers? You know the last time I did this I was woefully unemployed and still couldn’t do the entire month without missing a day or two and I was a SERIOUS blogger back then. As of right now I just sort of suck to be honest. I hardly ever get on here any more.

But I’m gonna try. Because as of right now I have the creativity of a stump and it’s depressing. I used to be doing 40 things at once that were creative or interesting and now basically I work and sleep. So I’m gonna try. Hopefully I entertain someone other than myself but at the end of the day, who cares? If I can prove to myself I can be committed to a project for 30 days that is JUST FOR ME then I will be happy. I don’t do anything for myself anymore and it really is about time that I do. So wish me luck…