Inside (and in site) the mind of a former heroin addict and gang member… What are these muggers M.O. and motivation?

Not a gang… just a group….

I am sure that you (San Francisco) have heard about the rash of muggings going on in Bernal Heights.  We held our first Bernal Safety neighborhood meeting tonight at Bernal Community Center to get together and exchange information and discuss ideas to help us all stay safe.  The meeting was filled with a lot of information and ideas/suggestions most of which i am sure will be well outlined on http://www.bernalwood.wordpress.com by morning (if not, i will write a post in the morning with the update, because tonight, i want to give you this inside scoop).

After the meeting, i went home and got a call from a friend.  We began talking about what was going on and i gave him the basic low down.  This friend of mine did not used to be the way he is today and he tells me matter of fact that i would NOT have liked him at ALL if i would have met him back then.  Not many people did.

Back then, my friend was a bad heroin addict and was a legitimate gang member.  He had a bad habit and was not unfamiliar with violence and crime.  This is some of the things he says he feels about these perps.  Mind you, these are just his insights and opinions not the iron truth about the perpetrators.  However knowing him, he is probably pretty close to right on target….  Let the information begin….

  • The first thing that he told me was that they are probably taking the money to flip it to buy drugs to flip that to make bigger money.  Most likely there is a drug connection.
  • He is really insistant on this one… they are most likely NOT affiliated with a gang.  In the gangs, blacks and hispanics do not inter-mingle.  In fact, there is a lot of bad blood between the two races in the gangs. So he thinks that they are NOT gang affiliated but just 3 guys that most likely are….
  • Living here and are probably NATIVE San Francisco-ers.  They know this city and the neighborhood too well.  The nooks and crannies.  That tells that they have spent a lot of years tooling around the city streets and feel right at home here on main OR small streets.
  • They probably live near Bernal… possibly in the lower lying lands.  Most likely in a rougher neighborhood where illegal activity and violence are an every day thing for them to see since they were small.  This is their world and their lifestyle.  Crime is what pays when getting a job out there is virtually impossible (especially if you dropped out of high school or come from an impoverished neighborhood that does not show opportunities to its youth the way wealthy and affluent neighborhoods seem to.. (and even those neighborhoods kids are having a hard time not to mention the adults).
  • He said that he really doubts that they want to shoot and kill anyone.  They dont want to increase the incarceration time involved with a murder if caught.  The violence or threat of violence does enough.  They still accomplish their goal.  If they wanted to kill somebody they would have by now.   I questioned this since they most likely are the same ones that shot the guy in the hand at 30th and mission last week and pistol whipped a victim.  But he remains very insistant on this not being the case.  He says not because they have feelings about taking a life but because the consequences involved if caught.  (that makes more sense).
  • My friend said that his options to come up if he was dope sick and needed drugs was either to steal it or to sell his body.  He chose the first but he said

    “I did what i needed to do when i was dope sick on heroine.  Robbing people was an easy way for me to do that. “

  • They are probably living in a very poor native neighborhood where crime is an every day happening.  It is a way of life.  Poverty and drug abuse and violence is a way of life.  They are probably living in or near the projects and most likely have an (at least one) abusive parent(s). 

There you have it folks.  From the mouth of someone who (seriously regrets his actions as a youth) has lived it first hand.

It is also something to think about… People can change.  People can make better lives and choices for themselves.  People are often just a product of their environment and until we have walked a day in someone else’s shoes, we really could not know what it is like to have to live their life.  Anyone can make a change for the better in their lives.  I personally know someone who managed the impossible and did so. He corrects me and says he is still IN the process of DOING so.

I say… good for him!

By the way.  I am so glad that i still live in a true old school mentality of neighborhoods.  It feels like it used to.  I love the fact that we are all working together.  Strength in numbers and knowledge is power.  You are AWESOME BERNAL!!

On such a day of thanks, How could it be that one of my dearest friends Reid Gilbert passes away when he is in the prime of his life?

 

loss2012

loss 2012

  On Christmas night.  Right after finishing a lovely Christmas dinner with my dad and 3 of his friends, i receive the news.  Reid is dead.  What?!!?  NO!!  How on earth could this happen?

