Memories of Sylvie

There are no words to share with any of you tonight that would sum up the lovely woman who called me “friend” for more than a decade. We had many discussions, we laughed and she tried to get me to dance at one of her nighttime music fests. I cannot give this woman enough credit, she was an inspiration to me, and one of the people who talked me into going solo to Paris in 2009. I can only wish that I could have been a light for Sylvie in her supreme darkest hour.

Sylvie Le Mer, a Brittany, France native, was a profoundly spirited and loving woman, a talented and head strong businesswoman, she was sole owner of Ti Couz Crepery in San Francisco for 19 years, (at 16th and Valencia). Whatever darkness she faced, she chose to find the light at the end of a very painful tunnel and transition to a better horizon in her own way the evening of October 24, 2020. My heart is broken, but I accept Sylvie’s transition and I will hold her in my heart always.

Thank you for introducing me to the many great people who worked at or visited Ti Couz! Rest in splendid peace, my dear.

Sylvie Le Mer photos courtesy of , Fatim Vet

Much To Remember – Sylvie Le Mer

2002 was a tough year for me. My mother was diagnosed with Dementia and Parkinson’s and I found a cute 1-bedroom, rent-controlled apartment, but had a hard time moving in – owners/landlords did not want to rent to me. But, I persevered and lived at the The Alturas for 17 years, more than proving myself a worthy tenant.

The Alturas is a cozy 1910 Edwardian at 3116 16th Street located in the Mission district of my hometown of San Francisco, Ca. It sits above what is now Giordano Brothers and a current corner grocery store that was once a Wells Fargo bank. ( The design of the ceiling at the current corner store is the same in all Wells Fargo banks.)  

I lived above Ti Couz Crepery long after it was considered one of the hottest places in the Mission.  You could not get into the place back in the day, lines were around the block.  By the 2000s, Ti Couz and many other sole proprietorships and “moms and pops” businesses were suffering financially, times were changing.

May, 2007, four years before Sylvie was forced to surrender her business, I held a staged reading of a book of poetry that I wrote about my mother, Courage, Strength, Faith, at Intersection for the Arts Theatre which was around the corner from where I lived. When I first noticed Sylvie, I rarely spoke to her, she was always bustling and busy with her business. When we did speak she was very sweet.  Sylvie was nice and unpretentious. I mentioned about my reading. 

“Oh, you’re a writer!”

“Well, I call myself a writer. I majored in Psychology.”

“Well, if you know people then you know we love to celebrate. You will need bottles of bubbly for your event.”  Sylvie said with a bright smile.

“Oh.  Well, how much will that be?”  I sheepishly asked.  I was working for the city at the time and was my mother’s power of Attorney.  Every dime I had, including mom’s retirement money went into her private assisted living care.

“For you, my Lorrie, nothing, nothing!  You are doing something wonderful for your dear mother and you will need to have bubbly!” 

Sylvie sang her words.  I will never forget how she acted like my event
was the cure all to end all, like I was Toni Morrison having a soiree and
Sylvie was the caterer. And to make it even more generous, one of Sylvie’s
long-term staff, Miguel Flores, whom I had come to know as a very kind, humorous man, helped wheel the liquor around the corner to the theater.  Sylvie evoked a family-type atmosphere at Ti Couz and with me she gave me a reason to visit Ti Couz, I felt like belonged there anytime I wanted to be. 

In 2010 when I was laid off as administrator for the Health Dept. Sylvie sat with me.  She did not speak, but she let me know she was there.  Another time Sylvie had a pop-up of various neighborhood crafts vendors to sell their wares, I was one of them, I have knitted since I was a child.

I am sure mine will not be the only story to share about Sylvie Le Mer, but I am grateful to those of you who are reading my story.  As for mental health “issues,” I will not leave suicide prevention information, I cannot tell anyone in pain to “reach out,” when I know life is not always that simple.  All I can state here is that when someone leaves you much to remember, hold those memories dear and let them flourish as you grow older.  It makes all the difference in the world.

Lorrie Denise

SIXTY-ONE

No other reason to state that I was born today, August 27th, than to announce the obvious…I was born.

I will continue to celebrate whatever and whenever I can without depression, without fear and anxiety. I will continue to celebrate with the breath, creative energy and courage and strength flowing inside me and I will move forward in good faith, happiness and peace. Happy birthday to me!! LDS

Lorrie Denise Sargent, aka “Lolo.” I gave myself that name because my mother told me I could not pronounce my name properly.

