Forgiving is so important for your own health and for the health of the world, I do believe.
You do not need to forget to forgive. Let it go and remember that none of us are perfect. How can we expect anyone to be perfect when we ourselves are so far from perfection? I am not saying forgiveness is easy. But it is a challenge we must face. I know for myself there are still a few people I have a very hard time to find forgiveness for. But I have started to find a way to forgive myself for allowing myself for getting into unhealthy relationships in the first place.
Somethings are easy to forgive, like your friend not paying you back that $5 bucks they promised to pay back or that they flaked on a fun night out. But most all of us have issues with one or both of our parents.
I think most of us somehow expect our parents to be perfect or to always know what is the right or wrong way to do things.Then we become so disappointed with them because they don’t. The truth of it is that they are also human. Here is what I have figured out at this stage of my life. I am a parent and I am a daughter.
My parents screwed up royally! I was on my own at thirteen. I was the youngest of four. It was the mid 1970’s and everyone started to look for what THEY needed, often forgetting about the children they had given life to. I became extra baggage. My parents divorced when I was ten years old. My mother decided that she needed more enlightenment and moved us to a hippie commune. My father needed to feel the warmth of wealth. Two very different directions. Nether really had room for the four children they had made together. Lucky for the two eldest that they loved the whole hippie thing and were able to embrace the commune, and I would imagine, enjoy the freedoms that it gave them. For my next older sister and I it was not the case. We struggled to find security and routine in our lives. We were not old enough to go wherever the wind blew us.We were not old enough to understand what was happening to our family and to our lives. We convinced my father to take us to live with him. He was still living in the house we grew up in so it felt safe.
The reality was he was also getting on with his new life. He had met a woman that was a bit more upper class than my family. She had the looks, the house and appeared to have the money my father was looking for,”The life style.” She also already had three daughters of her own, with no need for more. When they moved in together and later got married, they did find a way to fit my sister and I in but it was never a comfortable fit. We always knew we were the outsiders and that they would rather we were not there. Finally the day came when my father had to make a big decision to stay with his wife or to raise his children.Well they got their wish and my mother moved us 3000 miles away from them. Yep that’s right we were the extra luggage no one had room for in their lives. My mom made some sacrifices in her new life and made room for my sister and I to be in it.
By the time I was thirteen years old punk rock had hit the city of Seattle where I was living and I jumped in with both feet. I left home when my mom suggested that maybe I should go back and live with my father. I ran away. I came back after my father flew in from New Jersey only worried because he was the one with legal custody of me. After a long conversation with him where I was able to tell him very clearly how I was feeling about all of this, he suggested to me that we never see or talk with each other again. At the time I thought that was a good thing.
Within that year I left home again with my mother’s consent. A punk band from San Francisco was playing at the punk rock club where I volunteered. The band was called The Off’s. Turns out one of them had a girlfriend at home and she had a 5 year old and they were looking for a nanny. So I went to San Francisco with them. To this day I am floored that my mom let me leave with them.
Luckily it turns out they were all good guys but I was a horrible fit for the job. The Mabuhay Gardens was only a few blocks away and it was punk rock almost every night and that is what I wanted to do. I was not so good at waking up and taking the child to school. So I go fired and I moved onto the streets.
Photographer unknown. Imagines taken from the internet.
1. In front of the Mabuhey Gardens 2. Broadway st S.F 1970’s
In time I moved back in with my mom till she gave me an ultimatum that I go back to school, get a job, or move out. So I moved out. I was still thirteen years old. I did live one more time with my mother for nine months when I was seventeen . I also lived again with my father when I was thirty-four for six months.
I tell you all this so you can have some sort of idea about what I needed to forgive.
For many many years my father and I only talked once or twice a year and I was always relieved when it was over. I had not forgiven him for what he had done to me and how he had made me feel. It was when he was told he had 6 months to two years to live that I decided that I needed to re-evaluate my father and my relationship with him. He was my father, the only one I had, and I needed to make peace with his imperfections as a father. I moved to Sacramento to where he lives and worked to get to know him better. By this time I had a child of my own, and I do believe this will change anyone’s perspective about their parents. My father and I have never spent much time talking about the past and the things that went so wrong but instead we just started from where we were in life. Because I decided to set the past behind me I no longer hate my father. I forgave him. I had decided that I was now an adult and it was time for him to see me as one. I have compassion for him, I find him a funny man with great stories from his youth, I also can see some of his weekense. He is a human as I am and just because he is a parent does in no way make him perfect or all knowing. It just makes him a person who makes mistakes like the rest of us. I do forgive him but for me some of that pain is still there. (Just for the record 20 years later my dad is still alive).
Now my mom, That’s another story. She really knows she also screwed up. No doubt about it. We have spent many, many hours, if not days, talking about the past. But she has for decades now tried to make up for it. We always stayed close. I believe she has made up for her mistakes many times over. My mother has done, and still is doing everything she can to help me get through life. As her name says she really is a beam of sunshine. I have forgiven my mother fully. And yes the pain and bewilderment is still there but there is no black hole inside me where the love for my parents should be. Just love lives there.