Reid and his boyfriend John Fox have been 2 of my closest and dearest friends for almost 20 years.  They moved to Mexico two years ago after Reid’s brother (who was living in Mexico) went missing and was later found to be murdered.  In the process of looking for his brother, Reid fell in love with the community that his brother had decided to call home for 21 years.  After dealing with a lot of paperwork and legal tangles here in the states, John and Reid ended up moving down to the community that his brother had made his own.  They had been down there for a little over a year.

We dont know what the cause of death is (possibly a blood clot from some small surgery to his toes 2 days prior.  Regardless, he passed in his sleep while staying with John at his mom’s house.

When someone asks you… do you know anyone who has a perfect relationship?  Most of the answers will be no.  However, i did have one.  One perfect pairing that lasted from start to finish for 21 years.  This is John and Reid.   They found each other early on in life and decided to be together then and there.  Since then, they have formed a bond so tightly that they worked almost more as a single unit.  They perfectly complimented each other.  There was never a time where some other person put their relationship at risk.  They loved being a couple.  They were one.

How John will go on with the last half of his life?  It is going to be tough i am sure.  They planned on being together for much MUCH longer than this!  John is strong though.  He was the one that was more of the anchor and i am glad that it is him and not the other way around that has to pick up the pieces because i dont know if Reid could have if the tables were turned.

So on this season of thanks, i have to thank you Reid Gilbert.  You brought this world so much happiness.  You were one of the very best ones one could find.  Even if you did not know Reid, we all have lost a giving loving soul.  He was an amazing person who will be missed so much for so long.

So, for me, although the world did not stop for us all on Dec. 21, 2012, It did stop for Reid, and in turn, our lives (those who knew him) have ended an era as well.

I LOVE YOU REID GILBERT!  I HOPE YOU CAN SEE FROM ABOVE, THE POSITIVE IMPACT YOUR LIFE HAS MADE ON SO MANY AND THAT YOU ARE AT PEACE.  THANK YOU!!  I miss you so!

Q: Is it ever anything but torturous watching a parent (and best friend) slowly dying? Answer: NO!!

I have been avoiding this post for some time now.  I guess i just did not feel it right to write about someone who i know is going to read a post about themselves and it is about dying, but this is just too big of a topic in my life right now to ignore any longer.  It is also something that is being discussed openly now between ourselves so i suppose it is time to talk about it here.

I always would ask, which would be worse, being like my grandma on my moms side who passed away earlier this year, having dementia and losing your memory but still healthy as a horse?  (She would take long walks but often not know where she walked once she got there!), OR be like my great aunt on my dads side (and my dad just the same), to be sharp as a tack up until the very end but have the body TOTALLY break down in the process.  So, is it better for your mind to go or your body to go??

I have gone back and forth with this over the years.  I used to say that severe pain would impact the choice of body breaking but there is something to be said for having your wits till the end.  It is a hard choice to make and thankfully, fate or the gods are the ones that decide that for each of us if we are lucky enough to grow old and die from it.

I know life is an ephemeral and fleeting and nothing lasts forever, so why are we so hard wired to not want those around us to ever leave us?  We all know logically that we are only guaranteed 2 things in life.  1.  We get a ticket to planet earth when we are born, and 2.  we get a ticket home when its time to go.  I like to see it as “vacation on planet earth”.  Your vacation can go one of two ways… really good or really bad.  It can be influenced by where you have to take your vacation but it does not make it a guarantee that you will have a fabulous or terrible vacation simply due to location.  However, if you get chosen to “soul up” a body in Darfur, your chances of having a super fun and easy vacation are probably going to be hard to come by.  But, that doesnt mean that you can not hopefully change the location and improve your trip.  On the other hand, you could be “souled in” to a body of a multi-millionaire’s baby and be brought up with all of the luxuries that one could imagine and be isolated or treated so poorly that it does not matter because your vacation on planet earth is just one nightmare walking amongst priceless artifacts and long cold hallways.  I think that is why happiness has much less to do with economics than it does with community.

