It's no secret that I absolutely adore Santa Cruz. I arrived here nearly 20 years ago to be in a band. A band! Yes, it is true, Nakedjen readers. I left my very nice flat in Washington, D.C. and my respectful job as a retail store manager at Betsy Fisher to come to Santa Cruz with a bunch of deadhead patchouli smelling boys and be in a band.
Ask me how many performances this band actually had? Or what its name was?
I can tell you that save for all the hours and hours and hours and hours we "practiced" in the house there was never ever a single performance by this band. And we never did decide on a name. In fact, there was so much pressure to be "great" that the whole thing fizzled and half the band moved out of the house before the first year of the lease on our rental in Bonny Doon was even up. That left me and Greg. Who've I talked about plenty before. Living in a five bedroom house in Bonny Doon where we had the usual rotating cast of Santa Cruz hippies in and out and around the mulberry bush until we both got so tired of trying to make a communal house work that we gave up that big beautiful house and moved into the single, one room, tiny log cabin across the road. The log cabin that had daylight and fresh breezes actually blowing through the spaces between the logs. The log cabin that had a lean-to bathroom. And was stealing electricity through a big fat orange extension cord from the house across the way. The log cabin that was eventually torn down because the only thing that was truly holding it together was termite poop. Yes, that log cabin.
All of that was a long time ago. When Clyde was still very much alive. When Jerry was even still alive and the cabin was so cheap that it allowed us to tour with the Dead without worry about how we would also pay the rent on our place in Santa Cruz that we would eventually return to when the tour ended and we had to stop spinning and actually land.
I've lived in Bonny Doon. I've lived on Seventh Avenue in the cute little beach bungalow right at Twin Lakes. I've lived on West Cliff Drive where I could hear the sea lions barking all night on the wharf and the children's screams from the Big Dipper. I've lived near the Pogonip in the fancy house with the swimming pool and the hot tub...swanky! And of course, I've lived right downtown. And in every house, I've loved Santa Cruz to pieces. I've embraced this town. I've done my best to let it know just how very much I adore it.
I've been friendly to my neighbors, I've been kind to their children, I've participated in neighborhood clean-ups and fought really hard for a dog park and open public spaces. I've protested at Lockheed and demanded to know what they're doing in there, I've shown up with concern about what's going on with the water supply, I've cleaned the beaches, I've protected the trees, I've made sure that people could recycle when there wasn't a true recycling option. I've fed the homeless, I've worked at Goodwill, I've stood on street corners and given people directions and made them feel at home.
What I'm trying to say is that for the last twenty years, I've truly loved this town in every possible way that I could. I really have. And for the most part, Santa Cruz has loved me back.
But now? I'm not feeling the love so much. At all.
I'm being harassed by the Moldy Landlord. I honestly believe in my heart that I've done the right thing by him, have been more then generous in the way that I handled the entire matter, and yet he's harassing me to pay rent for November when I'm not going to be living there a single day and when the lease has already been declared null and void.
I'm already fragile, worried about exactly where it is I am going to live with my two big dogs, and the Moldy Landlord just won't drop it. But it's not just the Moldy Landlord.
For over a year, I've been working very hard to secure a safe place for Buddha and Stella to be allowed to exercise off leash. A place where they can romp and play with other dogs safely and that is truly sanctioned as an off-leash dog exercise area. Our current option, It's Beach and Lighthouse Field are both being given back to the State on November 15. Which means that after that date, dogs will no longer be permitted in either place off-leash. This is a tragedy for all dogs in the Santa Cruz community, but I think it is a real tragedy for the COMMUNITY of Santa Cruz, as well. When dogs do not get to be properly socialized with other dogs and do not get proper daily exercise off leash, they can become a much bigger problem for our citizens. They can become destructive, they can become aggressive, and even their owners risk greater health problems because they are not getting as much exercise, either.
I have presented many viable options to the Santa Cruz City Council for alternatives to Lighthouse Field. The folks who are the Friends of Lighthouse Field never wanted to actually work with me because they were so focused on keeping Lighthouse Field. They told me that if I offered alternatives, it would take the focus off what they were trying to do.
But let's face it. They were unsuccessful. I was unsuccessful, as well, since no one on the City Council bothered to even consider any of my options. And now? As of next week I will receive a $500 fine for each dog ($1,000) when I walk Buddha and Stella off-leash in Santa Cruz. Does that sound like a dog-friendly town to you? When I asked the Mayor of Santa Cruz, Emily Reilly, what she expected me to do to exercise my dogs once Lighthouse Field was no longer an option she looked me straight in the eye and said, "I expect you to perform civil disobedience and just walk them off-leash anyway!"
Do you suppose I can send the $1,000 fines to her? Because I'm going to be getting them daily. Twice a day, every day. That's how often Buddha and Stella get a walk. And they NEED their walks. Or they're going to destroy my house.
Which will only be my house for a few more days, anyway. Because, I did give my 30 days notice here. And I have to move. Only I won't be moving into the Moldy House, as that isn't an option.
Since Santa Cruz is not being friendly to me anymore on many levels, and today I noticed that the police are beating the students who are trying to save the trees and come on, this is Santa Cruz, we are supposed to LOVE OUR TREES, what the hell is going on here? Has the entire world gone mad? Dave decides he is done and now the police are beating the students with bully sticks because they want to protect OLD GROWTH TREES? Not to mention that they're spraying me with pesticides tonight! From the sky! Spraying the town. And they have NO IDEA about how it will truly affect us!
This town is no longer the town that is safe for a Nakedjen like me.
So, I'm bidding it adieu. It makes me quite sad, actually. Because, as I've said, I really do love this town. Or what this town was, once, a long time ago. I'm not so sure this town loves me anymore.
I'm headed first to Sundance. To the Film Festival. And after that? I have no idea. The Universe will let me know. And when I know, I'll let you in on the secret, too. It's been a beautiful ride here in this old town. But all good things, I suppose, must come to an end. And my Santa Cruz story has reached its last page.
8x365 It was a tragedy that brought us together, but we knew, just knew, we were sisters with the same heart. I could not imagine what my life would be without you in it? If I'm going to blow it, it better be with you.