Back to forgiveness. Let’s not judge people too hard. And especially the people you love. Are you perfect? Because I know I am not. Truly you never know how imperfect you are until you become a parent. Remember when we are born there is no manual and there is no licensing to have a child. Most of us are a surprise or as my mom always said ”a gift from god”. Parents are usually looking at their own upbringing to find guidance on how to raise or sometimes how not to raise children and so if your own parents did not get it right, neither will you. So do you blame your parents because you know your children will blame you? Maybe you should blame your grandparents? There are more of them so you can shuffle that blame around better or maybe you should blame your great grandparents? And please don’t bother looking at what the social norms were for the time because we expect everyone from all generations to have the same social norms and expectations as we see now.
Parents never get all of it right. I believe most parents try to do the best they can with the skills and abilities they have. There are so many things a parent can be. But parents can’t be all of them. If you are super lucky you will have two super parents and they will balance it all out and you will get everything you need. But most likely you wont. And definitely not form one person. This does create an issue for those of us who are single parents. This is a place that forgiveness really needs to kick in. Trying to help our children forgive the absent parent, forgiving yourself for picking the wrong partner, for not having enough time, not making enough money, for not being able to do all the little and not so little things to make your children’s life blissful. As a parent there are so many things we need to try and find a way to forgive ourselves for. We also need to forgive that absent parent.
Remember that only you can change the things you are unhappy with in your life. It always starts with you.When you stop blaming others for your unhappiness you give yourself back the power and control over your own life. Our struggles in life make us stronger. I know I have struggled more than some and a lot less than others. But these things make me who I am today and I like who I am. Because of that, it does make forgiving a little easier.
We all have people we need to find forgiveness for and so many of those people deserve your forgiveness, and maybe some of them do not. But you do. Forgiving is a healthy thing for you. Remember the opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference and the first way to letting go of hate is forgiveness. When you lighten your hate load you increase room in your life for love.
Now that I am an expat, it is time to reinvent myself. I came to The Netherlands with the notion that I would open a barber shop like the barber shop I opened in Sacramento in 2001. I had money in my pocket and a vision. I had picked the city of Delft. Pretty little city squeezed between The Hague and Rotterdam. I found a great spot and it was rented to me. I was well on my way, Right? No! Everything got turned upside down and within a short time I realized that what I thought I had agreed to and what was reality where two very different things.
The short of it is I ended up living in Haarlem with my Knight in Shining Armor, not opening my barber shop and losing a lot of money and time. Sadly I also lost confidence.
Now if you have known me for a while then you know I was a real go getter. Within 16 years I had started two successful business from scratch. I made a good living off both and sold them both for a good profit. I call that success. But here I am with my hands in my pockets kicking the pebbles on the ground in front of me really not knowing what or how to do the next thing.
I tried working in a barber shop too far from my new home in Haarlem but it was worth a try. When I had to quickly go back to Sacramento to deal with an emergency related to the house I still own in Sacramento, I was told I did not have enough passion for barbering. I was told this from a 26 year old who I think was not yet born when I was learning to cut hair and was probably still eating his boogers when I was opening my barber shop. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate him letting me pay him to sit in his barber shop. (I was renting a chair.) First, it is hard to be passionate when you have almost no business and it costs you 60 euros a day just to go to work. Again, another mistake “misunderstanding in business ” I was told he had over-flowing customers and he did not.
In my few interactions doing business over here I find there is a lot of misunderstandings. I am told one thing and then I always get screwed. It seems it is only about contracts and what they say verbally means absolutely nothing.
But maybe he was right. I have been cutting hair for well over 20 years and it is not as exciting as it was in the first few. Like most things in life. However, I do still enjoy cutting hair and though I may not want to do zero fades all day long, I am good at what I do. However, I do realize I do not want to work in someone else’s barber shop.
So what do I do? Do I take the last of my money and open a barber shop? I am now a bit timid about renting after the last experience. So I have worked on other ideas: mobile barber, repping for Cock Grease AKA Hair Underworld, making Mexican-style tiled tables, selling stuff from Oaxaca, making and vending tacos, catering and now, hot sauce . Do I sound ADD? I am starting to feel like it. In some form I have now tried all of these things since moving over here. I have worked in a barber shop and I was a mobile barber one night and I had one customer. Not the confidence-builder I was looking for. I have one Cock Grease account but I wait for the manufacturer to complete a few things before I can go further with it. I made one Mexican tile table with some tiles that were laying around the house. I really enjoyed it but I have not been able to find a place that sells single tiles. I did vend my Mexican goods one time and I sold three things. Not a big money maker. I made and vended tacos one night and broke even. That was good. Now I have completed my first catering gig. I think it went very well. It was some hard work but I can see making something out of it. Then there is HOT Sauce, my latest idea. I have made a few batches of hot sauce so far and I think they are Yummy so that means I need to make them a lot hotter seeing as I think people here like HOT.