Anyway, back to my original issue.  The thing that is so tough right now is… well, several things… But, one of them is that there are questions that can only be answered by them and this is your last chance to ask them.  What is it that i need to ask?  Once they are gone, the information they hold in their brains goes too.  You only have this chance to ask all of the questions that only this one person can answer.  AND you can not think of the questions that should be asked.  (i think this is one of Murphy’s laws (btw… who the heck is Murphy anyway?? Poor bastard must have had the most frustrating life!!).

The other thing that is so tough is letting the sick person see that you are effected by their sickness.  I do not want to cry to their face because i am so gutted that i am losing one of the most important and influential people in my life.  I want to appear strong so not to scare them.  I do not want them to see how hard it is for me because i can only imagine how hard it is for them.

I feel like time is going in slow motion, yet it is blazing past me and with each minute that ticks by, is one less minute i am on earth with them.

I think it would be so much easier on our psyches if we knew what happened to us after passing.  If you are religious, you probably automatically believe what you are told to believe.  However, since we have other things that we experience here on earth that we have no explanation for that could possibly tie into our souls local’s upon vacating the body (such as remembering past lives, old souls and ghosts) that it adds a variable of the unknown and hope i think that something is in place for us.  I do not think we are comforted by the thought that after dying our soul just evaporates and vanishes.  How could something so strong as a soul which assisted our will to live while in life, and is invisible anyway, just disappear.  I think (maybe just for convenience) we like to think that there is a place for our souls to go after this life.  The not knowing is the tough part, but also i suppose the part that keeps us as simple people and not as the mighty “God” which i think in life, we forget sometimes.

I know i am not really making any specific point here, but i just need this to start the conversation that i have on loop in my head.   My dad is dying.  He is my best friend and probably the one single person that influenced who i have become more than anyone else so far in my life.  We all know it and we are talking about it (which is very strange when it is with the person who is doing the dying!)  I thought it would be more uncomfortable talking the hard real truth’s with him but now that we are here, it is not hard, it is just so scary and sad.

I know that this is just the natural cycle of life and that if it did not happen, then we would have something really to worry about!  But it doesnt make it any easier at all.  This is a game changer for me.  It is usually for most of us even if we do not have a very good or any relationship with our parent.

In what way my life and personality will be affected is unknown to me at this point.  In fact the impression will be so huge, i dare not even speculate, but i do know that it will change my life.

I suppose when we experience loss, in a way, the gods are clearing out our lives and throwing us out into the unfamiliar world again to start anew but with newly found or understood skills to make the next path taken with a slightly different approach or a different set of desires.

Usually when i find myself in these types of places of rebuilding after major loss, i have found that when it is time to get up and go after those things i want out of life, the wants and the things and the needs have changed.  Always they have simplified and become much more basic of wants and needs.  It allows you to appreciate all that you were unable to realize while spoiled and familiar with the past experiences.

I am not (obviously) not looking forward to the soon future without the protection and love and friendship of my dad, but i embrace who i will become and what he has taught me once he is gone.  I am just so lucky and blessed to be able to have the time now to ask those last important things as well as getting some things sorted out and understood which will make our job after he goes a lot easier and a lot less stressful.  For that i am eternally grateful!

Regardless, it sucks how much we miss the ones we love once they are gone!  At least, hopefully for me, the pain will help to create new art.  And i can say that it is because of my dad that i made it on this occasion!

I love you dad!!

My dad this past year. Love you Pops! (sorry for doing a post about you:)

I was posed the question why is your dad the best? This is my response. Happy Fathers day Dad!

My dad is the best. Period. He is so loved by my friends that he received a xmas card and they forgot me.

Dad has come to save me so many times.

From the time that i was illegally evicted and woke up to the sheriff changing the locks at 9am.

He was there (and he lived an hour away) by 10:30am. He helped me get a uhaul and a storage and then took me in for 7 months until i began school.

