Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas

I woke up with strong indications of having been finally overcome by the traditional Christmas cold, so it was with even less enthusiasm than usual that I set out to the grocery store, whch for me, even on a good day seems to be a the sort of quest worthy of a nice 200 stanza epic poem. Trader Joe's was bustling, of course, and I did allow myself to indulge in a little self-pity as I filled my cart with juice and soup and Airborne, while everyone else's cart was brimming with wine and chocolate and poinsettias.

I headed home feeling exhausted and snuffly, but somewhat optimistic about my ability to face the immediate future now that I had Kleenex, tangerines, and spicy apple cider. Then, about a block from home, right there in the crosswalk was a sight that banished the dreariness from my heart and filled it with Christmas joy. Because what really signals Christmas so much as a little blonde girl skipping across the road all dressed in her red...Spider Man suit? Complete with spidery face paint.

Ho ho ho, little girl.

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

And the winner is...

A group of girls is sitting together on the floor surrounded by their backpacks, laptops, and various outerwear. As I walk by, one looks up, eyes wide with excitement and announces to her friends, "I've been playing classical music so long, I now have a favorite composer! And it's not Bach. [suspense-building pause] ...It's Chopin!"

Friday, December 09, 2005

English Major Saves the Day

I often despair that I do so little writing as part of my job, so today was a refreshing change. A colleague came up and said "Um...Can I ask your opinion? A group of parents wants us to attach this little poem to some treats they are leaving for the seniors. I'm thinking no." She extended a piece of paper to me.

The poem:

Ho! Ho! Ho! It's so sweet to be free.
Start right now and...

Yikes. You really can't give a poem that ends with all caps EAT ME to a bunch of high school seniors. Especially when you're planning to attach it to a chocolate Santa. Let's just leave Santa out of that sort of thing. Additionally, what does eating have to do with freedom? Not an enormous amount. Anyway, I have offered an alternative, equally bad, but less offensive version in which I have even allowed them to keep Santa's hearty greeting:

Ho! Ho! Ho! Vacation is great!
Start your holiday now with
This festive chocolate.

When dealing with teenagers it is less painful to be mocked for a near rhyme than for sexual innuendo. Really. I promise.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Superheroes beware!

I just read of something which claims to be a printing technique (in this case, for putting a design on a mug), but I think we all know what's really going on here. Thermo-sublimation is clearly something worked up by one Arch Villian or another to thwart the powers of good in the universe. It involves subliminal messages of evil. Along with heat. Very bad combination. Superheroes! Do not be fooled by this "mug printing" disguise! Be ever wary!

Oh. And thank you, as always, for keeping us safe here in the Metropolis.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


You may have been wondering how to create the cutest thing in the whole world and I just found out, so I thought I'd let you know.

Here's what you need:

1. A drizzly day
2. A preschool class
3. A small field trip
4. The buddy system, reinforced by hand holding
5. A brightly-colored rain slicker for each child
6. The hood of each slicker decidedly up

Then you just stand about a block away and view the procession from behind. Voila.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Operation Flush Em Out

I am in the bathroom stall at work. On top of the toilet paper dispenser there is a green plastic soldier who seems to be crawling toward me stealthily and painfully. With his belly flat on the ground and his assault rifle held aloft he can use only his feet and elbows to propel him forward. I don't know where the rest of the platoon is, but he seems determined to carry out the mission alone. I anticipate the toilet will be a US territory by dawn.

Monday, November 21, 2005


A young friend of mine who is a funnier writer than I am sends me this email message, an excerpt of which I am quoting here entirely without her knowledge or permission. Shhhh. Don't tell anyone.

"i'm in norway. so that's truly where the cool kids are. and the babies. and the large stacks of meat. and the cheesecakes with neon yellow grape studded jello. and the bracelets about christ. see what i mean? tomorrow we go to the graveyard and the mall. yesterday was my grandpa's 80th birthday party. highlights included my 9-year-old cousin singing a pop song about jesus, and a rather elderly man giving an exceedingly long speech about sheep (and no, the sheep were not a metaphor)."

Monday, November 07, 2005

New knowledge

A woman came to school to speak about her work in Zimbabwe. Here are two things I've learned.

1) Many men in Zimbabwe have exciting names. Among them, Jealous, Xmas, July, Doubt, Aloicious, and Blessing.

2) If you have a garden in Zimbabwe, it is likely that elephants may wander in to snack on it. This sort of puts the wandering deer of my childhood into perspective.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Yeah right

I was reading a little article today in which the author references numerous exotic foodstuffs. Among them were truffles from Pierre Herme. "Hmmm," I thought, "I like Paris. I like chocolate." So I went to the website, which features a video of a Pierre Herme runway show. I admit that the idea of gorgegous, expensive desserts having their moment to "do that little turn on the catwalk" has some appeal to me. However, having no legs of their own, the desserts must be carried--in this case by half-naked zombie-like models. Every so often these creatures take a little dip of mousse or what have you and lick it from their fingers with maximum sultriness. I laughed aloud. Whatever fantasy they may wish to inspire, one thing we can all be sure of is that these girls do not spend a lot of time eating dessert. Their asses are pretty much on full view and they are not asses that are familiar with Pierre Herme's oeuvre.

Later in the video the man himself shows up. Ah ha. Now there is someone who looks like he knows his gateaux.

Monday, October 24, 2005


I'm telling you, I just can't get enough of old time radio.

Philip Marlowe says, "As I drove back to Hollywood, I tried to figure it out, but I had about as much to work with as Gypsy Rose Lee after the third encore."

