Ever since last Friday, there's been a lot of surrender. I saw an amazing new apartment out in the East Bay on Sunday fulfilling all of my Bay Area apartment hunting fantasies (this would be my 14th home I've lived since '97!). Thanks to my current landlord/ friend/ roomie (and longest place I had lived since I was in college, almost 3 yrs here!), I had the beautiful luxury to take my time and get it right. Thanks to another friend in the East Bay that I hadn't seen in FOREVER and by chance saw on Saturday, who then hooked me up with his friends by Sunday that had a downstairs apartment that was almost ready and hadn't even hit CL, here I am by Thursday negotiated on terms I might not have been able to negotiate with someone I didn't know and ready to sign a lease on Sunday. Amazing.
I am excited and had been intent on my own place for the past few months. Worried I was trying to pull a "geographic" (really, I'm moving across the Bay, I thought that would be reasonable), I spent time really delving into what made my current living situation challenging. As much as I love my roomies and have one of the sweetest set-ups in 12 yrs of renting, it was time to go explore this new sense of self. I needed my own space to do that. I also had never thought I needed to live in a sober environment but realized this is another luxury that I could afford. If I was going to be out in the world, constantly figuring out every minute how to deal with the trials and tribulations of sobriety and how to deal with people now that I don't drink and how to spend time with my friends that still do and blah blah blah, I might as well make home my safe haven. I've never really had that before. I haven't had my own place since '99 when I was renting out of a studio in Redwood City for 6 months while getting ready to transfer to a Big-Girl school from community college. I live pretty simply and not too settled in so I'm looking forward to making a home that I can open to others and eventually get cozy with my man-friend;) He's a much better decorator than I am, anyways. And he fixes things and that's hot.
Monday was my usual chaos festivity that is my coffeemaking commitment, me and the homeless guys. Once again I got to sit in back with this new sweet baby that just got borned and her mama, a new good friend and one really smelly guy. I didn't share, I listened and was distracted. Checking email on my phone, texting.... The speaker was a friend's husband and he had just celebrated his two years. It was right up my alley as I am coming down the home stretch of this year approaching my own 2 yr anniversary in January (don't worry, there will be ice skating this time!) Til then, one day at a time. He made a list of all the things he had gone through in the last two years sober: weddings, deaths, bachelor parties, celebrations and hard times. It was an awesome and creative way to share. And so positive. People who are positive, really at any time, but especially during challenging times, I have so much respect for. I really know how far I have to dig to find that and I am so grateful for the people that have it readily accessible when the going gets rough. One of my managers at work is like this. At the most random times, she will throw in these kernels of positivity and because of the program I think, I catch it now and honor it. It's not the fake, Pollyanna, sarcastic stuff that I like to throw around that always makes me smile. It's the real deal and genuine. You can feel it. And it lightens and sheds new light on whatever you are speaking of no matter how hard.
Tuesday was the PIG FARM!!! I was up before the crack of dawn at 4AM. At the warehouse by 5AM and off to Morgan Hill. I had been wanting to go to the Pig Farm for some time. It started as a joke between the warehouse manager and I but then I was like, hell yeah, I'm going to the Pig Farm. I'm into exploring the boundaries of my newfound sober mornings and oodles of time I have in a day because for the most part, I feel pretty good (anything is better than the hangover and overall sluggish feeling I had when I drank). But I think this was pushing it as I am now home sick with some weird lung thing and really frickin tired and feeling sick.
We bring our spoiled produce down to a Pig Farm in Morgan Hill twice a week. About 10,000 pounds of stone fruit, cabbage, carrots, celery etc. We have this great guy, Archie, that has about 40 pigs. I went down and met Archie and Archie Jr, his son, and got the grand tour of this place while the sun came up over the Central Valley. These are the kinds of things that make me keep going to work everyday. I'm pretty lucky I can go to a Pig Farm and count it as work, go home for a few hours to sleep and then work the rest of the day. This is one thing I realized.
These were very happy hogs. I met Oink, who is their pet boar. Oink is maybe pushing 400 lbs tusks and all. There was a little pot-bellied pig that just wandered into their property who wagged his tail like a dog and was a little rounder than my cat but about the same size. So cute! Then there were the Bacon Hogs and the hogs that had been "put out" because they didn't get along with the other hogs. There was Grunt, the male breeding hog and guess how you can tell that a hog will be good for breeding? Shorter legs in front than in back. Ask me about hogs, ladies and gentleman and I'll learn you a thing or two! One hog had gotten too fat and couldn't be sold til he lost some weight. Penny was the Alpha hog who I don't think liked me too much and yes, probably would have taken the first bit had I fallen in. But these pigs were very happy and very loved (and not that smelly!). I learned how he keeps the smell down and the effects of different types of produce on the moisture in the pits and bellies of the pigs. He had many makeshift pens with all different size pigs. The little ones were adorable and love to be petted and have their ears scratched. It made me happy that even though these pigs were going off to market they got a good run at Archie's Pig Farm. And Archie had a lot of love for them.