Several years later, on Halloween night i got a call from my roommate who was at home who said that there had been a fire.  I had left the house and all was well and within 2 hours i had no home.  I called my dad at midnight.  I woke him up but he asked me if I wanted to have him come right then and pick me up. In San Francisco… on Halloween!  The traffic alone!…!  I told him no but he was at my friends house that i stayed at by 11am the next day.  

He took me to my house where i couldnt get in, drove me down to his house and then drove back up to SF that night to try and find my cat.  He then took me in for a whole year… to the day exactly!  

These are just two of countless things that my dad has helped me or saved me so to speak.  He is my knight in shining armor.

He is my very best friend.  

He now lives in Las Vegas, but we talk about every week or two and he comes to visit 4-5 times a year even with his deteriorating health.  

He is not going to be with me for too much longer, but i know he knows and i know just how much i love him, how great of a dad he has been and that i have always been and will always be his little girl.  I love you dad!  

Happy Fathers day! 

I love you very much!!

Imagelife

In memorial of my dear sweet Sasha who i lost 4 years ago today.

I know most people give me that off slanted look when i talk about a cat that died 4 years ago.  They think i am 1. a bit crazy (which may not be wrong), and 2. going to grow into one of those crazy old cat ladies who wears a lot of purple & hats and the kids are afraid to trick or treat at’s house on Halloween (this may become true too.  Who knows!).  All i know is that the friendship and commitment that this little critter and i shared for over 14 years, left a huge HUGE impact on my life.  I have never had another living creature effect my life since in such positive ways.  I now have little rescue kitty Arthur who is still terrified of everything (except me now.  Yea!) but, he is coming around.  Just because Sasha and i are cosmic friends, doesn’t mean that Arthur and I will not build one either, but no one or anything will ever replace the love i have for that darn little cat.  Here is to you Sasha!  May the afterlife be treating you beautifully.  Wait for me, i will be looking for you!  I still do miss you so.

Sasha and me just before he died. 2007.

Sasha and i when he was younger and healthier in 2003.

Sasha and Emelie in 2003.

I have noticed since my own Grandma’s passing just how many of us use WordPress to express mourning.

I started my blog, i think around last November.  I was inspired by our AWESOME local Bernalwood.Wordpress.com blog (which is one of the cleverest blog and communities that i have ever come across!) to start my own.  They were on WordPress so i signed up in turn.

It was incredibly easy to get stared.  It was however, a little bit harder to create a cohesive blog.  I did not even think about that when i started it.  I guess i just thought it would be about any and everything that interested me or that I found amusing or outrageous.  This lead to a lot of re-blogging.  I really felt a little like I was cheating by doing more of this than actual writing myself but i did not know in what direction to start these writings.

Then came December 23, 2011

My roommate had a cat named Tiki.  She was the runt, that was not breathing, from the litter from her mother, who was brought in as an alley cat and died shortly after giving birth.  Tiki may not have come into this world without a helping breath from Jason, but once she got here, she was a toughie!

When i moved into the house, Jason was not home very much (like i mean ever!) and the other roommate ended up mostly feeding her .  As soon as i got there, I was it.  I was adopted new mommy. She picked me as her mom and was by my side from that day forward.  She slept with me, she was fed by me, she even went on a short  walk around the block with me.  She was basically mine by then.  But she was also Jason’s because he raised her. We both loved her very very much.

On December 23, 2011, she died.  It was one of them most awful, violent, horrendous experiences I have ever had to witness.  I think i will always be a little bit traumatized from watching her writhe in pain and howl, with blood coming out of her mouth, over about 20 LONG minutes until she finally died.

I was NOT prepared!  I knew she was 19 years old, but to go out in such a painful way….  It was just awful to every sense of the word.

That moment was when it all came together for me.  That was the time that i decided to do my 10 day homage to Tiki, ending on Dec. 31, 2011.  I thought i would be able to grieve and honor her and also start my new year with some closure.  (It also helped that the next day after she died, i rescued Arthur from being put to death by about 2 hours on Christmas Eve.

Since then, i have had 2 friends pass as well as my Grandma.  Maybe i am extra aware of it because it is so fresh, but i really have been noticing how a lot of people use WordPress as a vehicle to pay homage to those that we love, that we lose.