Monday, October 17, 2005

The cool kids

My boyfriend and I go to a wedding reception where he knows no one but me and I know no one but him and the bride. During the cocktail hour, we stand together, drinks in hand, surveying the other guests who are in happy little chatting clusters. Near the buffet table I spot a group of guys who are decidedly unlike the rest of the crowd. One guy has a tattoo on his neck and carefully sculpted facial hair, one guy sports a buzz cut and frilly pink tuxedo shirt, one guy wears a hint of arrogance like an accessory along with his slightly disheveled blazer; he seems somehow Italian. Of all the people in the room, these are the people I want to talk to.

"Check out the cool kids in the corner," I say to my boyfriend. "Those are my people." It's odd that I would say this since I am not myself a cool kid, but I felt a kinship nevertheless.

We are ushered into the dining room which is set up with dozens of tables for ten. The happy chatting groups select tables where they will become happy dining groups. The two of us wander around like orphans as I search desperately for the cool kids. Finally, as tables fill all around us, I give up my quest and we stake a claim at a table beside two perfectly pleasant couples.

When we get into the buffet line a few minutes later, dinner music is already playing. I look up at the stage and start laughing. The cool kids are all in the band.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Plays galore

Here I am wielding my illusory cyber power yet again.

PlayGround is back. Are you some mysterious stranger out there who's never heard of PlayGround? Well, today is your lucky day, my anonymous friend.

One topic.
36 playwrights.
Four days.

Six plays selected.
One night only.
Fun, fun, fun.

Monday, October 17. 8pm. Berkeley Rep. You can buy tickets for Monday or, better yet, subscribe. It's a crazy bargain.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Desert Mountain Marsh Road

I am addressing envelopes and have just found that someone lives on Reedland Woods Way. You know, life is full of tough choices, but I think it's best to stick with one major geographical feature per street name.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Rapunzel, Rapunzel

I am getting things out of my trunk when with much clattering and many cries of "dude!" three skater boys tumble out of the the house across the street. There is some experimental skating, but all is not well.

"Dude! Dude!" The boy yells up to the open second-story window. Another remarkably similar shaggy-haired youth appears. There is some discussion about how Dude #1 has unwittingly hit the street with an undersirable board. They plan an exchange. Dude #2 suggests that, instead of coming all the way back upstairs, Dude #1 should throw the unwanted board up, and he (D#2) will throw another one down. Although I never considered it before, I have to say that it's impressive to see someone throw a skateboard straight up two stories. Dude #1 gets it high enough for Dude #2 to catch on his second try. The first-floor windows remain intact. Nice work, dude.

Dude #1 specifies his needs "Dude. Gimme the one in the hall. Not the really big one. The little one with the fat wheels. It's the only other one."

So, apparently he only has three.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Teen antics

Conversation overheard in the hall:

Girl: Hey guys! Yesterday? I went to Target? And I got this big pack of lacerations that I'm going to put all over my face.

Boy: Oh. For, like, Halloween?

Girl: No! Tomorrow!


P.S. Who knew you could buy lacerations at Target?

Revolutionary union

Ben and Stephanie got married this weekend. To suit their own needs and they re-imagined the part of the Jewish ceremony where Seven Blessings are read and the bride circles the groom seven times. (This is daunting when the bride is wearing a floor-length dress and is, well, a shiksa.) Instead, they read aloud what they referred to in the ceremony program as the Seven Core Values of their marriage.

But secretly? Between themselves? They refer to it as The Manifesto.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


Anne asked if we found that our Netflix service was declining over time. She suspected that it was part of their business model to be great at the start to lure you in and then progressively get worse and worse. She based this on the fact that she was regularly receiving the "Have you received your movie yet?" emails two days before the arrival of her film. She wondered if they were taunting her.

We told her, basically, that she is crazy. Not that we don't love her and all, but seriously. We have no problem with Netflix. We get our movies and our corresponding emails in a timely fashion. Netflix is not engaged in a conspiracy against us.

The next day I received one of the numerous French movies in my queue. The film was, indeed, in French as anticipated. The subtitles and all menu text, however, were in Chinese.

The plot thickens.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Oh. Well, bad example then.

I am walking down Valencia Street and two people are walking behind me. I tune into the conversation they've obviously already been having for a while.

Woman: So, I tell her, "You can't just say that. You can't just tell me that Tim is a rapist. I mean I know Tim. That would be like me just coming up to you and telling you Seth is a rapist. I mean you would know that's not true because you know Seth." But then she told me that actually he is.

Man: A rapist?

Woman: Yeah. One time. And apparently they're okay with that.

Friday, September 16, 2005

My new best friend

I am at one of those big warehouse-type stores with two colleagues. We are buying things in bulk for school events. In addition to endless paper cups and plates, I have put at least ten boxes of assorted teas in the cart. The cashier is swiping the boxes one by one over the price scanner without incident. Until the Tetley's English Tea Time, that is. As he scans it, the machine makes a loud repeated beeping sound, more like an alarm than the sound of a price registering.

"Oh no!" I say. "Look out! It's poison tea. Alert! Poison tea!" (I frequently think I'm amusing to strangers. I may be misled in this.) He gratifies me by chuckling.

He holds the small box over his head and shouts across the store "Hey Mike! Can I get a price check on this?" "What is it?" Mike yells back. The cashier squints up at the box for a moment looking for identifying marks. He shrugs and yells back "Poison tea!"

Monday, September 12, 2005

Sign me up

Today was the school club fair. Club representatives stood in a line in the gym and made brief summary statements to entice students to join their clubs.

A boy takes the mic. "For those of you who think there's more to life than cooking, there is the Martha Stewart Club. Because there is also gardening and home decorating."

He hands the mic down the line. Two Asian boys step forward. One is holding a boom box which he never turns on. The other speaks "Hey. Yeah, so we're starting the Asian Club. You don't have to be Asian to join. We'll teach people how to use chopsticks. And we're giving out sandwich cards."

