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No Gemini/Sagittarius full moon would be complete with a travelogue, right?

We spent the long holiday weekend making a pilgrimage to San Francisco, and everything was wonderful… the two daylong drives through surprisingly light traffic, the hotel, the meals, the visits with friends and family. Perfection. Even the cats had a good time, since our neighbor visited them twice a day in our absence, lavishing them with fresh catnip and proving much more attentive to playtime than Bodhi and Spike’s slackass parents.

Mostly, we did what people do when they visit San Francisco: we ate, we drank, and we hiked up and down hills until our calves seized up. It was cold and damp and cloudy, so coffee – always a passion of ours – assumed vital importance. If you find yourself in the city and want a really outstanding cup of coffee, consider a pilgrimage to Ritual Coffee Roasters in the Mission District. An oasis tucked into a nondescript storefront on a very funky stretch of Valencia, Ritual serves one of the best cups of french press coffee I’ve ever tasted in a cafe, and their service is stellar. Don’t miss the fresh gingerbread.

San Francisco is a sophisticated city, but now and then it will remind you that it’s essentially Ground Zero for crazy. One night, waiting for a table outside a North Beach restaurant, I was approached by an enthusiastic street busker who assaulted me with a zesty accapella rendition of “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg”. He finished his number, asked me for a quarter, and then berated me for “only” giving him two. “Ain’t too proud to beg,” indeed.

Luckily, we’d fortified ourselves with an inoculation of crazy in a brief detour through Santa Cruz on the way up the coast. I was reminded why I loved living there for 15 months back in 1994/95, but also why I was really happy to return to San Diego. It takes some doing for a city to make me feel conservative, but Santa Cruz somehow manages. It is charming, but kind of a freak show – even though the main shopping drag has been strenuously gentrified since our last visit, complete with The Gap, Starbucks, and Borders stores. Thankfully, the noncorporate standbys – the funky boutiques, Santa Cruz Coffee, and Bookshop Santa Cruz – are still going strong. And the once pervasive panhandlers seem to have been replaced with street musicians, which makes the experience of strolling down Pacific Avenue a lot less stressful. Unless you hate Grateful Dead songs.

When we lived there we rented a little bungalow just a couple of blocks off Highway 1, and driving into town along that familiar route made my heart constrict with nostalgia. I don’t know about you, but when I feel homesick for a place it’s usually less because of the places where I lived and ate and shopped there, or even for the people I knew; it’s really because I’m homesick for the person I used to be when I lived there, and the circumstances of my life. The Santa Cruz era was a strange one for me, nearly filling the short span of time between my brother’s death and my mother’s. It represents the beginning of the remarkably challenging Pluto in Sagittarius period of my life, when everything began to change and just kept on changing for years. Driving past our old haunts in these final days of Pluto’s voyage through Sagittarius felt fitting, if a bit sad.

* * *

In another Sagittarius/Jupiterian vein there is news, kind of, about my book. The publisher sent a mockup of the proposed cover art. These are nice people, mind you, who certainly know their business and surely want my book to succeed; but suffice to say this artwork was not to my liking. At all. It took me, in fact, to a very dark place. I spent a few days collecting my wits, then wrote a polite letter, tactfully expressing my grave concerns. Mind you, it took numerous revisions to excise certain unflattering – and almost certainly unhelpful – turns of phrase. Sigh. Hold good thoughts for me!

2 comments to " Travelogue "

  • cantwaittoreadyourbook

    For some reason no one likes their publisher’s proposed cover- ever. It’s true!
    no worries- just make sure you get one you like because long after they’re onto promoting the next books, you will still be seeing it for years to come!

  • I’m so happy you got a break and that you went to my old haunts (which also happen to be some of my favorite places in the world). You deserve it!

    As for the book cover — wow! That must have been one MF horrifically bad cover. I do hope they’ll work with you on that one, Kent. You don’t want that marring your First Book experience, for sure. ::hugs::

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