Howdy, Texas!

The following posts about our trip will not be in real time, as we have already been at our final destination of Warren, NJ for a over a week now.

I started writing this post about Houston while we were there:

The last two days of our journey have been spent blissfully doing nothing but lounging at our cousins’ beautiful Houston home.

It’s for sale if you are looking to buy in Houston: http://www.trulia.com/property/3059821734-1333-Ashland-St-Houston-TX-77008

We love this place so much–if we were looking to relocate here and could afford it, we would scoop it up! It’s absolutely the kind of home we are hoping to have for ourselves someday…on the first level there are beautiful hardwood floors with an open family and living area, large kitchen with breakfast nook, a screened in back porch with a lounge swing perfect for relaxing as we watch the kiddos splash in the salt water pool. Upstairs has three bedrooms and a cozy lounge area. The master bedroom has double doors that open to a balcony and the master bath has a separate jacuzzi tub.

This is why we haven’t ventured out in two days except to take baby Pip for a walk through the Historic Heights neighborhood, stopping at Boomtown coffee on 19th St. and enjoying a delicious El Gordo Afro Gato, made with ice cream from another local spot called Fat Cat Creamery. This was one of “8 Must-Try Coffee Desserts in Houston” according to Zagat in 2014: https://www.zagat.com/b/houston/coffee-desserts#8

On the third day we finally ventured out and went with the cousins and their three kids under the age of three (twin boys who are just over 2 years old, and 9 month old Pippa) to Old MacDonald’s Farm, a petting zoo with goats, pigs, sheep and horses for the kids to ride. http://oldmacdonaldshumble.com/

It was fun to see the boys excited and watch them interact with the animals, but the heat was a bit too much, and it was only the beginning of May.

Early the next morning we left for Birmingham, AL to visit Di’s friends and ventured into the deep south. Overall, traveling through Texas was not as scary as I had imagined it to be, and the people were all very friendly. Austin was, of course, closest to our queer sensibilities and we had a great time walking around SoCo (South Congress), shopping and eating and more than one fellow queer lady commented on Di’s Tegan and Sara t-shirt. I was also impressed to learn that Houston had a lesbian mayor (Annise Parker) up until the end of last year, who served three two-year terms.

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The Land of Enchantment

I’m writing now from the cozy bed in our actually quite lovely hotel room, just outside of Austin, TX. This is the first time in a few days that I’ve been able to get working wi-fi, so I’m taking advantage to catch up on various emails and boring reality that can’t be completely ignored just because we are traveling.

I’ll try to sum up the last few days as succinctly as I can…and if you are following me on Instagram @thisqueerfemme you can see the photo of me standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon wearing a faux fur vest and heels. So fun to do that little photo shoot inspired by my Great Grandma O’Keeffe. According to family legend, when she sees the Grand Canyon for the first time, she exclaimed to her husband Raymond, “What’s the big deal? It’s just a giant hole!” I would love to have met her.

I had more of a reaction of awe than my Grandmother; standing on the edge of such vast and immense beauty was truly breathtaking. We also stayed a night in Sedona, and it was, of course, picturesque and stunning with an adorable town and friendly people. Despite this, I was glad to leave Arizona and enter the Land of Enchantment–New Mexico. Our stay there has been our favorite so far. We enjoyed two blissful evenings at the Ojo Caliente Spa, about an hour north of Santa Fe. The combination of fresh from the garden food with four different types of mineral hot springs and gorgeous scenery, provided some much needed nourishment and relaxation.

After reluctantly leaving the spa Monday morning, we stopped at a fantastically amazing art collective in Santa Fe called Meow Wolf. I totally fell in love with this place and I don’t think I can describe it fully without writing page after page. All I can say is that it was like walking through room after room of a dream (some may say nightmare depending on what was in the room!), and each hidden door or passageway led into something even more magical than the last. I was incredibly impressed with the amount of work and creativity that went into creating this space that had adults wandering in wonder as much as the children.

We both loved New Mexico immensely and the energy everywhere we went or drove through felt very peaceful compared to Arizona and now Texas. Perhaps a bit of our fear of both of these states’ political leanings and reputations for intolerance colored our view, but I also felt that it was because of a stronger Native American presence and less cowboy. No offense to cowboys, but there is a bit too much swagger and gun holstering for my taste.