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Three-day weekend

When I returned home late, late last night after being away for the Labor Day weekend, I was thrilled to find an open parking place a block from my house. What's more, it was a Tuesday street cleaning spot. Cool. No need to wake up in a car-moving panic in the morning.

Oh. Wait. The realization slowly dawned. Tomorrow is Tuesday.

Mondays off throw me every time.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Why to date a Frenchman

My boyfriend and I are at a restaurant studying our menus. He puts his down before I do.

Me: Qu'est ce que tu desires?
Him: Toi.

Good answer.

Thursday, September 01, 2005


In the novel I just finished, the protaganist's mother is declining into dementia. Every time she goes for a check-up, the doctor asks her various things to establish how far gone she is. The usual: her name, the date, the name of the President, and then, invariably, she is asked to count backwards from a hundred by sevens.

By sevens? For the record, in case this skill is ever the thing that stands between me and the loony bin, I just want to state that I can't count backwards by sevens. Not now and probably not when I'm on the brink of senility either.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Wish you were here

This is from an email sent to my friend by a friend of hers who has recently been in Peru. I have no right whatsoever to reproduce it here, but am doing it anyway.

"We mostly had perfect weather on the trek, except for the couple times it hailed and the one night it snowed, and one of our donkeys died."

But where can I get MORE copies?

This morning when I left my apartment I noticed that there was a book propped against the wall. It was in a little nook on the landing where someone would have had to climb the stairs to put it. I looked a little closer and saw that it was entitled Jennifer and the Master: A Unique Erotica by John Vandeveer. In the corner of the cover someone had written in ballpoint pen "Free Copy." I'm hoping it was John Vandeveer himself and that this is just a small part of his vast "unique erotica" guerrilla marketing campaign.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Rebellion brewing

Believe me, I know I'm losing my audience. I realize that it is essentially my job to continue to provide you with amusing morsels and that I've been slacking. I got a testy email on the subject today. What can I tell you, people? I got nothing. Truly. I've been trying to think of something. I loiter about in restaurants and on street corners in the hopes that someone will say something eccentric, but it's been a dry time.

Today a colleague was interviewing an insurance salesman in my office (I don't know why. She does have an office of her own.) At one point I thought he said something about the policy covering "out of body expenses" for the insured. I think it was just sloppy diction, but I hope not. I'd be curious to know how pricey those out of body expenses are.

In other news, while at my friend's house for a southern dinner (which basically means that everything involved staggering amounts of Crisco) her water heater sort of exploded and shot flames out the top. No damage, but I think we barely escaped with our lives. A Crisco-based meal and an errant open flame? This is not a good combination.

That's all I have for you. Please don't storm the castle. I'll try to do better. I may dust off the last Italian anecdote for you.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Okay. I'll give you that one

Often I am too curmudgeonly to be excessively charmed by the antics of animals. However, when I walked out into yet another grim August day (is it fog? is it rain? hard to say), and saw the neighborhood Great Dane gambolling down Cole Street with an excited Dachshund, I admit it. It was joy inducing.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Some might call that proof

My formerly surefire "are you a crazy person" test must be updated to take into account the new proliferation of hands-free cell phone devices. That is, many people who appear to ranting to themselves as they walk down the street are actually having a phone conversation. Annoying perhaps, rude perhaps, but not necessarily crazy.

In any case, I assumed the young woman with the pink hair and tattered jacket walking up Masonic this morning was a cell phone person. Ah, but no. Wrong category. Plenty of chatting one. As she walked past me she treated me to this little snippet of song:

"Dear father, if Jesus esists, how come I sucked his dick? Yeah, yeah yeah."

Now, for all I know, this is some major hit and not the ramblings of a deranged street person. Nevertheless, crassness aside, the lyric has a significant flaw in my opinion. After all, is it possible to suck the dick of someone who doesn't exist?

Just wondering.

Hello from the construction zone

So, it's true that no one is required to wear a hard hat at work anymore, but there are new challenges.

Today's question: How long does the fire alarm need to go off during a "test" before it's pretty clear that it's working just fine?

The new fire alarm goes off in blasts of three deafening buzzes, followed by a little pause, then three more deafening blasts. Apparently this can continue for any length of time--five minutes feeling roughly equivalent to an hour. In case you are deaf (which at the moment seems a pleasant fate) there is also a very bright flashing light--the kind that I think would induce an epileptic fit in some.

Morale, needless to say, is very high.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


I know. Promises, promises. Where are these oft discussed anecdotes? I've been back from my travels for nearly a month now. You probably don't even remember I was gone, but I was. And amusing things happened while I was elsewhere. Really. The thing is that I'm terribly lazy. I don't mean to be, but there it is.

Amusing Anecdote #1

One day, Marja and I got up in the morning and headed off to the tourist office. True, we had nothing particularly urgent to do there, but the fact of an actual plan involving a specific destination made us feel rather busy and important. I promised Marja that we would find her some coffee on the way, which seemed a certainty except that the route to the tourist office seemed strangely devoid of cafes. When we finally passed a tabacco shop/bar there was no time to waste. There was a bit of a caffeine emergency in the works.

It was an ideal location, in fact, because although I don't drink coffee, I did need stamps. I left Marja at the bar and I headed to the back where, by speaking Close-Enough Italian, I was able to purchase some francoboli for my carte postale to the Stati Uniti. When I came back, Marja was standing at the bar* drinking her cappuccino.

* NOTE: My Italian teacher particularly stressed the important fact that in Italy you may either drink your coffee standing at the bar, or you may drink it while seated at a table. BUT BE WARNED: you will pay a great deal more for sitting at the table. This was imparted with the gravity of a true insider tip. Clearly no self-respecting local would pay the exorbitant "table sitting" surcharge. However, being tourists with little or nothing to do other than sit at a cafe table, we were generally willing to pay up the extra Euros. But obviously, on a morning where we had such big plans, there was no time for that sort of thing.