Perfecting the secret recipe, stage one. I find this idea exciting because in so many ways I have done this before. When I was creating Cock Grease I had no idea what I was doing but after growing a brand, manufacturing and distributing my pomade for eleven years I learned a few things. I imagine I can avoid a lot of wasted time and obstacles I didn’t know existed before.
So here I am still with my hands in my pockets feeling really unsure how to make things happen in the new land I now live in. Maybe in the end it is not really about reinventing myself. Maybe it is just about continuing to be an entrepreneur.
I thinking it is called following your dreams. Or at least in my case it is.
When I was a little girl my father took a one year sabbatical from his teaching job at Half Moon Bay High School. Me and my three siblings were moved 6000 miles away to Vienna Austria. I don’t remember being very happy about it. But when you are 5 years old you don’t really know what is going on or that your parents are doing something amazing that will stay with you for the rest of your life.
Living in Vienna was a whole new world. A world that was in a big city. Half Moon Bay / El Granada were we lived was a small beach community 25 miles south of San Francisco. Now we where smack dab in the middle of a big city, apartment living with public transportation, paved streets, shops and parks. Also a foreign language, different customs, people who looked and dressed differently, new foods and smells .
We traveled a lot during that year. My parents had bought a VW bus that was pretty beat up but it got us around Europe on school holidays. I wish I had been older so I could have understood where we were and therefore have stronger memories.
Coming back to California and starting the first grade I was different than the other kids. I had seen things smelt things and tasted things I could not explain.
For a good portion of my life when I smelled things such as cured meats being made or taste some unique cheese, or the one memory that really sticks with me the flavor of some raspberry soda I have only tasted a few time since. All sorts of smells and flavors take me back to living and traveling in Europe as a kid. These things stuck with me. Also the travel bug bit me and never let go.
In my mid twenties I distinctly remember thinking I did not want to travel back to Europe. That I wanted to travel around the United States. But as America became more and more one big housing tract with too many nondescript shopping malls and not enough Main Streets left I started thinking more about Europe.
In my late thirties I decided that somehow I wanted to give my son the European experience. I did not know how I would do this but the first thing I needed was passports. I had fantasized about taking him for 3 month but I knew I would never have that kind of money or time. Also I had no idea where to go what to do. I knew no one in Europe and I only spoke English. The thought was scary. But as I find in life if there is a will there’s a way. If it is meant to be it will happen. I got us passports and three months later I was given the opportunity I could not pass up.
I was that person who would let bands crash at their house. Back then I had a lot of bands staying at my house. One band was Arsen Roulette and the Ricochets. One of the guys in the band had suggested I go on tour with them through Europe as their merch girl and I could sell my hair pomade along the way. I got very excited at this idea, seeing as it would be a great way to get my hair pomade “Cock Grease” over to Europe, to meet people and get the lay of the land. Then I would have a better foundation for taking my son over. Well not all guys in bands want a woman on tour with them. So that idea got shot down but on the heels of finding that out Three Bad Jacks were staying at my house and Elvis suggested that I go with them on a three week tour to Europe as their merch girl.
Above: Three Bad Jacks, on stage – In my son’s bedroom
This was great! I had two weeks to get my life in order to leave. I would be gone a total of 4 ½ weeks. From Europe I would fly into LAX and drive straight to Viva Las Vegas (the worlds largest rockabilly event) It was a long time to be away from home, my son and my barber shop. But there was no way I was going to pass up this opportunity.
I met up with the band in L.A. and we got on a plane and flew into Frankfurt Germany. Wow, as soon as we got off the plane the old familiar smells from childhood hit me. Yes, I was in Europe. Everything was different and exciting. I was amazed when a few words of German came back to me. We found our van and hit the road. It was non stop from that point on till laundry day in Helsinki Finland. We traveled through Germany and met The Booze Bombs who treated us great. Wonderful people who I am now proud to call my friends. We traveled to France, yes Paris, and to England, Scotland, Norway and Finland. In Finland we had a day off. Time to relax just a little. Then back to Germany. We still had a few more shows in Germany and in Belgium but I had come down with a cold and was quite worn out.
Above: on tour with 3BJ. 1 in Helsinki Finland, 2. Tired band guys, 3. Tristan out side at Flaming Star Speyer Germany, 4.Elvis takes a nap Germany, 5.The band setting up in Paris France, 6. 3BJ playing somewhere in England, 7.At Stephan’s “The Booze Bombs” house Calw Germany, 8.3BJ playing in Paris France, 9. Boys in the band, Tristan and Nick in Nancy France
I had made a new friend in Paris, I asked him if I could come back and spend a few days there till it was time to fly back. He agreed. So in Cologne Germany I left the tour. I took the train (high speed train) to Paris. It felt amazing to me that I was doing this. Yep, my new friend picked me up at the central train station, “Paris Nord,” and I spent four amazing days: drinking wine, smoked cigarettes and eating baguettes with amazing cheese I went to the Eiffel Tower and to some French biker bar. Again the smells. I was in heaven. I fell in love with Paris, what I would say is the epitome of European life. (according to a Californian).
