I’m in Thailand and my hometown is surrounded by the flames of Camp Fire—the deadliest California fire in history. My heart is heavy with the literal loss of Paradise. I was there (Paradise) three weeks ago, doing some work for my parents. My dad was talking about updates the city was making—the new park, the downtown. As of November 8, the small ridge town of over 20,000 has burned down. Nearly 7,000 structures gone, nearly 30 people died, and nearly 230 still missing. So strange to witness such close tragedy from so far away. My love is going out to all the people and pets and loved ones and lives uprooted by this massive fire.

Here is a #CampFire List of What To Do If Your Home Has Burned, compiled by someone much wiser than me:
1. Get a PO Box

2. Longer term rental search – include insurance on it so they pay directly for rental. Find a nice place that you like, don’t settle. You should be able to get a “Like Property” so insurance should cover a nice place for you to live while you work through all this. You might be living here for 2 years, so choose wisely.

3. Find a place to buy some sturdy boots and gloves. Get some shovels.

4. Start working on the personal property list (this is not fun at all, be prepared to cry we sure did). Write down the moment you remember – keep list on phone or pad of paper with you at all times.

5. Save receipts. Loss of use insurance will cover incidentals too – hairbrush, phone chargers, etc.

6. As you buy things, tell the store owner your situation. Most stores will give you some level of discount as their way of helping you.

7. Let people do things for you. Do you have a friend that you can send to the store to buy you some basic clothes or comfort foods? Let them do it – they want to help and you don’t need to spend time doing these errands. (The ‘fun’ of shopping is gone…it quickly becomes a chore because you don’t want a new shirt, you want the one that you always liked to wear but now it’s gone and you are sad/mad.)

The Big List:

1. Register at the shelters, with Red Cross and any other agency there, california FEMA, etc.
a. Most of the aid coming in will use these lists as a point of contact and will help to ensure that you don’t get left out of anything.
b. This will be especially important should FEMA be activated, which in my opinion is very likely with the amount of devastation experienced.

2. Call Homeowners/Rental insurance to trigger “Loss of Use”
. This typically will allow you to be in a “Like” property for x number of years and sometimes has a dollar limit attached and sometimes not, this is dependent on your policy.
a. This coverage should also give you some immediate access to funds for essentials, clothes, toothbrushes, food, etc.
b. This will also get the ball rolling for the insurance claim on your home and rebuilding/personal property Dollars.

3. Get a PO Box and forward all mail to the Box.
. Use this PO Box as the mailing address on all forms you begin to fill out.

4. Start Searching for a Long term rental.
. Coordinate with your insurance company so that payments can be made directly from them using your “Loss of Use” money.
a. Plan on renting 1-2 years, but do not necessarily sign a lease for a full two years as circumstances can change.

5. Itemized List of belongings – (This is very hard but very necessary for your claim)
. I would organize by room and list everything that was there with a replacement cost. (you will cry a lot doing this and that is ok)
a. Replacement Cost should be what it would cost to replace not on sale from pottery barn, it should not be the price you paid for it with that 50% off coupon.
b. Make sure you list everything, even if it is above and beyond your policy limit. This is very important because everything above and beyond the policy limit is considered a Loss and can be claimed as such on your taxes – See #9

6. Call all of your utilities and either freeze or cancel service.
. Electric, Gas, TV, Land Line phone
a. Newspaper delivery, either cancel or update to PO Box.

7. Call the rest of your insurance points as needed.
. Car insurance
a. Any specialty insurance for unique items

8. Permits – An unfortunate necessity.
. Debris Removal – as things wind down it will be necessary to remove the debris, this requires a permit usually. (This should be covered by your insurance, we had to force the issue but ask repeatedly.)
a. Erosion Control – If you are on any kind of hill or have sloped property you will need to put some sort of erosion control measures in place, again this will need some sort of permit.
b. Temporary Power Pole/Trailer on site Permit – Getting this earlier on can prove helpful in both the rebuilding process.