"Hey." I said. "Look at you. Standing at the bar. How'd it go?"
"Well," she said, "it went pretty well up until he asked me if I wanted to drink it here or at a table. At least I think that's what he said. I just smiled and shook my head a lot."

While standing there, I decided I would get a pastry. Fortunately, I knew how to say "I would like a pastry," so that was pretty easy. The man got it for me and I was prepared for him to tell me that it was 70 cents, because, well, that's how much it was. Whatever he said though, was something entirely different. I didn't really concentrate on what it was, I just thought "Ah ha! This is the part where he asks me where I want to eat this. Luckily, Marja forewarned me." Immediately, the word for "here" evaporated from my brain, so I just kept saying it in English. "Here," I say. "Here. Um...Here." I began pointing elaborately from above my head to indicate the very place I was standing. "Here. Right here." I got the giggles. I looked at Marja helplessly. This seemed to go on for ten minutes.

Finally, the bewildered man furrowed his brow and says "A Lucca?" In Lucca? Well, yes. I would like to eat it in Lucca, but far more specifically, I would like to eat it right here, standing at your bar, not even taking one step toward your very expensive tables. I was puzzled. He was puzzled. He turned to his son for aid. The son slowly, but very clearly translated his father's original question. "Where are you from?"

Oh. So I've been insisting for ten minutes that I'm not only from Lucca (despite the fact that I don't speak Italian), but that apparently I was born right here on your bar? Here in your tabbacco shop? Yeah. Well, I was just kidding.

Here's your 70 cents.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

A second butcher's hook

Driving home I saw a billboard that said "You bet your Daisy Dukes." Immediately I thought "Oh, it must be rhyming slang." I spent the time waiting at the red light trying to guess what Daisy Dukes rhymes with that would make sense in a beverage ad. I was coming up blank.

As the light turned green, I turned to give it a second look and discovered that it actually said "Bust out your Daisy Dukes." Oh. Short shorts. Summer. Refreshing drinks. Got it. I shook my head and chastized myself for having read something entirely wrong.

It was several blocks before the more relevant thing dawned on me. This is California. We don't HAVE rhyming slang.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

T-shirts of Italy

As promised. Now, I realize that t-shirts may not seem like a fascinating subject, but that's because you just don't know. They are costly or I would have purchased them. And framed them.

There's really no need to editorialize (although you know how hard it is for me to stop). The beauty stands on its own.

Without further ado, I present: T-shirt Text of Lucca.

Shirt #1

Wear the art in the free style's paradise

Shirt #2 (envision purple puff paint)

SRF all waves in board time

Shirt #3 (quotes theirs, not mine)

Marcello "Come Here"

Shirt #4


Shirt #5 (this is a long one--take a deep breath)

Red and yell
blends standy
jovial and na

Look yo the rose

rose carry
a lot of body

yellow roses
usually stand
for joy and gladness



What else is there to say? Wear the art in the free style's paradise, my friends. And tussie mussies to you all.

Monday, August 01, 2005

No more lollygagging

Yesterday I received a postcard of Vienna that had been mailed from Estonia. It said (among other things) "Hope all is swell with you and your blog. Look forward to checking back in..." Dear god. Thre are people in ESTONIA who are thinking about my blog. This is a high-pressure situation. Clearly, the laziness must be beaten into submission. I cannot fail you, the faithful reader. Who knows how many anonymous Estonians may be fans of mine. Food for thought indeed.

You want travel anecdotes? (Say yes. It will make the fact that you're about to get travel anecdotes less painful.) There are definitely some chart-topping tales, but I'm not going to give them all to you today. We're going to ration them. Sort of more like Hannukah than Christmas.

Today's feature: Miscellaneous facts

1. I met a woman on the plane from Paris to Pisa who was French but lived near Lucca. She was impressively multi-lingual and terribly helpful. Upon meeting Marja in Pisa, she became alarmed and drew me aside to tell me that Marja AT ALL COSTS must purchase a particular sunscreen or risk imminent death. She explained that this particular sunscreen had the powder of it that was not chemical and would not change its properties when mixed with persperation. Marja and I henceforth referred to it as the Powder of A Thousand Virgins, but I think it was actually something else. We could never find it in the pharmacy, but we both managed to escape the Tuscan sun sunscathed despite using sub-par American sunscreens.

I have always considered myself quite pale. Skin cancer runs in my family. Nonetheless, Madame Toussaint expressed no concern for my skin whatsoever. She did not even gently suggest that I get the Sunscreen of 1,000 Virgins, let alone insist. Apparently though, compared to Marja, I appear swarthy and perhaps leathery. Now that I am also thirty-five, I do not find this encouraging.

Nevertheless, we are immensely grateful to Mme. Toussaint and I therefore give you this link to her rental property, Le Glicine We did not stay there ourselves, but I'm sure it's nice. Just in case you find yourself in Lucca and Apartment La Mansarda is unavailable. Which it will be because Marja and I are going back as soon as possible.

2. The people of Lucca do not seem to go to bed before 4am.

3. Yet, at 7:30am, the people of Lucca seem to be quite eager to begin driving small trucks which may or may not be towing running lawnmowers and motorcycles and carrying loads of marbles and broken glass. We never actually saw these trucks, mind you, but we heard them.

4. Lucca is allegedly a pedestrian city, but we spent a lot of time leaping out of the way of cars. This is to say nothing of the bicycles.

5. To save you having to look it up as we did, I'll just tell you now that the Italian word for mosquito is zanzara. Sadly, you will probably need to know the plural: zanzare. If you react as violently to zanzara bites as I do, you may find that it is helpful to put ice on them to reduce the swelling. The Italian word for ice is ghiaccio.