Me and Santa

I was born with the “family forehead.” Tee, hee! *snort*

One of many fancy dresses my late Aunt Annie, my father’s childless married sister bought for me.

Me with one of two dolls I still have, Cassabooba. Except an evil babysitter, Brigette, cut off both my doll’s hair cause she was jealous I had them.

To this day I love being naked!
Diva!!!

Humbled that I got to live this long!!

(Bday pix at top courtesy of Pinterest/Red Bubble)

RISE

2019 – Grief, debt, living my 6th decade on this earth in a new place and living with a ridiculously unprofessional, ill-equipped, non-existent American leadership. I am happy to state that I am hopeful.

2020 – All of the above plus a new job and of course, for all of us, Covid. I am happy to state that I am hopeful.

August 2020 – For my 61st decade of life I would love to not struggle for air at a time when no one of us are certain the air is even real. I am happy to state that I am hopeful.

For my 61st decade of life I would love to believe in lavender bliss, deep, long lavender bubble baths and a lavender cocktails that taste exquisite. I am happy to state that I am hopeful.

For my 61st decade of life I want to laugh from the inside, even when I am not happy. I am happy to state that I am hopeful.

For my 61st decade of life it would be nice to embrace the guy who I am astrologically and creatively compatible to.  Unfortunately Idris Elba is already taken.  Plus, I heard Covid got his gorgeous, asthmatic ass!  Get well Idris. I am happy to state that I am hopeful, but you know not for Idris, ’cause you know he’s not available and I am no homewrecker, but just sayin’.

For my 61st decade of life I would love for all Americans to strongly consider that in order to make America great we must ensure that every hard-working American is fed, educated and able to make a living to support themselves and support and maintain the cities in which they live.  THAT is what makes America great for all concerned. I am happy to state that I am hopeful.

For my 61st decade of life I would love to see Justice for Breona Taylor and every black person and BLM sympathizer I have witnessed just this year alone who have had to suffer indignities because of three letters that seem to irritate the status quo, BLM.  I did not make up the moniker, but I DO know that we ALL are of one imperfect race, HUMAN.  We, humans, are not privileged or chosen to persecute other human beings.  The only thing any human being is CHOSEN to do is die and we are not even PRIVILEGED to know when or how.   And that is the one thing that makes people of all colors the same. I am happy to state that I am hopeful.

For my 61st decade of life – I will work hard to teach my brain that I am not on this earth to suffer. My heart is healthy and both my brain and my heart will rise above it all.  We ALL will rise above it all. I know this is true.

WaterLavenMelonade

Life has never been and never will be certain.  Experiencing life’s trials and life’s joys has never been and never will be certain.

Nothing in life is certain. Nothing. 

What IS certain in LIFE?

Resilience.

Faith.

Strength.

Courage.

Determination.

Homo Sapiens, the human species, are fairly resilient,

faithful, strong, courageous and determined. 

The human species, of every ethnicity, does not bow to destruction.

The human species, of every ethnicity, finds hope in the simplest things.

It is a good thing being of the human species.

It is good thing to be able to find joy from inconvenience and pain.

It is even better to use what time we have in this world to flourish in our existence.

For instance, I choose to write, knit, create, dream and connect.

What would be a creative delicious way to connect at this very moment?  Well, I believe a tall glass of Watermelon with Lavender Lemonade would be simply heavenly right about now.  Ahhh.

WaterLavenMelonade

An Amazonian Bone to Pick

Whenever my mother looked me in my eyes and started her conversation with, “I have a bone to pick…” I knew she was upset about something or someone.  Or, I might have done or said something she did not approve of, I was often the smart-ass spoiled daughter.  What was bottled up inside my mother that she did not speak on at the time had exploded, and a bone was about to be picked. 

I find that lately people of all ages are picking bones, especially given this current infested administration and lack of competent, educated and compassionate leadership.  People are plain fed up and they are speaking on what they believe is unfair treatment and a lack of consideration by some of their fellow human beings. 

