Russian River

The stars are so bright north of the Bay Area. The town of Monte Rio is like out of a film. Redwoods are everywhere, closely packed between wooden houses that have Christmas lights along the balconies and railings. The houses are built up high, because the river sometimes overflows. For every inch of rain in the area, the Russian river gets a foot of water. That’s why the homes are built up.

Morning coffee view

I stayed at the Roadies. Pete has been a roadie for punk bands since the 80’s. He was the guy! Paula played in one of the first female American hardcore punk bands from California. She than become a tour manager. He is English and they met on tour. They married in Bath, Uk and lived their for years. In the early 2000’s they moved back to the states, bought a house in Oakland. They then bought a house up here and after sometime, realizing the city life was too much – commuting hours over the bay bridge – they needed calm. They sold their home in Oakland and now live in the woods with “lumber jacks, construction workers, Hicks, punks and retirees”. It’s a small town and the locals accepted these two punks (he with his spiked grey hair and her tiny stature but a will of a bull).

They live the American dream. They made it here and live in what I believe to be one of the most beautiful places. It’s very calm and very open.

When we arrived, after driving past the fires in Sonoma, she had tamales made for us. We received warm hugs and caught up on what’s going on with another.

I met them in 2003 (I think). We’ve never been close, but I have always liked and respected them. Pete is hysterical – always makes me laugh, and has a heart of gold as she does too. The most reliable people one can imagine.

Unfortunately due to the Kincaid fires (All most likely because of crappie electric company wires combined with global warming), our time together was cut short, but it was sweet.

Being there was wonderful. It smells good and it’s so quiet. I could live here if it were at all possible. But for now my life is in Germany.

After we evacuated from the north, the following day I realized I had been traumatized by the Laguna Beach fires of ‘93. I had no idea. It’s not like you come into a situation like this, normally. I realized after we returned, after a friend asked me to drive her up to Sebastopol, I couldn’t. I was terrified. It wasn’t logical, because it was relatively safe, but I couldn’t. That is when it hit me that it left a mark.

I spoke to my friend Bunny about this today. She said some traumas lie dormant and only come up when a similar situation happens. I’m positive and have had a lot happen to me, so I move forward every time something bad has happened… but it’s true. Sometimes it just smacks you in the face and you cannot move.

The brain is a crazy thing…

Anyway all my friends up north are back home and safe with their dogs, ducks, cats and chickens. Not all have electricity, but it seems they are currently ok… though the fires are only 15% contained.


The day started normally for a vacation day. I woke and sat on the balcony looking at the stars over Monte Rio. It was 5 am – jet lag, I guess. I had some neck pain, so I went in the Jacuzzi and after sat in the sun with an amazing dog. It’s Paradise.

Me and Chopper

12 hours in and the word over the news: evacuation suggestion nearby. A warning…

We knew we would eventually have to evacuate because of the fires. We just were hoping it would pass us by. It’s not so difficult when you’re not leaving your own home behind. But when it’s yours, you push it off – denial? Hope? I don’t know.

I remember doing that in the ‘93 Laguna Beach fire. That was one of the 20 largest fire losses in U.S. History 16,000 acres and 400 homes.

I was 19. I had just returned home from the hospital, because of stomach issues. I packed a few of my paintings and a box of photos. I was still living at home with my mom. We left town hoping to make it safely out. Luckily the Ritz Carlton gave us a place to stay for a few nights.

The worst part was returning, though. On the drive back through the aftermath – smoke everywhere, houses gone, trees are gone. You pray that your home is still standing. It’s nerve-wracking, in a mom driving with the kids in the back, fighting for hours, kind of way.

This fire is much larger: “The Kincade Fire has burned 25,955 acres, forced more than 80,000 evacuations and destroyed 77 buildings. It is 11 percent contained.” Abc news 7 as of 9 pm.

Kincade fire map as of 12 am 27 of October

We waited for hours realizing we will have to evacuate, but pushing it off. We drank 5 bottles of champagne between 10 people. It had an apocalyptic feeling, with this our reaction.

Shooting cans with a BB gun.

Two had fixed the carrier to the roof of the Jeep, as our friend received the notice for mandatory evacuation and told us we should probably go home.

We packed and offered to help, but there was nothing we could do. Everyone scattered to their homes to pack.

Some of these people I haven’t seen in 14 years! One had been through Katrina in New Orleans and another lived in Puerto Rico during Maria. There was a mix of emotions in the group: fear, fatalism, and a little shock. So we hugged them and I had tears from having to say goodbye so soon and empathy seeing them having to go through it again.

Driving home through the hills – thank you September!

I’m sorry for those who have already lost their homes. I pray our friend’s homes will remain ok. Most importantly, everyone has safely evacuated.