6. The most beautiful confections in Lucca are at Cafe di Sima.

7. Despite being a very small city, Lucca hosts what Marja refers to as the Monsters of Rock festival. Crosby, Stills, and Nash; Jamiraquoi; Lauryn Hill; and James Brown among others will all be rocking Lucca this August. Unfortunately, we were only there for the opening performance by some random Italian man who performs nothing but Ray Charles covers. He is neither black, nor blind, nor dead. I know. We didn't get it either. However, we did get to stand next to a cute policeman during the concert. We also ate gelato.

8. There really is no such thing as bad gelato. This is not true of pizza. Another useful tip: limoncello is very bright yellow which makes it strangely appealling like candy. Don't be fooled. It's stronger than you are. It laughs at you as you slide under the table.

9. If you have a very small wrist and you wish to buy a watch in Italy, just forget about it. All watch faces are the approximate size of Flava Flav's clock.

10. If you are secretly in love with me and planning to propose, I would very much appreciate it if you would purchase the ring from Carli on the Via Fillungo. It is the only store that has ever filled me with jewelry lust. I still wake crying because I did not purchase various antique diamond brooches for 6,000 Euros.

Tomorrow's feature: The t-shirts of Lucca.

Monday, July 25, 2005


There should be a special word that means "the dread experienced by one who is about to go to bed in a room where, during the previous itchy, sleepless night, one has tried and failed to kill the mosquito." I'll bet the Germans have one.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


I'm leaving you. It isn't you, it's me.

Vado in Italia domani.

I will be back in three weeks, though, so let's not get too emotional about the whole thing. Who knows? Maybe something astonishing will happen and I'll hasten to an internet cafe to tell you about it. Frankly, I don't think anyone will be too broken up about the silence. I'm pretty sure that Marja is the only one who reads this and she'll be with me.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Oops. Switch that.

I was just intrigued by an online headline that I read as "Who's having 15 babies? Surprising facts."

Unfortunately (or fortunately I guess if you were the mother to be), it actually says "Who's having babies? 15 surprising facts."

That's far less interesting. Plus I already know the answer: all my friends. And there's nothing too surprising about it. I mean, they're married and all.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Their dark secret

As I walked out of Whole Foods with my organic nectarines and special prawn wraps, I passed a Whole Foods employee who was headed back into the store. In one hand, he held a cardboard tray with four 20-ounce sodas and in the other, a large plastic bag. The cups and the bag were emblazoned with two words: Taco Bell.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Nothing but the best

I really appreciate the lengths to which TrenItalia has gone to expidite my train travel to Italian airports. I can't tell you how many times I've been on my way to the airport wishing I could in suit relax and avoid all those darn tails. Grazie mille, TrenItalia!

The Local Transport of Trenitalia has instituted connections (direct and metropolitan services) between the cities of Palermo , Rome and Pisa and you respect airports in order to allow to you the travellers to save on the transfer costs and to optimize to the maximum the times of distance, travelling comfortable, sure, fast and in suit relax, avoiding the tails and the automotive traffic.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Bad guys

I love Trevor at Bank of America because when he was trying to explain exactly how fraud had been perpetrated with my stolen checks he got into some murky syntactical waters filled with too many pronouns. Finally he said, "Okay, let's just call them the Bad Guys. The Bad Guys took your check into the branch..."

Dear Bad Guys,
Everything's been canceled so it's of no use to you anyway. However, if you want to keep my credit cards as a souvenir, you may. There are some things I'd like back, though. Could you please send me my Free Sandwich card, my old drivers license from Oregon (because I was just 23 and it is one of the only pictures I've ever liked of myself), that gift certificate that my brother gave me for Christmas (I was saving it until I found just the right sweater), and also my childhood library card? Oh, and while you're at it, could I have my wallet back? It's magenta and turquoise and probably doesn't match your stuff, but I really liked it. Thanks.

Oh, by the way, your mother is terribly ashamed of you. Please mend your ways.

Someone who used to have no opinion of you, who now wishes you ill

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


Learning another language is a tricky business. Pitfalls galore. For example, I learned in my Italian class that "piano" means floor of a building, slow, and (unsurprisingly) piano. My friend Marja reasonably asked me, "So, how do you say 'move the piano slowly to the third floor'?" I have no idea.

Along these lines, I was dining with a Frenchman last night who inquired what I would like to eat. I replied "La soupe et le connard." That would be fine if indeed that meant "the soup and the duck," but it doesn't. Duck is "canard."

I actually said, "I'll have the soup and the asshole."


Tuesday, June 14, 2005


One of the many rules for working in a construction zone is that open-toed shoes are forbidden. Nevertheless, I am wearing my new blue skirt (skirts I think are also forbidden, but I only own one pair of jeans and cannot reasonably wear them every day for three months) and I wanted to bring out the blue sandals for their debut appearance.

About ten steps into the walk it became clear that these sandals had only been pretending to be comfortable and, now that they were safely out of the store, they could reveal the sandpaper/knife edge thing they'd been saving for the top of my foot. Despite the fact that I was carrying a pair of perfectly serviceable close-toed shoes to put on at work, I continued to wear the torture sandals for ten blocks. Long enough, as it turns out, to draw blood. From both feet. But they did match my skirt. So that's something.

Friday, June 10, 2005

My secret shame

Just now I bought a loaf of sourdough. Having missed lunch, I'm feeling peckish, so I thought I'd just tear off the heel of the loaf to snack on on my way home. I reached in, clutched the end, exerted force, and--nothing happened. After a block, I gave up.