This brings me to a young father of three who spoke out and lead a charge recently over Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his lack of compassion and responsibility to protect his employees during the COVID-19 virus.   I have been an Amazon customer for about fifteen years.  I am currently employed by Amazon as an Amazon Prime Shopper at Wholefoods Market – first in San Francisco, my hometown, and currently in Los Angeles, where I now reside.  As a customer I have no serious complaints about Amazon.  As an employee I have, however, a few bones myself to pick, although, I have only spoken out to fellow co-workers. 

My Skype chat with Chris Smalls.

In February 2019 I resigned from a full-time job, was heavy in debt. and I was about to lose my apartment after being there for 17 years;  I was in pain from having suffered familial loses and euthanizing both my 17 year-old cats in the last three years.  But, it was burying my mother in 2016 that triggered the unrelenting, unfair cinder block shroud of grief that had caused me to punish myself for living.  By 2019 I had bones to pick, with God.  

My long-time friend, a Los Angeles native who is employed with Amazon in the Los Angeles warehouse suggested I apply online with Amazon.  “Don’t be dumb, you have to work, you have to eat.  Just go online, they will hire you right away,” my friend said.  I applied, got the job as a shopper and after the orientation and drug test I began working in April 2019. 

Jeff Bezos acquired Wholefoods and placed shoppers at Wholefoods supermarkets, where Instacart once stood.  A shopper picks groceries for Amazon Prime customers at Wholefoods, bags the groceries and “stages” them on shelves and in refrigerators for independent drivers to pick up for delivery.  I actually adore being a shopper, the best part is meeting new people, many of whom had their own life stories to share and maybe even a few bones to pick.  Plus, the job is completely cardiovascular, walking for four and a half hours every half shift, sometimes two shifts.  By the end of the day I was exhausted but fulfilled, I had a job where I felt productive, important and hopeful. There were issues like how shoppers have to get their shifts on a first come, first serve basis and other things, but I let all that go for the simple fact that I was able to feed myself and get back on my feet.  Fast forward to COVID-19 virus that is crippling the world.

My friend, the Amazon warehouse employee, has recently lost a co-worker to the COVI-19 virus.  He has not been to work for weeks and is not receiving stay-home pay.  Many other Amazon employees are at risk, including myself, I commute to and from work, I cannot afford not to work. 

Currently there is so much online about Chris and what he is trying to accomplish, all you have to do is google him to find many articles about his fight with Jeff Bezos to protect his employees during this troubling time.  There are also articles about Amazon being against Chris and trying to darken his name.  But, there are also noted people who support Chris’ efforts including Us Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Senator Bernie Saunders, Alexa (yes, the voice of) and many others.  I am a playwright and creative writer, not a journalist, but I wanted to get to know a little about the determined and compassionate young man and why he felt the need to speak out. 

Chris Smalls is the eldest of three boys single-handedly raised by their strong black mother.  Born in Passaic, New Jersey and raised in Hackensack, New Jersey, I asked Chris what he wanted to be as a child.  Chris stated that he had always wanted to play basketball, (Chris stands six foot, one inch tall).  He also wanted to be a rapper, The Notorious B.I.G. (Chris Wallace) is one of his favorites. 

Chris began with Amazon in 2015 as a Tier 1 picker in the New Jersey Amazon warehouse then he transferred to the Connecticut warehouse and then Staten Island warehouse.  Chris was impressed that one of his co-workers, a black male, was promoted from Tier 1 position.  After 7 months of very hard work and determination Chris, who was married at the time with a growing family, was promoted to manager with a full staff.  Chris’ pay started at $12.75 per hour, $12 was minimum wage in NYC at the time.  By the time he made manager his wage went up to $18 per hour which helped him to support his family.  Chris “opened” three buildings starting in New Jersey, then Connecticut and finally Staten Island.  For Chris being manager of a hugely successful company like Amazon was what the American dream was all about.

What struck me about Chris’ determination to fight Amazon “big wigs” during the virus situation is that he mentioned he always felt he was a leader, he always knew he was, not that he wanted to be, but he felt he was meant to be a leader especially when it came to leading people toward a positive outcome.  He claimed he got his encouragement from his mother.

When the COVI-19 virus took over the world Chris noticed measures were not taken to protect Amazon employees, there was no testing or proper protection, therefore, sick employees were working at facilities, at warehouses or as shoppers at Wholefoods Markets and risking contaminating their peers and customers.   Amazon offered no stay home pay.  Chris told me he was approached by many Amazon employees from all over the world including Germany, Tokyo, Australia, Canada and Sweden who requested paid time off and retro back pay for the month of March.  They have begged him to continue to speak and have praised him for his efforts. 