Then back to the states. It was culture shock all over again. To Las Vegas, Ugggg, What a contrast. I was still on cloud 9 from my time in Europe. It was like I had been to the promised land. I did not want to forget a single view, taste or smell. Going home was bitter sweet.
Above:1 & 2 Paris, 3. My french friend Rock-in out on the up right, 4 The Cat club in Paris where 3BJ played
After being back for a short time one of my new friends from The Booze Bombs invited me to join them in Spain for a fun weekender called The High Rockabilly. This gave me around four months to get it together to go back. I was not going to pass up another great opportunity to meet people and have fun in Europe. So come September I was back in Germany and then Spain. This time I was only there 1 1/2 weeks but it was great. I meet all sorts of people and had the best of times with my German friends. I left that trip knowing I wanted MORE OF THAT!
Above: 1.The Booze Bombs, 2. Annie with The Neanderthals, 3.Me and The Cock Grease Girls, 4. My gang at the High Rockabilly, 5. Me and Willy, 6. Making a toast to my wonderful friends in Germany, 7. My collection of yummys to take home
After a short time I made the mistake of marrying a Swedish man who I had met in Las Vegas. I must have been wooed by the fact he was from Europe. The facts are I did not know this man and after five years with him I still did not know him and no longer wanted to know him. Enough about him. I only bring him up because I started traveling to Europe more and mostly to Sweden.
On my trip to Spain with The Booze Bombs I was invited to come back and cut hair at The Rockabilly Bombardment in Vorarlberg Austria. A fun weekend hosted by The Bombardiers Car Club in September of 2009. Now married I brought my husband and my son to Europe. I wanted my son to see it so we did a whirlwind trip. First to Calw, nestled in the black forest region in Germany to see my friends The Booze Bombs. Then to Austria to cut hair then a amazing one night in Liechtenstein. Drove through Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, The Netherlands and then to Hamburg Germany for a few days. Two quick weeks. Not really the trip I had dreamed of to show my son Europe but it was a start.
Above: 1 & 2 In Lichtenstein, One of the best meals I ever ate and My Son our host and me, 3. a castle in Luxembourg
After that trip we mostly went to Sweden in the summer time. That was also great, but Scandinavia is not the same as the central Europe and my husband was not really interested in showing us the sights. For him it was just going home to visit. For me the high point was having the opportunity to cut hair in Stockholm at the very hip and cool shop called Sivletto. I did this most every time I went to Sweden. In 2012 I was invited to go back in February 2013 to cut hair on a one night Hot Rod, Raggar cruise called Wheels Nationals Winter, a cruise on the Baltic Sea. I had never experienced anything like it. First the ship was full of Raggares something I believe it truly Swedish. (Look them up. It is a subculture.) The large chunks of ice all around the ship and banging into the hull. This kinda freaked me out. But I guess that is just normal? Needless to say it was very cold in Sweden.
Above: the barber shop inside Sivlettos. Pictures taken from the internet
Above: A few pictures I took in Sweden
On that trip in 2013 I also wanted to get back down into central Europe. We went to Spain. Now I like Spain a lot but where we ended up was truly a waste. We went to a town called Playa Flamenca on the GOLD COAST. This is where northern Europeans go and buy condos so they have a warm place to go on holiday. All I saw were condos, English pubs and Chinese restaurants. Not what I go to Spain for. On that trip however I did get the opportunity finally to do some tourist stuff. We took the long driver to Granada to go to The Alhambra. Something I strongly recommend doing if you have the chance.
I did make it back in 2014, again with my son now 17 and me no longer married I was able to travel with one of my long time and good friends. On this trip we wanted to DRINK BEER. My plan was to show my son what good beer was all about. We had planned to just go to Belgium at first. But it turned into Sweden, Spain, Belgium, and a tiny bit of Germany. This was now the 4th time I brought son to Europe. Turns out he was really not interested in tasting beers and stood his ground saying to me “Mom you can’t make me drink!” So my good friend and I enjoyed the yummy beers that Europe has to offer.
After that trip I thought, “ Well maybe I should start traveling in a different direction or spend my travel money on my back yard.” I started planning a trip to Polynesia. Then I started to make my yard my own travel destination. I wanted a yard that felt like I was on vacation when I went into it. So I did that . I never have made it to Polynesia.
Instead I went to Europe again this time with my good friend Sasha who I had done the Mangiamo Dinners with. But this time was very different for a few reasons. On the last many trips I was either married and or had my son with me and I was also always in Europe representing my pomade line, Cock Grease. This trip I had none of those responsibilities and I went knowing that I was planning to move to The Netherlands in the not too far off future. That trip must have been the most fun I have ever had traveling.
