1480 Waller

When I met Stephen in 1980 I lived at 1480 Waller Street in San Francisco. Later that year we moved in together. We were a match made in heaven.

At the time, we read to each other. The book that left a big impression on us was Helter Skelter. Apparently Manson had lived in our building or a few houses down from ours, but this was the Haight Ashbury and it seems every house had its myth.

But back to Helter Skelter. In our impressionable 20s it was quite a story, and living on the first floor, though with bars across the windows, and bars across Manson himself, we nevertheless freaked out when we heard a noise.

For whatever reason, imagination rampant, we were convinced someone was trying to get into the apartment from the hallway window or perhaps the kitchen door that led to a garbage area via some stairs. The door had a big wooden bolt across it, a la castles in the 1800s. And perhaps we forgot to bolt it? Or was the little hallway window left open? Damn if either of us volunteered to check it out, mere babes we were.

Instead we devised a plan where we took turns staying awake and protecting each other. I wonder what we thought we would be able to do should an intruder surprise us. We never found out because we fell asleep on the job.

When we checked out the situation in the morning, it turns out that the hallway window had bars and the big wooden bar across the door was secure. The noises we had heard through the night were raccoons in the garbage.

Forward almost 42 years later. Stephen posts a song from the Ace of Cups on his Facebook page. A friend comments with a video of the band. As Stephen is watching the video, he gets all excited and shouts 1480 Waller, they lived at 1480 Waller!

He does a little research and finds the dark sides of 1480 Waller, too. And very dark they are. When reading this article one can see the sociological changes for women from then. Though times seem to be going backward right now, the horrors of this story in the courts make me sick. Read and weep.

The victim is called promiscuous, taking drugs, having tattoos and a hippie lifestyle. The gang rape was called an orgy in the SF Chronicle headlines. Our block of Waller was called “Terror Terrace.” The detectives working on the case were the same ones that worked the Zodiac killings.

We had no idea how many ghosts were in our building, on our block. We might not have fallen asleep that night.

Back Again?

It has been a while and it seems the whole world has changed. Certainly my life has.

At the beginning of this pandemic I saw a chance that we’re all coming together. Being in the same boat/world provided an opportunity to put our differences aside and root for each other. What other option was there?

I look around now and wonder why I had such faith in people. Shouldn’t I have known better? Didn’t 4 years of Trump prepare me for the divide and hate and idiocy? Apparently not.

There is a certain kind of idea of freedom that only exits in this country I live in right now. An underdeveloped idea of freedom, a freedom as a toddler might express. And it goes hand in hand with the belief that this is the freedom other countries can only dream of.

They have no idea that many countries have moved beyond and come together as a community where everyone is valued and that freedom comes with the responsibility to others. OK, only sometimes. I see that in Germany we have the same idiots spouting the same bs as here. It’s discouraging.

In the meantime it’s a grueling and tiring experience to slog through a pandemic that some don’t even believe in.

Although first worried about covid, my personal experience shifted pretty fast. At the end of 2020 we moved in with my father-in-law. After several visits to the E.R. he needed more care and after interviewing several caregivers we decided we would be a better choice.

Though that was true, we didn’t realize how limited Stephen’s work time would become. Or that we basically lived in one room only, the bedroom. Or the kitchen for cooking.

The living room was taken over by the television tuned to the news or sports. Neither of which we had an appetite for, especially 24/7.

There were good times, too. We always ate dinner together with lots of talking and remembering and discussing. And afterwards we would watch Shtisel, a show we all enjoyed. It was fun creating this routine.

Several months later I had a heart attack and landed in the E.R. I had a stent placed, diagnosed with congestive heart failure and eventually with an ejection fraction of 24%. Not good. At the time I was also struggling with bad knees and had hoped for knee replacements. So recovery didn’t include a lot of exercise. Knee replacement was now out and the only way to walk was with a brace a friend had given me. The shortness of breath I now experienced did not help either.

A few days after my release from the hospital, I think it was only 2 days later, I was back at the E.R. with a partial bowel blockage. Talk about pain! And the indignity of having a tube placed through your nose and into your stomach.

What else could happen? Right? Well, a few months later, I fell and broke my hip or rather the neck of the femur. After waiting 2 days in E.R. for a hospital bed I finally got the surgery I needed with 3 screws holding me together right now.

Sorry about all the boring medical details, believe me, I’m as tired of it. Because, here I sit on the couch or lie on the couch or am in a wheelchair on my way to the bathroom. Exciting, yes? Not! And all this for 6 weeks in order to heal the fracture.

My first thoughts were, great, all the streaming catching up with shows and all the books at the library at my disposal. That only sounds good until you do it. But no whining. A lot of people are locked up as much as I am still trying to find the exit to this pandemic.

I still can cook with the help of Stephen. I sit at the table and call out the veggies I would like to appear in front of me. I ask help for a million little steps that involve cooking. And I should be forever grateful to Stephen for being so generous and being part of every process in my recovery.

I hope I’ve broken the ice and will post a little bit more on here.

Let me at least tell you about a book I recommend and one I don’t. Only recently in my life have I started reading mysteries. Henning Mankell being one author I really enjoy. His book The Man from Beijing came as a surprise. So much more than a mystery. I love how he weaves history and social issues into most of his novels.

And the book I don’t recommend is The Push by Ashley Audrain. Unless you have an urge to feel depressed and down. In spite of the darkness I could not stop reading the book. But stay away.