I admit that I went through a mild case of Enchantment withdrawal as we have spent the last two days driving over miles and miles of Texan asphalt and flat land. I perked up briefly today when we stopped at a darling old fashioned soda fountain diner and drug store/gift shop called Owl Drug in Coleman, TX. If you’re ever driving the mind numbing expanse between Lubbock and Austin, I highly recommend taking a pit stop here for some home cooked goodness and friendly service!

Next stop, Houston, for a three day visit with cousins and probably lots of bbq.

Yee-haw, Arizona

After a pit stop in Bakersfield last night, we drove over the border of California into Arizona today. The scenery was stunning and lovely, of course, but for some reason I felt irritable. I rarely get road rage, unless someone is being blatantly rude or clueless and driving slow in the fast lane. I don’t understand why it is so difficult to politely move over to the right (especially on a relatively open road where there is plenty of room between semis) to let the other person pass correctly.

As we continued further, I realized that my feelings of frustration were not really about the white SUV that refused to move, no matter how much I tailgated pointedly. Recently, a close friend was rejected by her parents because she brought her girlfriend home to visit. They’ve had 10 years to adjust and learn to accept that their daughter is queer. They site their religious beliefs as the reason that they can never accept who she is, and in their minds they believe she should choose celibacy over happiness with a partner.

I don’t understand how a parent can turn their back on their child, especially when that child is happy with who they are and not doing anything “wrong”. When that child bends over backwards to be there for their family, and will always love them no matter what they do or who they love. I am always grateful with situations like this, that my own mom, who is a devout Catholic, always accepts, loves, and supports me. No matter what. She realizes that she doesn’t have to follow the teachings of the church and Vatican when they do not align with what she sees to be true. And that is that love is love.

I know that I said in my first post that I would post lots of pictures, but it’s much easier to put them all on Instagram. Follow me @thisqueerfemme to view! We are traveling with our chihuahua bobble head ChiChi LaWolf who will make frequent appearances with our road trip pics.

Leaving Neverland

My wife says that blogs are “over” and nobody reads them anymore. Which may be true. All people have time for these days–I am actually old enough to say that!–is scrolling quickly through photos and watching You Tube videos. I admit that I myself don’t read blogs on a regular basis–though there are a few that I like and will check in with periodically. Regardless, I felt compelled to start a new one now, as my wife Diana and I are also starting a new phase in life, and moving cross-country from San Francisco to New Jersey. I’ll try to keep my posts short with lots of pictures. This is a medium I’d like to use to express and share this journey and I hope people enjoy reading.

This move comes after 12 years living in Neverland (aka: SF, The City by the Bay, The City – nobody calls it Frisco, sometimes San Fran might be acceptable). As a “transplant” (not a native, born and raised San Franciscan), my opinions and experiences are probably very different from those who grew up here and their families who are still in the area. I read an article in The Bold Italic recently about the exodus of people leaving SF because of the extreme rising (and rising) housing costs, and why the author of the article decided to leave as well.  Someone commented that transplants come to the city in their twenties, then move out in their thirties when they realize they want a back yard. And, yeah, I want a backyard. I also want to pay a reasonable price for one!

We have decided to live in our parent’s basement to attempt to “grow up”. I realize how bad that probably sounds to some people, as I’m not in my late twenties, but late thirties. Here in Neverland, having roommates is crucial to survival, so it still feels like we are just in an extension of college life, but with “real” jobs.

Living in SF is (to me), like living on a large adult playground within a giant 7×7 square foot mile bubble. People can come here to escape reality, and to find themselves along the way. I am so in love with the magic of this city, and I’m grateful for the last twelve years I’ve been able to play here. It hasn’t been easy living 2,000 miles away from family and only seeing them once or twice a year (I’m one of those people who actually like and enjoy my family). I’ve created a second family here, though, and leaving all of them now will be just as hard.

I’m having growing pains as the reality hits me. We will no longer walk 3 blocks up the hill to Philz coffee on a Saturday morning, meeting up with friends at Dolores park in the afternoon and dinner at Firefly in the evening. Driving to work, I won’t have stunning views of the bay and Golden Gate Bridge just over the hill where I park. No more hearing the ding of cable cars rolling through narrow streets, seeing Coit tower illuminated like a beacon against a black sky. Time to say good-bye to Karl the fog, floating down from the outside in, reaching our neighborhood in Noe Valley and the Mission area last, with only the tip of Sutro tower popping out the top. Having somewhere new to go and explore any day of the week, and still being surprised at finding a hidden forest right in the middle of the city, usually with the intoxicating scent of eucalyptus. Concerts in Golden Gate Park, museums and art galleries to explore, I could go on and on.