Archie's farm looked like something straight up out of a horror movie however. Seriously, with the sun coming up over the hills. It was an old flower farm with makeshift plywood roofing, strewn with scrap metal, old farm equipment and overgrown. I think he said it was about 14 acres. It was pretty awesome though. I do love me some horror movies. And it was great to get to know another aspect of the work that I do at the food bank. Anyone who knows me, knows I love to meet new people and hear their stories (well, and share my own). This was such a treat. It was great to get to know the driver that I drove down there with as well. We had lots of stories to share and he's a talker like me and has been at the food bank for about the same amount of time. I couldn't believe he had 4 kids in college and graduate school. I had no idea. It was a good morning to start. But as we were heading back, sitting in crazy awful Peninsula traffic, I started to fade and get a tickle in my throat and not feel that well. I thought I was just up too early or maybe allergies.
I hit a wonderful woman's meeting I had not gone to before. It was pretty large, had a fountain outside, in the basement of a church and I saw a few familiar faces which was nice. The speaker was a former mechanic for Muni who had gotten hit by a car in the 90s while working up in Hunter's Point. During the crack epidemic in the 80s and 90s, dealers were firing at government workers on site up in Hunter's Point. It took an ambulance 40 minutes to come to her aid. She died 6 times. Amazing story. And man, could this woman laugh and just oozed with love for her work as a mechanic that she could no longer do. I spend a lot of time in Hunter's Point. I'm the agency rep for all of our member agencies that distribute food in Bayview/ Hunter's Point. I have some strong relationships out there and even some that have become friends. And I know the history of Hunter's Point in the 90s and the violence in those neighborhoods today are from beef that have been passed from generation to generation and at times forgotten but still taking lives. Many of my colleagues in Bayview/ Hunter's Point face death on the regular whether it's from turf or from illness (there is extraordinarily high rates of asthma and cancer in Hunter's Point). My job seems so easy compared with what they face everyday and still get up every morning to help their community. The faith is strong in Bayview. And while this is something I'm supposed to separate: getting food out to the community and fulfilling God's will. For many of the agencies that I work with, it is God's will that they distribute food every week to those who need it most. And on Wednesday, this was the first time I fully acknowledged this to my agencies.
On Wednesday, I went to a meeting early on and then I had a neighborhood meeting for work with all my food pantries (def: weekly farmer's market style free grocery and produce distributions; there are 200 throughout the city every week) in one room for the first time ever. Able to share and map out what these regular meetings will look like and meet one another. Typically, these events pull about 75% of the RSVP list so I figured about 7 people would show up as I had gotten 11 yeses, 3 maybes and had left 6 messages and gotten no response. This is how it goes. I'm used to it. But Wednesday morning, 20 people showed up by 10:20 (there were only 4 there by 10:10 ;)) This was amazing. I felt so good inside. I wanted to meet with them all day! These are all my favorite people that I work with in one room. We went around the room for an icebreaker and I asked them what gets them out of bed every morning. I think I knew what the answer would be and I think I just wanted to hear it. For many of them, it was God and Jesus Christ. And He filled the room in that moment. It was so moving. There were also many husbands, wives, children and moms that also got them out of bed in the morning. It was so inspiring and perhaps greedy of me cuz I knew what they all would say but a fantastic way to start the day. This is another part of my job I love: building relationships, making connections and facilitating solutions. I am trying to pass the lead position off to someone else in the group but they decided they prefer me to do it until they get to know one another. I'm surprised that many of my co-workers were able to appoint a lead in the first meeting. That was extraordinarily invigorating and I can truly say I have so much love for all those that were in that room.
Now it is Thursday. Wow what a few days. Is this my Higher Power at work these last few days? I'd like to think so. The Source/ Spirit/ Higher Power/ God can be so strong in my life sometimes. The success and beauty of it are fear-inspiring. It's not even Friday and the range of love and bliss that I have felt in these last few days is something to take notice of and to be grateful for. There are good things to come, my friends.
I was late to my meeting this morning as I was trying to do too much and I didn't feel that well. But yet again, I am so glad I made it and it was right where I was supposed to be.