I know for me personally, it has been EXTREMELY cathardic to the point of almost therapy to have had this outlet to use to express all the emotions tied up in that kind of loss.  From what i keep seeing on people’s blogs, I think others have found this too.

It is really cool because not only can you alert people that you have had a loss, but, you can do a tribute to that person so that their death becomes less about you and your greif, and more about the person you lost and their life.

So for this amongst a lot of other things, I thank you WordPress. for creating a forum for all of us to honor those we have loved and lost!

I miss you Grandma, Tiki, Big Ben and Lentle (this is the dec-april 2012 list).  I hope you are in a place with no stress and pain and only positive energy that surounds your spirit!  I am looking up or out or around at you and i hope you are looking down or over or through or however it might work, to see how much the people in your life love and appreciate you.

(I could not do a piece on loss without saying ‘love you little guy’ to my kitty Sasha who passed away in 2007.  Still feels like yesterday

(above: Tiki about 3 months before her death.)

.

(Above: Sasha and Me circa. 2003.)

(above: Family (dad taking picture) circa 1978 with Grandma leading us to our departure gate)

Enhanced by Zemanta

My grandmother passed this morning. She was 90! And happy till the end!

Image

Todays post is in honor and memory of my grandmother.  She was my mom’s mom and passed away this morning.  My heart is with her husband (in photo below with her and me).

My grandma was suffering alzheimer’s disease and was being well cared for in her progressive caring facility.  She was pretty fit.  Very happy and non-stressed was the mood she was last in before her passing makes me feel good.  I think that is probably the best way to go… Old. Not in pain. In your sleep. Before dementia steals everything making it a very scary place to have to be.

She has a good life and was absolutely adored by her family and friends.  She was just a really sweet lady.  I am very sorry to see her gone from my world.  I knew it would come but i didnt expect it to be this soon.   My thoughts are with her husband, whom i think of as practically my blood grandpa (my grandpa died when i was 8 and my grandma re-married a couple years later to her childhood friend and have been happily married since).  He loved my grandma so purely.  The kind of love that you just dont see these days anymore.  They were truly a perfect union.   They complimented each other so beautifully.  Now he will be surrounded by family and loved ones who will flood him with love.  It wont make up for the loss of his true love, but it will be ok.

Thank you grandma.  For if it werent for you, i would not be able to be here to mourn you now.  You were the anchor of the family and you did a great job keeping us all together and loving us all so much.    We love you too.

Rest peacefully Grandma!  Keep a look out for tiki and sasha!  My kitties are up there somewhere!  They will take good care of you!

I love you and i am sorry that you can no longer hear me say it to you on this planet.  But i do so i will say it just one more time….

GRANDMA, THANK YOU AND I LOVE YOU!!!

Image

This is to allert you all that Bluepearlgirls world in officially in mourning….

Yesterday morning our dear cat of 19 years… (she has been mine for the last 2), died a traumatic and horrific death.  I am in shock and therefor not my usual skippy self.  I plan on taking time away to put together a Tiki Memorial which i will post here.  I just wanted to explain why my header is not Mt. Sutro right now and my page is in black… It is still active and you have found it but it is experiencing some deep sadness and am in deep mourning.

Miss you little critter!

Tiki in the sun 2011

If you or a loved one has recently lost a beloved pet, the SPCA recommends the following reads…

Reading Materials

  • Grieving the Death of a Pet
    By Dr. Betty Carmack, R.N., Ed.D., Augsburg Publishers 2003
  • Losing A Best Friend, a collection of articles compiled by the San Francisco SPCA
  • Pet Loss: A Thoughtful Guide for Adults and Children
    By Herbert A. Nieburg and Arlene Fischer, Harper & Row, 1982
  • When Your Pet Dies: How To Cope With Your Feelings
    By James E. Quackenbush and D. Graveline, Simon and Schuster, 1985
  • Living Through Personal Crisis
    By Ann Kaiser Stearns, Ballantine, 1984
  • Coping With Sorrow On The Loss of Your Pet
    By Moira Anderson, M.Ed, Alpine Blue Ribbon Books, 1996