Fire and wind in the north

Ed and his girlfriend, September and I drove up to Monte Rio to visit our friends the Roadies. As we drove up we past the Kincade fires. It’s crazy to see all that smoke. It was a clear sky day- no clouds and then we saw this:

Just now the emergency warnings for the surrounding areas of Windsor in Sonoma county. We’re not there… but the power will be tuned off tonight.

They now call it the fire season instead of fall (Autumn) here… and some still say there’s no climate change.

It’s like the end of the world in a way… so we decided to drink champagne and appreciate the friendships have while waiting to be told to evacuate… life is odd, but if you can stand together in the hard times (our friends risk losing their homes), than you will always be strong.

We will be ok.

The land of dreams and my heart in two

First real day back in Oakland, Ca and another sunny and warm one too.

I lived here in my early 20’s studying art working as a receptionist in a salon. The punk scene was my home and grunge was the in-style. We dressed a cross between rockabilly and punk and visited the old man bars until students from cal Berkeley came and ruined them! We’d buy Gallon jugs of cheap beer and hangout in the summer at friends homes with nicknames like 666 House, or the Maxi-pad. We’d go to shows at Gilman and have the cops search us. Bands like rancid (I had nothing to do with them) and Green Day (a little to do with one of them) came from our scene. They still hang out now and then, but fame changed them and the scene changed too. Coming back always brings up these and other crazy memories.

Ed Ho, my best friend in Oakland picked me up at the airport in a giant truck (an American norm). Back when I was in college, he used to wait outside of my studio at art school, until I was done so we could go swimming or get bagels and coffee! I was able and still can tell him anything and everything, from love to bowel movements! There is no shame and no matter what, we stayed friends- even when we argued and I refused to talk to him for days or after I moved and he felt I abandoned him, we always remained close.

Big truck, little garage

This morning we did yoga and went on errands to get me provisions for my trip.

At target as I was checking out, the lady at the counter asked me if I had a points card – ready to sell me one. I said no thanks, I don’t live here.

She said “Where do you live, honey” with a big pink lipsticked smile and her kinky bleached hair in a bun that looked like a curly palm tree.


“Woo! Germany?! Wow!” Than we chatted as I payed. Later at the phone store, the same question came up.

The lady there “why Germany?”

“For love, but we’re divorced now.” She looked a little sad for me. “But we’re friends now.” Then she smiled.

“It’s so nice when people can remain friends.“

These conversations with strangers in the states happen all the time. It’s normal- part of the culture. Caring and curiosity without having a connection. It makes the day nicer. Many Germans say to me it’s fake, but it’s the opposite. It’s just not deep… but life his hard and this makes it a little lighter! I miss that. Because of this, sometimes I come off as a crazy person at the grocery in Germany, giving too much information that the cashier doesn’t care to know…

Then Ed and I went to our old haunts. Our favorite place was the piedmont cemetery. The best view in all of Oakland. It’s calm and it’s expected that people go jogging there, or as we used to, have lunch.

San Francisco on the left, Golden Gate Bridge on the right.

Now we’re just hanging like we used to, back then. Sitting on the couch like we’ve done for years. I’d be writing something, or dreaming and he playing music on his stereo, or guitar. He’s now playing “hurt” from Nine Inch Nails and “what it’s like“ from Everlast – also from back in the day.

The Ho, playing it well.

If the quality of life weren’t so good in Germany, I’d move back in a second.

And so the day started…

I’m in the plane now. Off to AMS. I was woken at 2:45 from nerves, I guess. Anyway, I picked up my phone and my sister Casey had written how excited she is that I’m on my way. Then she wrote:

My sister is my emergency contact. That’s why she received a phone call!

Instead of Amsterdam to sfo, Amsterdam to Seattle than sfo and not with KLM but DELTA!!! Agh.

1. I fly with KLM / Air France because the attendants are cool and the food is good.

2. delta sucks!

My thought: oh not again! 4 hour delay. This has happened before. God! But wait- I get a refund! 400€ for the delay! Next flight payed for. Haha! It’s about 100€ an hour! Maybe I’ll go to Corfu and visit my friends from work in January, but I digress.

So, there is good in the bad.

I tried to sleep after- no doing. I woke, showered, brushed my teeth and grabbed a sweater that wasn’t offensive (was going to wear a nomeansno sweatshirt with a cartoon of a smiling man hanging him self next to a confused cat on the front, but realized that might mark me on customs).

I made coffee and put it in a jam jar so I could leave it at the airport (no time to take my time) than went outside for my morning cigarette… and last for 24 hours.

Oh god! I’m going to be traveling for 24 hours. Agh! I need a cigarette…

So I was now mentally preparing for this long trip, sitting outside on my front porch in Bremen, drinking my coffee and smoking and the taxi driver drives up very slowly. He is 10 minutes early. He looks like skin and bones and definitely a grandpa. I wave I’ll be right there and smoke the rest of my cigarette quickly, grab my bags ad head out. He meets me at the front gate. He is my height and definitely appears to be in his 70’s… but slow. As he walks towards me he walks through a huge puddle, smiling, shoulders hunched, and grabs my 20klo bag… he can barely carry it.