That's right people. In a battle of strength, I have been bested by...bread.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Calico Hard Hat

The whole working in a construction zone thing continues to be a wonderous and varied experience. I am pleased to report that this is the first day since being in this building that my fingers are finger-colored rather than blue. How can this possibly be true, you ask? Simple. I was so embarrassingly bitchy in the staff meeting on Monday (Staff shares a hearty chuckle about our shared plight in sub zero temperatures; I interrupt saying "Yeah. No. It's actually not funny. At all. I have spent the day wrapped in a blanket. Not okay.")that they have run 600 feet of extention cord to some viable power source such that I can be provided with a space heater. Positive reinforcement of bad behavior. Bolstered by these immediate favorable results, there's no telling what I'll ask for next.

Meanwhile, anywhere beyond my office door continues to be a frosty wasteland where my more polite/stoic colleagues scuttle around clad in various down-filled outerwear. There are plenty of ladders and exposed electrical cords. There's a half-finished bathroom. There are boarded-up windows.

Yet, among all these things, the one that makes me feel most abandonned is perhaps the jug of water that sits alone on a table in the hallway. It is one of those large containers that is meant to be turned upside down on a water cooler--that center of office life. Of course, we don't actually have a water cooler. Therefore, our water jug sits upright and has been fitted with a spout and a pump. To use this is to instantly evoke Little House on the Prairie. I can't shake the feeling that Pa has just sent me out back to fetch a pail of water for Ma.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Rock on

A homeless (or possibly just miscellaneously crazy) guy has set himself up across the street from the school. Presumably, he's chosen this paricular spot because it affords such a great view of the building construction. And everyone knows there's nothing more entertaining than watching people shuttle debris out of a constuction site into a dumpster. He is sitting on a little raised ledge that marks the edge of a planted area. In fact, "sitting" may be a generous term; the only reason he is not lying down is because he is being supported by the little fence that protects the plants. He is passed out against it, but it sags under his weight so his body is curved into an uncomfortable looking "C". Beside him on the sidewalk is a sizeable boom box. It is blasting "Born to be Wild."

Rock on, crazy passed out guy. Rock on.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

The beauty of a comma

There's a new Dave Matthews song on the radio right now, the chorus of which is "Stay beautiful baby. I hope you stay American baby. Stay beautiful baby."

So, my question is, where do the commas go? Is this a plea to maintain a strict beauty regimen and to please not revoke citizenship? Or is it simply a request for a lovely American to not wander off?

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Hard Hat Area

I am working in a construction zone. It makes for an interesting change, but isn't super condusive to accomplishing anything. I'm temporarily housed in a conference room while my actual office is being built. It's freezing, but we're forbidden from using space heaters since they will short out our computers. I'm not too sure which bathroom I'm allowed to use and I don't have a garbage can (not that I'd use it in lieu of a bathroom, mind you, I'm just saying.)My boss is alone on another floor so having him sign letters has become a sort of field trip.

Mostly though, we are infurating the construction workers. They do not want us here. Really. We are significantly in their way. I just got an email about a mandatory safety meeting at which I imagine we'll be informed that we are required to wear hard hats and steel toed boots to work. Here's another idea. Why not close the building? I know. It's revolutionary, but since we're embracing a safety-first attitude, why not go the whole way? I guarantee that I'd be safer at home. I promise. It's so safe there that I don't even OWN a hard hat.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Funny or not funny? You be the judge.

Um...raise your hand if you think Laughing Sal is the creepiest thing you've ever seen. I know it's hard to tell from there, but my hand is definitely in the air. The only really good news about the restoration is that Sal is now quite a bit farther away from me than she used to be when she was at the Cliff House.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


I am cleaning out my office (a loathesome task, I assure you, but we're moving and it can't be helped) and I keep coming across scraps of paper on which I've written overheard things students have said in the hall.

1. "If you're going to go to the trouble of saying 'alas' why would you spoil it by saying 'alack'? Why did they even invent 'alack'?"

2. "I'm not that into breathing, connecting to my soul, and standing on one foot. Pilates is more like breathe, connect with your soul, and do a lot of sit ups."

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

There goes the neighborhood

I am not an athlete. You know this. Everyone knows this. I announce it immediately--right after making clear my opinion of cats. This means that I don't ski or skate or bike. This means that I don't play anything that could remotely be considered a "sport," including lighthearted passtimes such as volleyball or, you know, catch.

Thanks to my dear friends Anne and Peter, though, I have found one exception. Bocce ball. I love bocce ball. I'm not even particularly good at it, but every so often the fates allign to make it seem like maybe I am. It's perfect. There's no running, no one throws anything at you, you don't have to catch, you don't have to hit a ball with a stick or anything remotely stick-like.

Imagine my shock then, to read that the proposed construction of bocce ball courts in Clayton has its residents up in arms. Who are these people? And why are they not terribly grateful and excited, one wonders? Instead, they're going around saying things like this:

 "You just worry about what that does to your neighborhood. It brings in a
lot of people that don't obviously live here," she said. But, she added,
"I have nothing against people playing bocce ball."

They're saying other things too.

But perhaps I'm being unjust. It is a slippery slope, after all. It starts with people who don't obviously live there playing a friendly game of bocce and next thing you know they're smoking crack in your garden and corrupting neighborhood youth. And from there, really, can shuffleboard be far behind?

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Even your hands?

How is it that even after all this time I still haven't quite got the hang of sunscreen application? After a windy picnic in the park, I'm in good shape except for a bright red right ankle, three scarlet knuckles on my left hand, and a burning right wrist.

Oh. You mean you have to put it on all your skin?

Thursday, May 19, 2005


On the N, a Dutch man is telling a French woman how he finds himself in San Francisco.
"...That's why I left Holland. I couldn't stand it much longer. In Holland people hold you back. If you act crazy, people are like, "Heck no.'"

Gosh darn those Dutch.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Stop the presses

I heard this on the radio news this morning, "It turns out that a grenade lobbed at President Bush during a visit to Eastern Europe was intended to harm him."

Do you think there was a crack team of experts working that one out?

