Monday, December 22, 2008

Just kidding

See number 9 on this list?


It is here. The Traditional Christmas Cold has arrived. I would stay to complain about it longer, but I have to go gargle with salt water for a while and then go back to bed.


Midnight miscellany

1. Last night at Evany and Marco's party, everyone looked fabulous. It was like my fantasy of my grownup life come true. Men in ties, women in cocktail dresses. Everyone standing in companionable cocktail party clusters chatting attractively. Just what I always wanted.

2. I saw MILK at the Castro this afternoon. It's been playing there nearly a month, so I assumed it would be me and maybe twenty other people, but the line stretched down the block. To see Harvey Milk's story in a sold-out house at the Castro where we all smiled at each other even as our umbrellas dripped unpleasantly on one another's shoes, where people clapped like mad for the organist before the movie even began, where there was (and always seems to be) an enormous feeling of good will... Well. That felt like a huge privilege. I am proud, proud, proud to live here.

3. The bus stop at Haight and Divisadero is strangely convivial late at night. I did not previously know this, but I was there at 2:30am on Friday night (Saturday morning) and just now, as well. People are chatty and bond over the ridiculousness of waiting for a bus in the middle of the night. People go out of their way to not seem scary since after midnight is a wary time among strangers. On Friday (Saturday for sticklers) I was coming home from the klezmer madness party I'd been at (really--accordions, clarinets, a drum, a bass, a viola, a violin, a bed tipped on end to accommodate them all) and the bus didn't come for a very long while. In the end, a man named Amir offered to share a taxi with me and then wouldn't let me pay for my leg of the journey. Thanks, Amir.

4. I have a crush on this band I just heard. Ramon and Jessica. They are charming in such a way that you want to put them in your pocket and keep them with you all the time.

5. Daniel and I were dancing in the lobby of Cafe du Nord as people cleaned up around us. The song over the speakers may have been "You Send Me."

D: I start my house-sitting gig tonight.
K: Oh yeah? You didn't tell me.
D: Yeah. A cat named Jack.

[We continue to dance for a while in silence.]

D: An actual cat. Not a guy named Jack who I call "cat" because I play jazz.
K: Oh. I'm glad you clarified that.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Merry and bright

You know what? I'm happy. I like it.

It's just a little mixed bouquet of things.
1. We had some impressive hail earlier in the week and I was safe in bed at the time, which, of course, is the very best place to be while listening to hail.
2. Having lost my normal gloves, I've been wearing elbow length leather gloves that are the color of boysenberry yogurt.
3. I'm going to an album release party for an accordionist tomorrow and just the very idea of such a thing makes me smile.
4. I bought jolly gifts for my family. Including a book about a chicken who goes on big adventures.
5. People I love are soon to be coming into town from distant places. (Are you listening, Jules? I'm still counting on you.)
6. I feel myself sneaking into my winter break schedule during which I stay up far too late for no apparent reason and then sleep and sleep. Since I still have three days of work, this is premature and makes for bad mornings. But...almost, almost time.
7. Last night, around midnight, while employing phase one of #6, I had some quality time with my Christmas tree. No other lights but tree lights. Just me, the tree, a blanket, some music, and some contemplative gratitude. The tree and I had been waiting to feel that moment of bonding. We're both glad it's come.
8. I haven't wrapped the presents yet and I love wrapping presents.
9. I don't have the Traditional Christmas Cold. (knock on wood, cross your fingers, say a little prayer...)
10. I've just discovered that I like Sigur Ros. I know all the cool kids liked Sigur Ros years and years ago, but what can I tell you? I'm a late bloomer.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My new calling

Last night I was one of the storytellers at Porchlight's Holiday Spectacular and I think I'm hooked. I spent days being stomach-churningly nervous about the whole thing, but a weird calm came over me after the first sentence came out of my mouth. I can't account for it. Even doing readings of my work (which I actually enjoy doing) in front of far smaller groups of people makes my heart pound and my hands shake. But there I was, obliged to use a microphone for the first time in my life, no notes to read from, a whole auditorium full of people and I just clicked into some mystery other self. I talked about dating mishaps and the audience laughed; I quoted the sweet thing my ex said on our first date and the audience "awwww-ed"; I quoted the psycho thing he said the last day I saw him and some woman in the third row said, "Oh, hell no." I got off stage and a man in an aisle seat gave me a high five. I felt like a rock star. Rarely do I feel like a rock star. Plus, since I went first, it meant didn't have to be nervous all night. Instead I got to listen to everyone else. And drink. Sweet.