Where I work many of us Amazon employees wonder if this virus is so deadly, and from many accounts it is, why are Amazon employees sent to work?  Where are the virus tests given for employees?  Why work if we are not sure if we have the virus?  We still have no concrete idea where the virus came from and how it is transmitted.  Why isn’t everyone tested?  These are questions we Amazon co-workers share with each other but not aloud.  Not the case with Chris Smalls. 

It is my hope Chris’ fervor and altruistic drive will not only gather more hard working Amazon employees to come together in solidarity to make sure we are treated fairly and protected in order to help Amazon maintain its thriving company.  Before we signed off, I asked Chris, “Chris, what do you consider a patriot to be?”  He replied that a patriot is chosen by the people for what that patriot does on behalf of people.  

Until then, here’s to Christian Smalls, a true patriot and American hero, an Amazonian bone picker who stepped up, stood out to lead the charge during the COVID-19 crisis to help raise the voices of Amazon warehouse and shopper employees all over the world for employee protection! Thank you, Chris!  Keep moving forward, sir!

Please see the video trailer for a new film featuring Chris Smalls. HERE.

Social network links for Chris Smalls:

https://www.instagram.com/chris.smalls_/

https://twitter.com/shut_downamazon?lang=en

Chris Smalls Productions

THOUGHTS ALOUD

I find myself looking up at only sky

Never mind the bare branches of a lonely

family of trees

Never mind the sad existence of the

empty hope life can bring

Never mind the heart’s desire that lay

in squalor forbidden to grow.

I only see the sky

I only feel the dampness of doubt

and the vague breath

of a life I could never know.

I find myself looking up at only sky

but then I remember to DREAM.  And

when I dream I feel my heart and

suddenly brilliant color and the depth

of flourishing beauty exists in my desires. 

And I find myself opening my heart and

expanding my lungs and singing and loving

and shining with rich, vibrant, magnificent

splendid life!

Thank goodness, my heart’s desire…it still breathes within me. LDS

Pix courtesy of Pinterest.com

OLD SUN, NEW LIGHT

I awoke this morning to the old sun shedding new light on my new life.

After having moved from the comfort of my hometown of San Francisco back to Los Angeles where I lived years ago, I awoke next to my 1970s childhood Christie doll with hope renewed.  I stated “comfort” because that is how I have lived my entire adult life, 9 to 5 job, pay bills, pay rent, eat, etc., with an occasional tiny glow of creative dreams realized and awarded.

This morning I saw the same old sun gleam through the blinds in my new surroundings, but it gleamed with a new, beaming ray of light, a new hope for the positive changes that await me on my journey.

Right now as I gather my thoughts, my writing, my heart and my soul, I vow to continue being creative; I am determined to live my life as the artist I truly am. I will begin by picking up my current projects, my One-Act play, my fiction novel, and move on from there. The more comfortable and settled I become, the more I will express my thoughts online. Until then…

I awoke this morning to the old sun shedding new light on my new life.  And all is right with the world. LDS

SO FAR, SO HAPPY!

This blog entry is not going to be clever or thought provoking.  I don’t have anything special to share except that I have diligently been putting out my writing work entering contests and mentorship programs  since February when I left my 9-2-5 job. I’ve gotten some rejections, but also acceptances.  Including this graphics attached to an email I recently received.

I submitted an essay to be part of a community of writers for a full color, hard cover book.  Last week I got an email with the announcement that I will be included in the book on writers from around the world telling their stories on why they write. This is, so far, the best news I’ve had this year.  More on the book, coming this Autumn, as things progress

I am beginning to find my place in this world. Here’s hoping we all find where we belong.  So far, so happy.  Cheers!

GRIEF IS REAL, SO IS LIFE

I recently took a leap of faith and walked away from a horrible, but good paying job in search of what my place is in this world.  Now I am struggling and why?  Why would anyone do that to themselves, quit working with no help and no back up?  In my quest for answers it did not take a therapist to tell me that I am punishing myself for living after burying my mother and euthanizing my boy cat, my two major duties in life.  Losing a job was my final loss of duty.  I am grieving.