Yes, I had decided that I no longer wanted to live in The United States of America. I had grown totally disgusted with how the medical system works. Not just the health insurance but the treatment as well. I had also become horrified at what is allowed to happen to the food that we eat. It’s a long story and I would have to find my soapbox to stand on to tell you all about it. So I will hold off on that for now. But needless to say I was not happy with things I could see going on in the USA. I had found out that one can move to The Netherlands on a visa called the DAFT. So I learned about it and once the 2016 presidential elections were over and I could clearly see thing where only going to get a whole lot worse than they already were. I decided to leave as soon as I could. I sold off my company “Cock Grease” had a few big yard sales, packed up my belongings and got the hell out of there. I did it in less than a year.
Above: My farewell party. Great music all night long. Some just past out at the end.
I was so busy saying goodbye, packing and organizing my things I had no time to really think about what the hell I was doing. It was my first day after landing in Amsterdam that I started to freak out. “WHAT DID I JUST DO??”
I sometimes have this view of myself that I can handle anything and then I often find myself in the middle of something I can not handle. Well this really felt like one of those times.
I first stayed in Amsterdam with a friend, a woman I had meet in many place as I traveled around always with the rockabilly scene as my backdrop. She is a rockabilly and a true traveler. She had offered to let me stay with her when I first arrived. She was off to Spain or Portugal for some cool festival the very next morning so I was alone in a new country in a city I had only ever spent a few hours in. This was so very different than going on vacation. I cried a lot and sleeping a lot. I was afraid to leave the house. I was so freaked out at what I had just done. But within a few days I was off to see my dear friend in Paris. I knew that would make everything seem a bit better and it did as long as I was in Paris. There it’s just about having fun. Back in The Netherlands I needed to find a place to live and a place to put myself while looking. I had planned to move to Eindhoven a city in the south west of the country. I had chosen Eindhoven for some really good reasons:music and cars. Yep If I was going to open up a barber shop I thought Eindhoven would be the perfect place and it probably would have been if I had ever gone down there.
Once I realized this was a lot harder then I had hoped I decide that I should stay with in visiting distance of the only 3 people I knew in all of The Netherlands. The first of course was my friend in Amsterdam and the other two were a couple I barely knew from Sacramento. They had just moved over four months before me. They were living just outside of Leiden in South Holland, a beautiful city that was once a walled. I decided I would live there. It was close to Amsterdam 25 minutes by train. Not bad. I found a great little house to sublet for 5 ½ month. It was a great place to plan my new life. I got to do some traveling. I got to also spend more time with myself than I ever had before. Wow, thank god for Spotify, the liquor store one block away, and Facebook. I cannot imagine making a move like this without the internet.
I was looking for a place to open a barber shop. I found what I thought would be a great spot where I was told I could live upstairs in a really cool old city called Delft nudged between The Hague and Rotterdam. I was entering into something I really did not understand. I had rented commercial space before “in Sacramento” I still believe most people are honest and good. Well nothing went as planned and I lost a ton of money. I was screwed and screwed over by everyone involved.
Above: The place in Delft, once rented the owners did this. Hard to open a new business when no one can see it.
During that same time I had met a man I was sure we would become good friends. Turns out he was to become my best friend. I had gone to a show with my friend from Amsterdam but I lost her early in the night. I spent the whole night looking for her all the while meeting new people. One of the people I met was Leo. He was wearing a Dead Boys t-shirt, a band I really loved from the 1970’s. I had seen him earlier in the night and commented on his shirt. After spending some time drinking with some guy that got too touchy for me I laid eyes on the guy with the Dead Boys shirt and his friend. I went over and struck up a convention with them. By this time it must have been 4 am and I still could not find my friend. Turns out she had left.
These guys were pretty cool and pretty drunk. We soon we’re getting asked to leave the building. Turns out we all needed to get to the train station and we all needed to get on the same train. They both got off in Haarlem I rode the rest of the way to Leiden by myself. I was so happy and excited that I had met some guys I could be friends with. That is also the morning I learned there is no bus running at 8 am on Sunday morning in Leiden. That was a long, cold walk home.
We all connected on Facebook and I was soon invited to join Leo at a punk show in Leiden. Not really to my taste I suggested that we meet up for a beer before he went to his show and that is what we did. A week went by and a trip to Barcelona and I contacted him and asked if he would like to have a beer with me again. We agreed to meet up in Haarlem on that Saturday late afternoon. I was thrilled to go hang out with a new friend. During the evening it crossed my mind I may be on a date but he was a perfect gentleman. At the end of the night he walked me to the train station and we agreed to meet up again the next Saturday. He gave me a quick kiss goodnight. Now In the Netherlands it is the custom to give three kisses. First one check then the other and then back to the first. It’s a lot of kissing, mostly when its a group of people. I sometimes get confused. So this was not that . It was a quick kiss on my lips and he was gone. I walked up the stairs to the train platform thinking “ Ya, I think I was on a date and I think he likes me.” I was not expecting that. I had to think about it, but I had a few days. Don’t get me wrong I thought this guy was very cool and a down to earth. I was just not sure that that was what I was looking for. By Friday I had decided that I was indeed interested in him. I invited him to come to Leiden for coffee that Friday afternoon. We never did drink coffee that day just a lot of beer. We stayed together the whole weekend. That was it! We were calling each other girlfriend and boyfriend with in a few weeks. The word love came out of my mouth after spending a weekend in Berlin without him. Just two months after meeting him I was moving in with him. This was all just as my barber shop plans where falling apart. Talk about “knight in shining armor.” Well that is Leo!