Another highlight: Chuck Prophet's heartwarming Christmas song, "Jesus Was a Social Drinker."

Seriously. Porchlight. Check it out. It's always a good time. Warning: you will probably fall a little in love with these women. It's very hard not to.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Still not the same

Well, radio friends, we're back in this realm. Yesterday, I heard some ad on the radio that went on and on in the Twelve Days of Christmas vein. It said things like, "On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me seven slices of hot dog." and "On the fifth day of Christmas, my cupboard gave to me five golden potato chips." I thought it was some weird thing about dieting during the holidays. Um...turns out it was a public service announcement about people starving. Unintentionally starving not "oh my god, I'm so fat in these jeans, I'm totally going on the cayenne cleanse" starving. People in our own community who are suffering from poverty and hunger.

And really, if that message can be misconstrued as a weight-loss program, maybe there's a problem with the copy. Just a thought.

Friday, December 05, 2008

You shall bend to my will

Well, people. You can't say I didn't warn you.

It has happened. I am done with school and am now the Master of Humanity. Stay tuned for your orders.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Job sharing

I call from work to check my (nonexistent) messages at home. I'm struck by the fact that the recorded voice that asks me to "please dial my password" is not the voice of the lady who's been politely requesting me to dial my password for years. I find it oddly unsettling. The new lady is no more melodious than the former lady. Why the change? I dial my password. I am then requested to "enter my mailbox number." Amazingly, just as I was really beginning to worry about her, this second request comes from the original lady--the lady who's been keeping watch over my voicemail for most of the last decade. I'm reassured to hear her. All the remaining prompts are spoken by her. Who then is the password lady? Why does she get just one prompt? Is she in training?

I like to imagine that she the sister of the other lady, down on her luck in the economic downturn. Her sister says, "Look, I can't offer you a lot, but I'll try to help you out. You can be in charge of the first prompt. I've got to hang on to the other ones myself, but hopefully it'll be enough to keep groceries on the table."

She's very selfless and unfailingly cheerful. Such an act of sacrifice would be just like her.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Last night I got to sing along with the Decemberists and hundreds of San Franciscans to a song about being swallowed by a whale. And just now, I got carded at Trader Joe's by a guy who's about 15 years younger than me.

Plenty of things to be thankful for.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Good times

It doesn't take a lot to please me, so possibly my good times would only qualify as your so-so times. What can you do?

1. Last night I had to drive home from Berkeley in some sort of mystery condensation (It was a weather condition, not something emanating from my person, nor from my vehicle.) and I wasn't too thrilled about it. But turned out the KFOG was playing ten songs from 1984 and, before I knew it, tiresome drive was magically transformed into Sing Along Spectacular! I became one of those annoying bass-booming cars. Because, you know, when it's the Thompson Twins, you've got to turn it up. Thank God I'm no one's mother. If I were, that child would be dying of embarrassment right this very minute.

Here's the set list:


1. Wang Chung - Dance Hall Days
2. John Cougar Mellencamp - Crumblin' Down
3. The Cars - Hello Again
4. Alan Parson's Project - One Good Reason
5. Frankie Goes to Hollywood - Two Tribes
6. Zebra - Bears
7. U2 - The Unforgettable Fire (Best of Set)
8. Howard Jones - What is Love?
9. Thompson Twins - The Gap
10. Pretenders - My City Was Gone

For me, it was tracks 7, 8, and 9. You?

2. As I was walking home on Saturday afternoon, I encountered a largish group of teenage girls heading down the sidewalk toward me. There were maybe ten of them, all quite lovely, moving en masse. Very close behind them was an unusually tall man with long hair and sunglasses. In my constant need to make order of the world around me, I decided that they were some sort of traveling school group and that he was their chaperone. However, once the girls had passed and the man came fully into view, I saw that he was wearing a full-length billowing cloak attached at his shoulders, knee-high boots, and a large belt to which was affixed a sword and other less readily identifiable metal objects--presumably some sort of additional medieval weaponry. not the chaperone, then?