Being dutiful was all I knew, it was all I had ever been.  I had dreams of becoming a mother mainly because I wanted to take care of people.  But, I never seemed to focus on MY life, on what makes ME happy.  I realized being dutiful was all that made me happy, made me shine, but it was not about ME.  I felt safe and comfortable being dutiful and when loss occurred, my duties were gone and grief set in I had no idea where to go from there.  Taking a “leap of faith” did not help me find my way in life, rather, it became my punishment, it was grief clinging to my spirit and that is not good.

A couple of days ago I began binge watching a new Netflix special called, Street Food.  Asian and Filipino street food vendors share their stories of sacrifice, loss and success.  Just when I thought my leap of faith was wearing thin, just when I began to regret my decision to finally find my own way in life, just when I thought of giving up and go back to working a 9 to 5 and spend the rest of my life living only to pay rent and bills, I found Street Food.  These folks (chefs, cooks) refused to give up, even in their struggles they found their purpose in life. 

It was no coincidence that I stumbled upon this series, I am sure of that.  I might watch all the episodes over and over just to drown out the noise in my head; “You failed!  Go back to work, forget about being a tee vee writer, Hollywood is a closed door industry filled with narcissistic hateful people who don’t want you to win! Working class is the only road for you!”

No, I CAN win, I realize that now. And I am grateful for this subtle sign from mom, God, the universe, whomever or whatever made me click on Netflix and watch the stories of these lovely people who have endeared way more than I could possibly imagine.  I believe I was meant to watch these stories because I have always played it safe, I always had a job and I always paid my bills, on time. What I want in life is to get paid doing what I enjoy even if I have to struggle and sacrifice.  Grief is real, but moving forward is vital.  I will move forward, I have to move forward.  We all do.  Thanks for reading. LDS

Boy in a Bubble

The Hollywood “clique,” as I call it, of entertainers is to me a very strange environment of talented artists, many of them, but also of narcissism, fantasy, excess, often-times back stabbing. And, it is a closed-door society that is unbelievably revered and envied by folks who have no clue how damaged that closed-door society is. A person who is elevated to a high tax bracket by parading in front of cameras on reality shows, or acting or making music and selling out arenas is not immune to being HUMAN. They can be damaged, insecure, unhappy, jealous, angry, nervous, just like regular working class folks. They possess a plethora of mental health issues, they abuse drugs and alcohol, they were molested and raped and treated poorly by their partners and family members, just like regular working class folks.


I find the Hollywood clique not just a closed door, but a unique “bubble” that is sometimes difficult to comprehend. I mean, from all appearances people in the Hollywood clique hang out together, everybody is everybody’s cousin or child, they marry the same people. These people understand the closed door world they live in and would never share or explain that world with “outsiders.” On the other hand, even if they did explain and share many of us would not believe or want to be part of it. Yet those of us not of that world find those folks enviable and interesting.

Is it any wonder, then, that a person of the Hollywood clique, an actor on a popular television show decides one day to pull an alleged prank by pretending to have been brutally attacked and lassoed with a noose by MAGA hat wearing “haters” in below zero weather when he went out early one morning to grab a quick bite? Why would he not? He is in a bubble, a world that is protected by his “people” who all stick together and support each other. Of course, we later learned from police and FBI that two brothers from Wakanda, okay Nigeria, were the alleged perps who were allegedly paid by the actor to perform the ruse.


If in 1955 Mamie and Louis Till’s 14 year-old son Emmett had the same privilege to shout, “no, I did not whistle at that white woman, please leave me alone,” and walk away free and clear on his word as a human being, I would not mind the ruse. If in 2018 stabbing victim at MacArthur BART, 18 year-old Kia Wilson had the privilege to walk away from the devil that took her life, I would not mind the ruse. Many other brown men and women and non-brown men and women who were cruelly unfairly mistreated and killed in this “great” country, due to HATE, should have all had the privilege of life.


It is a shame that time, money and media attention was given to an actor who for whatever foolish, poorly plotted reason chose to pull a ridiculous prank on his fellow human beings, some of us who live paycheck to paycheck. Perhaps this might be the time to rally for donations and support from that young actor for fallen loved ones who were brutalized and murdered for no other reason than HATE.

In the REAL world, you blow bubbles, you don’t live in them. Period.

Photo credit: Bubbles: ashgreenprimary.uk