The whole barber shop fiasco was very stressful and expensive. It turned out to suck up about six months of my life from beginning to end. During that six months I really could not get my footing in The Netherlands because I was never really sure what was going to happen next. But Leo had me covered. I had moved to the beautiful city of Haarlem.
Above, the beautiful city of Haarlem
The facts are that this is hard. But as the old saying goes “Nothing worth having comes easy” And I am afraid that is true. I can also tell you this “when the rewards of doing something so hard come through it is one of the most amazing feelings.” That has just happened for me. With a lot of help from my guy Leo I now have five years residency in The Netherlands. After the 5 years I can then apply for permanent residency.
I can not predict what the next five years will bring me. There are still some hard choices to make ahead of me. But if it is meant to be it will work.
Follow your dreams. Dream big and make goals and DON”T let others tell you you cannot achieve them.
If you know me you know I LOVE to cook! Most of all I love to cook for other people.
It all started I think when I was around 3 years old. Honestly I don’t have a clear memory of it just bits and pieces, I would make my own scrambled eggs in a tiny cast iron pan. I called them “Jambled eggs” it was just the beginning.
At 3 years old I started to cook – Cup cakes at Butterscotch’s birthday
I do have fond memories of cooking in the kitchen with my mom making custard and watching her make fresh bread. Fresh bread was a normal thing in my home as a kid. I remember being embraced taking my lunches to school on homemade bread. Now something that I would be proud of. But back then I did not understand that fresh bread is a great thing and what was strange about my sandwich was maybe not the olive loaf lunch meat but the chopped olive or liverworst sandwiches that I loved. Surprise surprise no one ever asked to trade sandwiches with me.
I can remember making triple decker sandwich with anything we had. Not always good. But I tried. I was always eager to help make jello or instant pudding that was so popular in my house. I have fond memories of making apple fritters and best of all the time my sister and I tried to make lollipops out of the Peanuts cook book. What a mess.
I do remember when my love of cooking did help me during my punk rock days. I was a very poor punk kid. I was living in a great big house in Vancouver Canada called The Plaza It was kind of the DOA band house with the Randy Rampage, Chuck Biscuits, Joey Shithead and their then manager Ken and many more of us living in this big house. All I could afford from my panhandling to eat was one decent size potato a day. I would “barrow” ketchup out of the refrigerator to gussy them up. Ken took pity on me and would let me cook for him. He would buy the groceries and I would cook and I would get to eat a real meal. I was very grateful to Ken. He was a good friend.
Finally living in San Francisco and in my early 20’s I got back to cooking. I was not a good cook but I loved doing it. I would cook for anyone that would sit at my table. I bought a typewriter at Montgomery Wards and started to write a cook book called The Eager Eater. Never to be finished. I would dream of opening restaurants but never worked in one. I grew a vegetable gardens so I could have fresh veggies to cook. I kept cooking, always learning more trying new things and not afraid to change recipes. It took a lot of years and a lot of dinner party.
I feel a really turning point in my cooking was Monday Night Dinners. A dinner party that started at my home in Sacramento it was early 2006. Mondays where my Sundays and I would invite friends over for dinner. This quickly became a weekly event and soon everyone was taking turns cooking dinners at my house on Mondays. After a year we started rotating houses. (This event still is going on to this day but has recently turned to once a month.) This was like the big Sunday family dinner you may have had with your own family or seen in a movies. For the children in this group it was like seeing all your aunts and uncles whether you liked them or not every Monday. I always felt this was a good thing for the children of the group. They were mostly only children and some with only one parent and small families. So this gave them, me and I would guess all of us a real scene of family.
Monday Night Dinner for me was a chance to cook a great big meal with the task of getting everything done at the same time. I would try out new recipes, work with other peoples food allergies and yes vegetarian diets. I also often tried to not spend more than $50 when cooking for 8-15 people. I loved the challenge and I love the smiles and the sound they would make when the food was good. I also loved all the laughing, all the wine and even the tears that come along with this big family.
After cooking a lot of big Monday Night Dinners as well as many other dinner parties my good friend Sasha and I set out to do larger, sit down, pop up dinner parties. We called them Mangiamo Dinner Party’s
Sasha and I wanted to take a trip to Europe but neither one of us had extra money. We decided to feed people. Sasha was in charge of setting up the ambiance and serving the guests. I was in charge of the menus, shopping, cooking and plating the food. I was in heaven. It was hard work but I really loved it. We had a lot of help from a few friends and my son.
We did these in my backyard, when fall and winter came we did them in Sasha’s living room. It was really amazing the transformation that would happen. The space she would create was really special, the music always went with the food as well as the decor. We would always serve appetizers and one adult beverage at the beginning of the meal. Guests where encouraged to bring their own beer and wine that Sasha would then politely pour out for them. There was never less then 4 and as many as 6 courses always ending with a home made desert, coffee and a home made liqueur. One time we had a special beer Sasha and a brewer from a local brewery had made just for one of our Dinner parties.