9. Taxes
. You will be able to claim the monetary loss of the value of all your items minus what you receive from your insurance company. I’m unfamiliar with the exact laws, but I believe that we were able to carry our losses back 2-5 years and received most of the money that we had paid in taxes back in a nice large check.

10. Network with others. You will learn so much from others as you go through the rebuilding process. We all have our strengths so share yours and use others. The amount of time that you will spend on the rebuild, insurance, recovery process is staggering so you need to use all your resources.

Thanks to Angie‘s friend (who sadly lost her home in Santa Rosa fire last year) and made this incredibly useful list.

by Annie

I’m mostly missing my tiniest toenail. No need for pity. I imagine it adds to my mystique. I blame my mother and her woefully scrappy excuse for pinky nails. My own small scraps of keratin make a debut once every few weeks, hang around for a spell, then skitter away. The glamour is almost unbearable. My wife realized two months into our marriage that my pedicures were two tenths a sham. Red polish painted onto the skin spot where pinky toenails might be. But I already had the ring on my finger. Snowed her good.

I got a half whistle from a tan Ford Taurus yesterday. Like I was the dubious protagonist in a Louis CK skit. Tired man beat down by life, seeing a late 30s lady waiting at the crosswalk. It’s 2:30 on a Thursday, he’s driving by, hey the window was already down. What the hell. “WOoo…” the half hearted whistle trailed away, lost in the paunch of his burrito belly. So many missed opportunities in my life.

Thank god he didn’t know about the cyclical alopecia in my eyebrows.* Every three weeks the poor dears drop out like flies. I might not have gotten any whistle at all. His gaze averted as the 2002 Tauras silently rolled by. Thank god for brow pencils. I’d be a complete shut-in.


*theoretically cyclical alopecia only happens to dog flanks, but I’m a firm believer that the irregular patchy spots of my brows are symptomatic of a latent onset syndrome.

There’s a spider who lives behind the driver’s side mirror of my car. For over a year she’s relentlessly rebuilt hundreds of blown down, torn down, and wiped off webs. I’ve tried to (lovingly!) evict her, but she’s crafty. She likes the dark space behind the glass, tucked deep in the casing of the mirror. She must creep out at night, weaving, spinning, re-creating the house I’ll accidentally or intentionally destroy the next day.

It seems clear to me that I know best. How she could live, trauma-free, if only liberated from her groundhog day prison. But she refuses to accept my help.

Once I spotted her, poised at the lip of the mirror and I leapt to catch her, intent on giving her my idea of her freedom. No luck. My wife suggested I might not know what’s best for her. That I just leave her be. Meaning I just keep wrecking her home. Or maybe I take off my side view mirror?

We leave the state, the country, for a week, for a month, and I return to a side view mirror cocooned in silky thread. Back from the Pacific Northwest my poor, abused pet had been busy at work. Are there no trauma memory banks in a spider’s brain? Has she mated for life with my mirror?

I wonder what I should name her?

by _Annie_Crawford

Hearts are tricky things.

Sometimes they break.

And I don’t mean break in the metaphorical, grief diet, lovelorn way. That “I can’t stop listening to ‘Sail’ by AWOLNATION on repeat” kind of way. The self-consuming survivor aftermath of a broke down relationship kind of way.

I mean the “I’m not ticking. I’m not pumping. I’m not fucking humping along anymore” kind of way.

39 is young for a heart to dissect and peel apart. To aortically depart from the norm. Her body so tired that even hope of an import made the tissue teary and weary and grave. Thinking of all that work it became impossible to breathe.

That moment when a hearts break for real.

And those who remain? The physically unbroken? We’re left with that flash of understanding that fades too quick: Hold tight to people we love, make the zine, take the trip, do all the things do them now, do them before you can’t. Thanks for the kindness you showed me Deborah.