Or better, the most kick-ass chaperone ever hired by a girls' school. Muggers? That guy scoffs at muggers. Bring on the dragons. Bring on Satan himself.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


I'm listening to gorgeous jazz on the radio--a station that I've never happened upon before. It's fitting as I just got home from a fantastic show by these guys at this cafe (you'll see my table on the far right), where they played one piece by this man who had written it for this circus created by this friend of mine.

I'm feeling that perhaps all art is connected to all other art and that I'm incredibly fortunate to find myself unexpectedly in the middle of it and to know so many people who are involved in creating it. They will definitely be on my Thanksgiving list of things to be grateful for.

In my own small non-audience artistic pursuits, I am doing the final edits on my final project for grad school--ten shiny little humor essays by yours truly. And I've been invited by these fantastic women whom I completely admire to participate in Porchlight next month. Oh my lord. I didn't know my name was up on that site until just this second. Did I just experience a wave of panic? Um...yes. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The end

I have not had a television in my house for the last twelve years, largely because I am a total television addict and there is a risk that I will never read nor speak to another human being again if I allow myself to own one. Instead, I listen to the radio a great deal, watch movies from Netflix on my computer, sometimes read books, and even, from time to time, leave the house. These character-building activities sometimes fall short, however, and last night I found myself wandering around YouTube, like so many before me. I watched some excerpts of 30 Rock, a show I've never seen, but frequently hear mentioned. I noticed that all the clips were coming from here. And so, as though helplessly following the Pied Piper, I too, went there. At which point, my life, as I have so carefully crafted it, ended.

I watched FIVE episodes of 30 Rock after which I unapologetically watched a crappy movie. And I was entirely entertained for over three hours.


Triangulation II

Last time, Haight and Ashbury; this time, Page and Ashbury--a block away.

I pass a small, bespectacled boy with one of those backpacks on wheels, like a little stewardess bag, but backpack-shaped. He is standing on the corner rocking the backpack back and forth to make a "click-clock" noise while he waits for his nanny to catch up. Weirdly though, as I pass him, I am enveloped in a cloud of pot smoke, unusual among the kindergarten crowd. Then I see the bearded twenty-something guy sitting cross-legged on a dirty white duvet on the edge of the curb, about ten feet away from the kid, smoking a joint, staring absently at the parked cars directly in front of his face. Across the street, a man makes his unsteady way down the sidewalk with a futon mattress draped over his head and back. It extends to his knees on either side, almost entirely obscuring him, as though he is hiding or pretending to be a turtle.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


I'm feeling all emotional and full of civic pride--partially it's my own "I Voted" sticker, but more, it's the fact that there are hundreds and hundreds of identical stickers being doled out within blocks of my office. If that's true, imagine how many there are all over the country. Look at all of us. Participating. I was 14th in line when I got to my assigned polling garage this morning at 6:45 (a time, incidentally, when I am very seldom even awake, let alone doing any sort of civic duty), and while I stood there, another twenty people queued up behind me. We might as well have been from Sesame Street such diversity did we represent: all sorts of ethnicities, all sorts of ages, some babies, a dog, and, about six inches to the left of the line, a sleeping homeless couple curled up under an woefully inadequate blanket beside an empty bottle of malt liquor. My neighbors. I felt an enormous affection for all of them.

Vive Barack Obama. Vive all those happily married gay couples. And hooray for every citizen waiting in a seemingly endless line to complete that seemingly endless ballot. Long may we reign.

Friday, October 31, 2008


Halloween snapshot #1. Berekley. 7pm

A very small fluffy bear comes to the door with a slightly taller Oompa Loompa and a fairy princess. "Trick or treat!" they cry. When my friend's two-year-old son gets home from touring the neighborhood with his father, he pronounces that it was "a bit spooky" but that he saw a skeleton that "went up and down." That, apparently, was a highlight of the adventure.

Halloween snapshot #2. San Francisco. 10:30pm

At a stoplight a few blocks from home, I see a man across the street in "sexy Alice in Wonderland" drag with his friend who appears to be a more miscellaneous "sexy girl." They are both in very short dresses and wigs. Miscellaneous faces the traffic, while Alice stands bowlegged, holding himself up unsteadily against a parked jeep while he pees copiously over the driver's side door.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

High school times two

I got to work early yesterday (Absurdly early. To make coffee. Let's not discuss it.) and consequently left early. I drove away at about 3:30. While waiting at a red light, I observed maybe a dozen dudes in the park skateboarding up a storm. I thought, "What the hell? Does NO ONE have a job anymore?" and then I thought "Oh, wait. Maybe they're high school students."