I have to say we really had it going on. Working with Sasha was really a joy. Having someone at my side I knew would do their part and do it well left me to only worry about what I needed to do.
It was a time of a lot of creativity, learning and hard work. One of the best parts was when we were all finished and the guests had all left, I would cook us all up something special with the food of the night and we would all sit down and talk about all the goings-on of the night, relax and drink some good red wine. That was always the best part of the night.
Not only was the cooking and the relaxing afterwords and of course the trip to Europe that we did go on, but watching the creation of a new community. Not everyone that came to the dinner were close friends of ours that were taking pity on us. But many were acquaintance or friends of acquaintance. In other words strangers. We got to see them build friendships through the dinner party. It felt good to contribute to bettering society even if just a little.
We had a total of 9 Mangiamo parties. Here are just a few pictures of the food made for these parties.
Since the great days of Mangiamo Dinner Party’s I have not had many opportunity cooking for large groups of people. Not long after those parties I move to The Netherlands. I have had the pleasure of a few small dinner parties no more then 10 people and the start of Rea Tortillas Taqueria.
What is Rea Tortillas Taqueria? Well I am not totally sure yet. I am trying to find my way in this new country. It looks like that may mean reinventing myself. It’s look like tacos may be the way. I was given a opportunity at a rockabilly club in Amsterdam called the Cruise Inn to make taco for their Mexican night. With the help of my new friend Masa Mama I went to Amsterdam and made tacos. I was so exciting to bring fresh corn tortillas and carnitas to the Dutch. Many do not know tacos like this. For the Dutch tacos are what we in California may affectionately call White Trash Tacos. From that I have been given another opportunity to cater a birthday party with my tacos and some Caribbean style food.
I will see where this Rea Tortilla adventure takes me.
Today I am making hot sauce for the first time. Some may think that that is pretty funny seeing as I am a total wimp when it comes to spicy food. But the truth is I really do like the flavor that peppers give the food. I am a big fan of Tapatio. A Mexican hot sauce made in California.
When I was last in California I made sure to go to may local “Mercado” Mexican market in my neighborhood and buy some dried chilies. Yes I can buy hot sauce here in The Netherlands but they normally are A, too hot for me or B, too vinegary. More like a Louisiana hot sauce. That is fine if I am eating Cajun or creole food but for Mexican I like it less vinegary, smokey and maybe a little sweet. So today is the day I have been waiting for. My first attempt.
2 Ancho peppers
1 Pasilla peppers
4 Japones peppers
2 cloves garlic
3 cups water
1/3 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon brown sugar
Put the garlic and peppers into 3 cups water, bring to boil and then let simmer for 20 min. Let cool. Add peppers, garlic and one cup of the pepper water into the food possessor with vinegar and spices. Do not through out remaining pepper water. Blend till smooth. Strain out all the seeds and skins then add more of the pepper water if you need to thin it out a bit. Return to the stove and let simmer for around 5 min. This is to thicken it up just a bit. Let it cool, put is sterilized jar and it can stay in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
Easy peasy. I am thinking this is like making mustard. Once you get the basics down it can be anything you want. This is just my first time and I have many more peppers left over so I will be getting more creative with this process.
Mexican food is normally very easy and simple good fresh food but it can be a bit time consuming. Well worth it. Like when I was first shown how to make Salsa Verde.
I was so blown away how easy it was, I knew at that moment I would never buy it in a jar again. I always made it after that. But here in The Netherlands I will need to grow my own tomatillos. With luck I will have some fresh yummy Salsa Verde at the end of the summer.
Keep life exciting. Heat it up with some homemade hot sauce or fresh salsa. There are no little elves making our food, its not magic. Life is too short to eat over processed food. Some of the best things in life are simple.
So recently I had to get back to Sacramento. Not a planned trip. I had made the common mistake of renting part of my house out to a “friend” and yep that’s right he fucked me over. Trashed my backyard, ran out on a lease with 8 months left. Leaving me a big mess to clean up and bills to be paid that I did not have the money for. How to know who your friends really are is always a good question to ask yourself. I have now asked myself that question many times, sometimes on a one on one bases and some times in as a group.
