Senryu : riding shotgun

mural in Hunter's Point, photo by M. LaFreniere, all rights reserved, Cactus Haiku
a Hunter’s Point Mural

me riding shotgun
Lori swerves around traffic
click, flash, got it, go!

senryu and photo by M. LaFreniere, all rights reserved

Lori and I drive into San Fran, the rain falling in sheets. surrounding us, a grey muted ghost world. Glad I’m not driving.

mural maybe in Mission, photo by M. LaFreniere, all rights reserved, Cactus Haiku
mural maybe in Mission

She’s going to see her dentist and drops me off at a coffee shop. At the coffee place, they give me a barcode to get into the bathroom. The scanner unlocks the door. Weird. They do that here because of the large number of homeless. You see their tents under the bridges when you drive by. San Francisco — everyone wants to help the homeless as long as the homeless aren’t living in their neighborhood. Meanwhile studio apartments rent for $2000 to $3000 a month here. The In-and-Out has a sign help wanted and they start at over $16 an hour.

stop the evictions mural, photo by M. LaFreniere, all rights reserved, Cactus Haiku
Stop the Evictions mural

Many people cobble together a lifestyle with roommates and staying at home with their parents in order to afford the rents.  Some can’t afford it and are evicted. There are people with fulltime jobs who live in their cars — not many but still. Meantime many seniors are selling their homes and moving elsewhere to ensure a more comfortable retirement.

SF mural, photo by M. LaFreniere, all rights reserved, Cactus Haiku
Mural in SF

I order a Mexican coffee ( A Slice of Mexico did a post that had me craving to try Mexican coffee tho I still haven’t followed her recipe for making one but am looking for the claypot ) and meet up with Shari. She and I were both in Asian American Women Artists Association. Back then I had a concept for a book, and we got a grant and got the book produced, Cheers to Muses. The book is filled with art and writing by Asian American women artists but they each first have to write a paragraph or two in homage to another Asian American woman who is not a family member. It is pretty cool. Recently Shari made a pilgrimage to Manzanaar with a few other third generation Japanese women artists and a videographer who is making a film about it. I can’t wait to see it.

SF Mural on Bartlett, photo by M. LaFreniere, all rights reserved, Cactus Haiku
Mural on Bartlett

Afterwards Lori drives us to her Hunter’s Point Shipyard studio. I’m shooting out the window at all the murals. The murals in Mission are bright often with a surreal or Latin American flavor. The murals shift as we drive. In Hunter’s Point, many of the murals are of African American famous people. Lori drives around the block to give me a second chance when I miss one. I spot a car painted on a garage door.

I drink some tea while Lori works on a collage. She’s incorporating symbols from the Philipines into her work. I pick up some free art books on a bench and then photograph her I & I sculpture. The rain has stopped so I go out at the top of the stairway with my long lens to shoot some photos of the dock.

school mural, photo by M. LaFreniere, all rights reserved, Cactus Haiku
school mural

—————————— end of haibun —————-

The thing with being here is I used to be into doing art and panAsian American history. Both were very important to me. I’m into photography like my photos but they are not “arty” these days but more documenting what I see like murals… or coffee.

Back in college, I’d taken photography art classes so they were very arty meaning close-ups of things so that it was very abstract. Probably why I liked Strand and Weston so much when I was introduced to them because they came in pretty close too. But these days my photos are mostly illustrative for my blogs. Coming here my arty side and the feeling of being connected into the panAsian American and/or hapa community pulls at me. But the cost of having a place to live? Crazy. Besides I see myself more as a writer nowadays.

I don’t know. Is that who I used to be? Or is it still a part of me? Are we different selves in different places because places bring out different aspects? Like a form of alternate realities with selves who lived a changing destinies. Or is it different friendships/groups/networks bring out aspects of ourselves and it’s not the place at all? Is it nostalgia I feel for a ghost person who’s gone on or is it a signal of an aspect returning?

Have you ever had this feeling of coming face to face with yourself from the past?