Most of all, living in San Francisco–especially one neighborhood over from the Castro, where gay pride is a daily, not annual event–I can pretty much be open about who I am as a queer femme (and I don’t have to explain what that means).

I am inspired by Ellen Page’s Gaycation series, playing now on Viceland–please go watch, especially U.S. episode; but maybe not if you are a Ted Cruz supporter. In the series she travels across the world, exploring what it is like to be gay in different parts of the world (and close to home, as in the U.S. episode).

I admit that it is a bit nerve-wracking not knowing exactly how people may treat us as we make our way down the oh, so friendly southern states that have such open and accepting discrimination policies. More than likely, we will look like good friends traveling together to the clueless and hopefully we can find the best places to let our freak flag fly in true SF fashion.

I promised to keep this short…stay tuned–up next, trading the bay views for canyons.

New Year, New Opportunities

Grow

I’ve been remiss in posting for far too long. The holidays flew by as they usually do and we are already more than two weeks into the new year. As I reflect back on 2013 and where I was a year ago, I am amazed at how far I’ve come. I started last year just coming off of disability and unsure where my career would go, only knowing that I wanted to make and sell my jewelry. I was fortunate to be able to take my time developing my skills and my business. I took a small business course through Women’s Initiative called Simple Steps and I can’t recommend it highly enough. The bonds/connections/friendships made were invaluable to me, and the knowledge gained and put into action will help me for years to come. Check out their website here and get involved if you can:

http://www.womensinitiative.org/index.htm

The end of the year was a bit of a whirlwind, as I started a new part time job at my old hospital to add to the part time nanny job I already had in addition to Katie Wood Jewelry. While I am completely exhausted and trying to find a balance with it all, I love each and every thing that I am doing, and that is a rare thing (and something I don’t think I’ll be ready to give up anytime soon).

You can find me at Newborn Connections Gift Shop (CPMC hospital lobby, 3700 California St.) Mondays, Tuesday mornings, Fridays and every other Sunday. We have great gifts for mom and baby as well as a variety of items for kids and adults of all ages. Our main location at 3698 California St. is ‘Your Resource from Pregnancy to Parenthood’ where we provide ongoing prenatal classes, support groups, breastfeeding and baby supplies and lactation services.

http://www.cpmc.org/services/newbornconnections/

The beginning of 2014 has brought excitement and joy as my girlfriend and I just got engaged! We are so grateful to now have the opportunity to get married with the same rights as everyone else, and are looking forward to planning what we hope to be a fun and chill celebration with our friends and family. We also have a joint business venture that we are working on and plan to launch later this year, so stay tuned!

I have so many ideas and projects in the works for this year, and I know it will be a challenge to manage them all. After struggling for so many years in the past with debilitating depression, I feel the need to make up for time lost. It’s important for me to remind myself that I don’t have to do it all right away, things seem to happen at the time they are meant to, and taking care of my health always has to be my number one priority.

I wish you a year full of joy and blessings and good health!

kt

Katie Wood Jewelry has a new home until September 29!

Katie Wood Jewelry has a new home for a limited time only. Come by Guzel Jewelry Design at 1714 Union St. on the corner of Gough in SF, hours for the week M-Th 2:30 – 7pm, F-Sun 11-7.

You’ll find Katie Wood Jewelry’s newest collections, including the limited edition Vintage Preserve series of bracelets and necklaces. Painted copper charms housed in modern styled mini circles with delicate chain. Some of the charms you’ll find are white and black hearts, fleur de lys, and blue hearts and butterflies. These truly unique pieces will be at a reduced rate only at Guzel until the 29th, so hurry before they are gone for good!

The collaboration of Semiha Durak’s beautiful turkish mesh necklaces and Katie Wood Jewelry’s double sided whimsical pendants will be available during this time as well. Two pendants in one and multiple options to style your necklace chain in striking colors and shapes that you create yourself for a truly unique style that everyone will ask “where did you get that? I want one!”. Be the first to set the trend. You’ll be happy when you show up at the next party or event wearing something nobody else has seen before. They make perfect gifts everyone will love as well. http://www.creita.com

Katie Wood Jewelry at Guzel Jewelry Design
Katie Wood Jewelry at Guzel Jewelry Design

You only have a few days left…September 29 is the last day!