I first started to ask myself these questions on a group scale. I remember the first time I really realized there could be a difference between friends and acquaintance “kennis in Dutch” definition in the dictionary is (a person one knows slightly, but who in not a close friend “a wide circle of friends and acquaintances synonyms: contact, associate, connection, ally, colleague). It was back in my late 20’s I had a lot of “friends” I knew so many people and people were always coming to my house for parties and it was all a really good time. The music was always rocking the booze was always flowing. I had a bar room down in my garage in San Francisco I called the Tokyo Room. I am not so sure anyone else called it that but that is what I called it. I had bands play in there a few times like Los Cerveceros SF, The Woodys, The Sloe Gin Joes are the ones that come to mind. I had bands play in my backyard I remember having Russell Scott and his Red Hots play for my birthday. Man o man I loved that band and really wonderful guys as well. I often hosted them at my house when they would come up from LA. I had many many after hour parties, after shows let out. ‘‘The Whole gang” would show up at my place in The Mission District . It was a pretty rock-in time, We were the beautiful people for just a minute in time. We were young, dressed in beautiful vintage clothing “dressed to the Nines” seeing great bands, dancing through the night to old blues and early rock n roll with a drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other, till the break of dawn. Yep it was the time of our lives. Finally at one point when the smoke had cleared and the hangover from a few really fun years kicked in I found myself laid up in bed for a few months after getting rear ended in my little red truck working as s a messenger. I had time to do a lot of thinking about a lot of things and about who where my friends. Out of all those people there were really just a handful that came by to check on me. At that point I downsized my friends list and my acquaintance list become very long sorted between good and casual acquaintance. It was a real eye opener for me. I gave the word Friend a lot more value once I really understood what a friend really is.
After that I used this precious word far more carefully. In time my world become very small. I had become married to a non social man and had a baby with him. After a year or so I found myself a single mom feeling very alone living in Sacramento not really knowing anyone but my father and his family.
I struggled to find my way in a new city where I had no connections no “friends” broke and a single parent of a small child. This was 1999. No My Space no Facebook and for me no email no internet, this is back in the day that you still needed to meet people face to face. It was really impossible for me to find a new circle of friends “acquaintances” in Sacramento. When my estranged husband got out of prison he and I tried for the last time to make things work for the sake of our son. During that time I opened a small barber shop in 2001. This was to be my first step to finding like minded people. Problem was no one liked my husband. He really was not a likable person for reasons I will not get into now. With in a year of opening the barber shop I called Eddy’s Deluxe Haircut (named after my son) the marriage was finally over and life could really start again. Again I was meeting lots of fun people who love music, art, cars and lowbrow, drinking, “The low road” I was in a unique situation with my barber shop to connect people. At the time I was not only focused on my son and my business but rockabilly music, car kultuer, local lowbrow art and all the advertisers that come with it. I was selling local art, hard to find rockabilly and psychobilly, old country and some punk CD’s, hot rod and subculture magazines a large selection of hair pomades and other strange accouterments out of my shop. For a short time I was putting on free show on Sundays out of the shop with bands like Arsen Roulette and The Ricochets, Cock Fight Kings, Jim Rowdy show, The Pimpsticks, Sacramento The phantom 4 and other local bands. I was having parties at my house and really wanting to connect all these creative people together that I was meeting. Of course some already knew one another but I was surprised in a small city like Sacramento how many did not know each other.
I then built my outside tiki bar in my backyard. I had some fun parties, but in my mind I needed a year round tiki bar so I took apart the back of my house and built a year round tiki bar. I first called it The Tiki Hideaway and then later changed the name to The Zealandia Room. This was a great spot again for after hour party, hosting bands and connecting people. And again I had so many “Friends” Life was on fire. I was having such a great time. My shop was doing great. Hosting bands started to promote a few shows. It was also during this time I started Cock Grease. Life was good,
Then one day the world turned upside down for me. I really did not see it coming. First a “friend” got really really mad at me because I was not able to make it to a show that she was promoting. She had her husband come into my shop and take his art down and they quit talking to me. I remember going home and wanting to talk with my “really good friend” and roommate about what had happened and he did not come home for a few days. Then one evening I noticed in the bathroom his things were gone. I looked in his room and most of his thing where also gone. I was floored. I had no idea what was happening to my little world. Very soon after that I noticed that a lot of my “Friends” where not coming in for hair cuts. I had still not put everything together yet. The short of it all was there was this one very sexist guy in our little scene that did not like that a women who where doing the things I was doing and he wanted to take me down. He wanted to put me out of business. Again I had considered he and his wife my “friends” Ha…. ya not at all. Scene climbers I believe is what people like that are called. So many of the “Scene” had drank my booze ate my food and partied at my house. Many meeting each other at my house, shop or shows. I was sure I had a lot of “FRIENDS”, Nope turns out most were just acquaintances.
For several years I was still trying to confirm what had happened to me and finally someone close to this scene climber confirmed what I suspected. It was heartbreaking. So again I learned my lesson. Sometimes I am just not so quick. I have to “burn my hand over and over before I realize the flame is hot” So this time I got burned good. I had learned my lesson.
But again no matter how careful I am I still find myself believing that if someone tells me that I am their friend and I also feel they are my friend that that means something. It’s a commitment not to fuck each other over, to have each others back. To stand up for them when they can not or are not around. To be there when they need you if you can and to call them out on there bull shit when they need to be called out. To cry with to laugh with, you can fight with and still love and respect them. I have really great friends I may not get to talk with for years but when we are together again it’s like no time has past. These are friends. If I call you my friend this means something to me. In this big world real friends are few and far between. Love them respect them and DO NOT take them for granted.
To all me true friends out there. I love you! And if I am thousands of miles away from you are still important to me.