He seems kind. A very sweet disposition. He has an accent.

He gives me the option of sitting in the front or back. I choose the front. I ask to open the window, he opens it for me, than puts the radio on a young station. He was listening to Turkish music before – I liked that better.

As we drive he asks if the temperature is to warm in the car. I tell him:

„Oh no! I need the window open, because I’m afraid of flying. It helps me to calm and convince myself it will be ok.” Then he says in a strong accent “it doesn’t matter what you say, sometimes you’re head decides for you.”

He tells me he was a flight engineer from turkey and emigrated to Germany in 1973, but couldn’t get work because of his strong accent. So he became a taxi driver and is now 80! He drove ever so slowly and I was comforted by his stories. I felt this was a good start. We arrived slowly at the airport and he told me how nice it was to meet me. The bill was 14€. I gave him 20€. He wished me a lovely trip and shook my hand. I got his taxi card.

I then wrote my friend Ed to pick me up in SFO later than planned. After going through customs and that very strange non-X-ray machine, I fixed my bag after customs took it apart, because of deodorant. I asked the lady who was checking it if Setareh was there. “Who?” I spelled the name and said – “she is a very good friend of mine.” Ah! She is at the end of the scanners. I walked over and there she was (my friend,my hairdresser & style guru). She wasn’t allowed to walk up to me, but smiled and said hi from afar. She then made the shape of a heart with her blue rubber gloved hands and smiled. That comforted me too. Slowly but surely.

Everything else went smoothly… Now I’m flying! A scheißegal Tablet and I’m flying too. Amsterdam,here I come!

The night before

It’s 20:41 (European time) and I’m getting ready to sleep… super excited about tomorrow… I have to wake at 3:45, though! The adrenaline is rushing… this is why I never sleep before a flight. Agh! I hate 6 am flights.

I am also not a fan of flying – unlike my sister, Casey: “I love how the food trays are partitioned!”

I just think how this box is carrying me through the air – really, really fast! My brain cannot compute this bizarreness. Thank god (if there is one) for travel sickness pills. Aka: Scheißegal Tabletten… later!

From the „far side“… look him up!

Before the journey: preface

First I need to say: if you know me than you know I am an American artist living in Bremen, Germany since 1999. If you don’t, than I’ll tell you I came here as a hopeless romantic for love. A love that lasted 14 years… and than some. Anyway, I’m here, and now divorced living a life I had always hoped for, but never expected.

For years, after my marriage ended (having spent a stint in berlin and a longer one in Edinburgh) I’ve been searching for a job that made sense. I tried bars (16 years), in music – production management, tour management and I even managed a Café. I gave it all up to make art… and it worked out for my soul, but not always my pocket.

In June of 2019 I was broke. Being the starving artist and devoting my life to it, wasn’t paying out (that’s why „starving“). I wasn’t sure how I was going to pay my rent let alone food. Fortunately, one of my 7 housemates said “Maggie, don’t worry! It’s ok if you can’t pay for food for a while. It will be fine” I was worried, though. I had moved into an amazing home with adults who were doctors, professors – professionals. They wanted a life of sharing and being together and took me „the Artist“ in their world. I wanted to equally share in my new home – with my new family. I didn’t want to take advantage of the Solidarity… I was frustrated and scared. But in me I believed strongly a good job will come along… everyone thought that was crazy until my friend Tobi visited with his amazingly intellectual und witty girlfriend and changed everything.

“The toilets are disgusting, the food is shit and the work can be stressful, but the boss is cool and the coworkers are great” (not an exact quote, but you get the idea). What did I have to lose?

1 month later I started making little bushes and ducks for what is to be the largest model train in its size in the world. It was stressful, but paid well… and the boss was cool! I took my time getting to know the colleagues, but now I have another family!

A duck

Finally out of debt and enough savings I can travel properly! Car rentals and staying in a b&b. Honestly, I Have no problems with traveling with 0 money on my account. Life is short and I want to experience it. If I want to go somewhere, I’ll find people to stay with… I’m rarely a „tourist“. I follow the locals. I like to see where they go, what they do. Old man bars are usually the best to understand the social history and culture… plus, old men can be loads of fun!

This blog is about sharing my trips and my experiences on my travels. I’m not a journalist and as you see, I’m grammatically a disaster (comes from living in another country for 20 years) … but I like sharing and it makes it easier when I return to avoid telling the same stories over and over – which can become quite boring.

I’ve been all over Europe and North America, next year will be Vietnam and Japan. Right now I’m heading back home to the states. I’m going to travel through Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Texas and California… We’ll see what happens – what strange creatures and situations I will encounter… I’ll add photos and write when I find it noteworthy and find the time. See you later in the netherworld!

Around and around we go, where we stop, nobody knows.