I recently pulled a romantic comedy move and slipped a handsome stranger my digits. I was a first-timer to this strategy and it was kind of thrilling. He responded to my smooth moves and in our ensuing text flirtation I almost texted him embarrassing family photos because iPhone + clumsy thumbs = super smooth . So smooth, right?  Here’s what happened.

I was having tea in the Mission, just minding my own business. Except every time I got up, this foxy guy made eye contact with me and smiled. He was super cute— all laid-back business-y in his tailored plaid shirt, funky oxfords, and sexy beard. Yes please.

As we were leaving, I had the unexpected urge to give him my number. I normally would never, but I thought what do I have to lose? Besides my pride, of course. But I was feeling rambunctious, it was a Friday afternoon, and I was wearing big ass hoops and low-slung cords. Why the hell not?

Outside my moxie dwindled. Seems the romantic comedy scene I had in my head didn’t involve me having to actually psyche myself up for the play. For 20 minutes I screwed around on my phone, reorganized the entire contents of my bag, applied lip gloss, and gathered some courage.

For once in my life I didn’t have a pen or paper. Rummaging through my shit, I found peachy nude lip liner and a ticket stub from my de Young museum visit the day prior.

The scenario was becoming even more sexy and glamorous than the idea of actually dating him. I was enamored with my mystery note in peach lip liner. Even better than the 80’s glam of the lipstick was that the ticket stub for was for the de Young’s dazzling Bulgari jewel exhibition.

Note in hand, I marched my booty back in there, and headed straight toward him, making eye contact the whole way. I have to tell you this was very unnerving. I like attention if I’m trying to make people laugh, not if I’m trying to sultry walk them into romance. Stopping dead on in front of his table I deposited the note. “This is for you.”  He gave me a big smile and said thank you as I turned tail and bolted for the door.

Exhibit A for context:


Translation: “I think you’re cute. You should call me and see if we get along.”
(I photoshopped my digits cause I heard you shouldn’t put your private biz on the internet.

10 minutes later I got a text:

Him: Annie?

Me: Haha! You can read my lipstick! Didn’t have a pen.

Him: Yes, tough read, but very admirable job, given the medium. Flattered that you left the note. I live in Austin and leave tomorrow, so linking up could be tough. (Then he wrote more about how he used to live in SF and details, details, blah, blah.)

Me: Haha. Cool. I recently moved here from Austin! Have fun on your travels!

Him: Thanks, have we met in Austin? You seemed kind of familiar.

Me: Maybe? Who knows!

Him: It’s Austin, so probably ; ) Have a great day. Might be out later in the Mission with some friends.

This is where I was composing an incredibly cool and clever response which involved several drafts and re-reads. I was deleting draft #4 of my response when my unwieldy thumbs somehow “pasted.” The item they pasted?  A 20 photo album of a recent family hot air balloon trip. Awesome. Frantically trying to erase, I almost hit Send. That might have gone down as the most fabulously awkward flirtation attempt ever. A mere text of photos but underlain with the message that, “I know we’re just ships in the night, handsome man, but I want you to feel as close to me and my parents as I feel to you. What I mean to say is, well, I love you. So much. If only you had been part of this joyful celebration with my family and I—perhaps even proposing marriage mid-flight!” I should be a dating coach.

Instead I sent this cool Miss Cucumber response back:

Me: Sweet. Maybe I’ll run into you. And that’s hilarious that you’re from my old orbit. I’ve never done that before (the note) and it was kind of fun.

Him: Glad to be your test run. It works for you. Have a great day.

Next missive from him came in at 1:27am:

Him: Hey hey

I didn’t answer, because really, it was too late and cutie with a beard wasn’t on the menu for a 1:30am booty call. And if we’ll recall, I had instructed him to call me and he had clearly texted. Can’t stand a man that can’t take instruction.

What have we learned besides the fact that I shamelessly overuse exclamation marks and Hahas? Turns out the situation was perfect. I got to be risky and frisky with great return and no actual work of having to go on date with a stranger. Win-win-win.

Tell me your tales of random flirtation.


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