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


I'm driving home around 10pm. I make a left at the unremarkable intersection of Geary and Stanyan where to my surprise, a full-sized chartered tour bus is double parked. I turn to see what perviously overlooked San Francisco site is worth a visit. It is a Kinko's.

If you're ever in town, don't miss it. Apparently, it's a really good one.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Change of pace

I went to the late show of Millions. There were eight of us in the theatre; six of us alone, and one couple. It was intensely satisfying to outnumber them.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Or suspenders

Dear Young Man I Passed on My Way to Work,

When you find that your pants are so loose that you must clutch several inches worth of waistband in your fist in order to actually walk, it may be time to rethink your style. You might start by purchasing (dare I say it?)a belt.

A Well Wisher

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Maybe later

A beautiful young woman and her friend sit behind me on the N Judah. She is upset about a breakup and her friend tries to console her. First he gives her that thing about how she has to be ready in herself--how she must love herself--before she can be with someone else. I feel confident that she already knows this. He then tells her tales of his own breakup of yore, in which, to hear him tell it, he was the very picture of calm acceptance when his girlfriend up and left him.

"You must live life on life's terms," he says, "not your terms. The reason I'm not upset about Lily is because we had so many good times together. Did you and this guy have good times?" She nods. She is crying. "So, you see?" he continues, "instead of thanking life for letting you have this time with this amazing person, you just want more."

She replies, "You know, I can't focus on his amazingness right now. Right now I need to focus on his blindness, his ineptness, his throwing away the best thing that ever happened to him..." her list goes on as they step off the train.


Bend to my will

It is I, your cyber leader, wielding my cyber power.

Do you live here? Here in the Bay Area? (And don't lie because there are only about ten of you reading this and eight of you do live here.)Well then, you must go the PlayGround Festival. Seven wonderful new short plays by local writers. Brilliant cast. Certainty of liking at least one play. Convenient downtown location. Nothing about it is bad.

The ticket price you say? Please. It's completely reasonable. Besides, I heard the Stones are charging $454 for their concert. It's all about perspective.

I will see you there, or you will know my displeasure.


A group of girls gather in the hall chattering excitedly. It is one girl's birthday.

"Oh my god," says her friend,"you're 18!" They ponder the amazing fact of being a legal adult. So many doors are now open for them. "You can do whatever you want now. Let's...let's...go to a rated R movie!" says the friend. They all laugh.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Join him!

I've been re-reading Join Me! by Danny Wallace. I recommend it to you. Well, most of you. There are probably four or five of you who wouldn't like it, but that can't be helped.
It's full of things like this:

"I rapped on the door. By which I mean I knocked on it, not that I did a little MC-ing. But, if I had've done a little MC-ing, it would've been quite angry stuff, like NWA when they're on about the Rodney King incident. Only I'd have made it less about police brutality and more about old Devon men ripping young folk off with their made-up stories of broken down cars. And there I think you'll find the main difference between British and American crime."

Monday, May 09, 2005

Better not to know

I just received an email from J. Crew.
Subject heading: Introducing our jeweled-critter bikini.
I didn't open it.

Sunday, May 08, 2005


I do believe that this is the blogging temptation that I am meant to resist strenuously. Sadly, I am weak. Therefore I am about to tell you several things about which you will not care at all. Ready?

I was just siting at my dining room table (a misnomer, really, as I have no dining room. However, if I did, I would put this table in it.) which I very seldom do--a pity since it gives me a nice view of the immediate neighborhood. I discovered the following things.

1. It is raining in a very pleasant springlike way. Rainy Sundays fill me with happiness, whereas most Sundays fill me with a poisonous depression, so I am, well, happy.

2. About a year ago, the people across the street made an effort at painting their house (not a bad idea at all), but have gone only from the bottom of the garage to the first floor windowsill. As far as they could reach, in other words. Since then, they have made no effort to improve the top two thirds of the house--either by hiring a professional or purchasing a ladder.

3. These same neighbors suddenly have a baby in the family. I am totally unable to discern if the baby is the brother of the teenage girl, or if he is her son. Most worrying is the fact that despite living directly across from them for years, a nine-month period went by when I did not notice AT ALL that one of those women was pregnant.

4. The inside of my teacup is coated with such an alarming brown stain that, instead of a teaspoon, I am considering laying a toothbrush in my saucer so that I may do some vigorous brushing between sips.

Thursday, May 05, 2005


I feel quite certain that if I were personally acquainted with this bear, my life would be far less tiresome. He is delightful. I thought so when I first came across him in January. Then today, after reading his interview, I have perhaps become even more smitten.

In a seemingly unreated incident, I was just coming up my seldom used back stairs from the back alley where our trashcans are kept. There, on my tiny porch, I found a lone gummi bear, a bit swollen by the rain, but still recognizable. I have no notion where it came from.

How many small ursine encounters is it reasonable to have in one day?

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The good ol' days

To my delight, I have discovered that I have access to old radio dramas via inernet radio. I'm addicted to them.

Phillip Marlow asks "Where're you going?"

The hard boiled dame replies, "I'm going back to my place for an old fashioned cry. Or maybe just an old fashioned. I haven't decided."

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Salmonella in a citrus glaze

I flatter myself that I have a fairly good grasp of the English language. Not the fancy words, maybe, but the basic words I think I've got. Therefore when I see the words "sell by" I am not confused. I assume that the sell by date is the date by which something should be...sold. After that, presumably, there is, say, a two day grace period to actually consume this product. Otherwise it would be a "consume by" date, right?

And yet, I have apparently just purchased ingredients to make a marinade for my rotten chicken. Again. This is never my original intention.

Today is May 3. The sell by date is May 5. Nevertheless, opening the package evoked the gag reflex. Not good. This is now the third time this has happened to me. Perhaps the most troubling aspect of this whole affair is that, having experienced the exact same thing twice before, I continue to be astonished when it happens.

Corn Flakes, anyone?

Monday, May 02, 2005

Try champagne

There is an ad in the New Yorker that reads: "Promise her anything, but give her a chicken..." Under this, in smaller italic print, it says "Fine gifts from France."

Guess what? If you want to give her a fine gift from France, don't give her a chicken. Particularly if you've been promising her all manner of other things. Just trust me on this.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Damn. I was aiming for CEO.

My old bathing suit basically disintegrated along the back seam. I don't really understand why, so I've decided it's because I am getting so strong, developing such an impressive swimmer's back, that my bathing suit couldn't withstand it and began to stretch to its very limit-- Incredible Hulk style. Or it may have something to do with chlorine. Whatever.

I am in the locker room in my brand new bathing suit. There is one other woman there.

"I like your bathing suit," she says.
"Thank you!" I reply brightly.
"You look like a secretary," she says, not without admiration.


Saturday, April 30, 2005

Style Guide

Thank God for MSN. I appreciate their efforts to break down tiresome stereotypes and help women to be the very best that they can be:

Out on the town with the girls

Out on the town often means dressing to the nines, dancing and meeting a lot of men. These evenings call for a look that makes you feel hot (or at least hotter than your friends).

Some guidelines: Sheer shirt with no bra = no good. See-through (or netted) white shirt with black bra = tacky. Backless tank with full front coverage = sexpot. These style tips will help get you into the trendiest clubs -- and get you home with most phone numbers.

On dates

If you really want to go for "the innocent, but really not so innocent" look, try a slipdress. The spaghetti straps will showcase your shoulders and the tight fit on the top will keep his eyes glued to all the right areas.

[So that would be what? Your eyes?]

Working it when you're working out

Men are more inclined to notice those of us who work it right while we are working out. That means showing off the curves, lifting the chest and sucking in the stomach.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

The whole truth

I have agreed to participate in some sort of survey about what radio stations I listen to. Since I only listen to three, it might be easier to just send the nice survey people a postcard with the tiny list and move on. Instead, I am supposed to fill out an elaborate chart for a week. For each day, all day, I must list the station name, the time I start listening and the time I stop. Clearly, the goal here is specificity.

Okay. So, I know the station and I know that I start listening at 7:15am. I'm not sure though how to account for the snooze alarm. I don't think there are enough lines on the chart for me write: on for 45 seconds, off for seven minutes, on for 28 seconds, off for seven minutes...

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Best left unsaid

Last night the Trader Joe's checker carded me for my bottle of four dollar cabernet sauvingon. Because I am 34, I found this delightful and said so.

"I don't know," he said. "People up here look so much younger. It must be the air. The fog or something. [Pause] I used to work at a Southern California Trader Joe's and...."

He just shakes his head at the memory.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


"You searched for '3854 Main, San Francisco, CA 94118', MapQuest did not find this exact address, but found one very similar: '3854 Main Street, San Francisco, CA 94118-3211.'"

Yeah. Thanks. That one will be fine.

Just in case

Every so often someone asks "If they were making a movie of your life, who would you want to play you?" This is usually a question asked at a party or something, not a production meeting, so presumably no one is really working on the screenplay. Oh. The parties aren't in L.A. I forgot to mention that.

Anyway, I always draw a total blank and can think of no actresses whatsoever except maybe Katharine Hepburn who, aside from being dead, wouldn't really be right. It came to me tonight though, and I just wanted to state for the record that I'd like it to be Catherine Keener.

So maybe your people could talk to her people. You know, when you're ready to give it the green light.

Monday, April 25, 2005


I saw The Interpreter last night and I enjoyed it, but here's the thing. I know that Nicole Kidman's character is somewhat mysterious and that she's hiding parts of her past and all, but is she meant to be literally hiding them behind her hair? If not, perhaps a barrette would help. Or maybe one of her multi-lingual colleagues could catch her in the U.N. ladies' lounge and show her how to use those pony-tail elastics to greater effect.

Sunday, April 24, 2005


A friend recounts a tale of a late night drunken exploit from his college days in which he and his friends dragged a bunch of picnic tables from their usual place on campus and used them to block access to the health center.

Me: And then people died, didn't they? Because they couldn't get into the health center for the help they needed.

Him: Yes. Tragically there was an outbreak of meningitis on campus the next day.
People also starved to death because they were unable to picnic.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Winging it

I do not have a cell phone, a digital camera, a microwave, or a television, but now it seems I have a blog. How can this possibly be true? Perhaps I ought to have read more books on the subject before undertaking the responsibility. I know nothing about its care and feeding. I don't even know if this font is within my control. I don't know whether I will be this stutifying forever, or just today. I do know that and I ended up with a silly address. Here I am boldly sallying forth into the unknown world of technology only to be immediately thwarted. No justice. Who knew that all things cereal-related were so outrageously popular? Except raisins, apparently. Raisins I can have.

The entries below are (appropriately) back dated because before today I had what you might call an "imaginary blog." Me? Well, I called it a "piece of paper."

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Deepest Fears

In the mail there is a window envelope imprinted with the words “Imagine being old and alone with nothing but your memories to keep you company.”

I panic thinking it is from a dating service.

Upon realizing that it is a donation appeal from Meals on Wheels, I am overcome with relief and promptly recycle it. I think I now officially qualify as a terrible person.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


A neighborhood family is out for an evening stroll. I am behind them and I see that they have arranged themseves in perfect symmetry. The adults walk on either side of the double stroller in which their toddlers sit side by side. The mother is on the right; her left, or inner, hand holds the stoller push bar. Her husband on the left pushes with his right hand. In their free hands both parents hold cell phones to their ears and carry on separate animated conversations.