Something is off kilter when my first thought upon seeing a bunch of skaters is that they're unemployed thirty-year-olds. There was a time, not so very long ago, when a pack of guys on skateboards would have been BY DEFINITION teenagers. Not anymore. Not in this town. Oh hell no, not by a long shot.


Walking to work this morning, I found myself behind a small group of students. Another girl approached the group from the opposite direction and greeted a boy with a big hug. This was not a romantic-type situation, this was the heartwarming reunion of two teenagers who had not seen each other since the beginning of first period, about an hour earlier. I remember this about high school: it was very heavy on hugs. We were always exceedingly glad to see one another and/or very sorry to part. Either occasion was hug-worthy. And frankly, although quantity was certainly a primary factor, quality was superior as well. As adults, I fear we have really let this slide. In fact, the last really excellent hug I received was at my high school reunion. Coincidence? I think not. Let's see if we can step it up, friends.

Frankly, I could do with more hugs.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Le retour

I've said it before, but that makes it no less true: it is hard to start again once you've stopped. This is applicable for all manner of things, but for me it most often relates to exercising and writing. The former is so difficult as to be essentially impossible. It has certainly been more than a year since I've done anything that I would call Exercise with a capital e. Fortunately, I am still obliged to walk around the neighborhood from time to time, so my limbs haven't atrophied completely.

The writing? The writing is something else altogether. It nags at me differently, and perhaps more persistently, and it requires more concerted effort to ignore. But, as is evident to the four of you who read this, I have managed to put forth that effort for many weeks. Impressive, is it not?

Now, though, I am sitting here on a Sunday afternoon trying to sneak up on the writing through the blog, since the real task of the day is to work on the scary Big Project--the thing that would be my thesis if it were a thesis. Instead it is a Collection of My Work--a term which never fails to make me chortle. Nevertheless, it exists. Sadly, one of the designated readers has failed to be overcome by the brilliance of this mighty collection and has required many changes of me. So far I have reacted to his notes with A) defensiveness B) profanity and C) procrastination. Time is officially running out for this particular three-pronged approach. It is time to embrace such helpful notes as, "In humor writing, the jokes must be clever and work well." And try to make new jokes that this one man might find more clever or better working. Because, after all, I do wish to actually get the MA after all that homework and thousands of dollars and all. It would be silly to stop now.

Clever. Work well. Man, what a good idea. I'm on it.

Meanwhile, while I haven't been telling you four anything, I have been busy. First, I was sick. Seemingly interminably. But that excuse is weeks out of date now. Otherwise, it's been a cultural extravaganza.

A circus in the park.
A movie in the fog.
Colored glass.
Jazz at the museum.
More and more and more music.
One long play.
Movies indoors.
Six short plays.
Jazz in North Beach.

And, the glorious mistress of the Big Idea, Laurie Anderson. At Homeland on Friday, she held that audience in her thrall. When she played a encore on her electric violin, hundreds of people sat silent, silent. You could feel the listening humming through us all.

You should probably move here. There's a lot going on.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Split personality

I was stuck in traffic yesterday behind a large white Chevrolet pickup truck. On its tailgate it had a large sticker, presumably company provided, that said "Safety is my first goal" with an 800 number that other motorists could use to report that the driver was falling short of that goal or, maybe, to congratulate him on goal achievement. There was another sticker, however. A smaller one, nearer the actual bumper. This one had just two words: Death Ride.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008


This morning on the radio there was a discussion of a nonprofit devoted to curing blindness in third world countries. And, despite this very clear context of BLINDNESS CURING, when they said "eye hospital," I heard "iHospital," which presumably would be Apple's new digital trauma center.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I am about to cross Haight Street. To my left, there is a dude standing in the middle of a vacant parking place pissing mightily onto Ashbury Street; in front of me is a guy blocking traffic and half the crosswalk with his giant SUV; to my right is a white guy with dreadlocks playing a banjo. No wonder the tourists flock to the neighborhood. It's a veritable vacation paradise.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Haiku for the Next Door Neighbors

The crying wakes me.
If I wanted a baby,
I would have my own.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The secret life of trees

Walking to work this morning, I pass a mother on a bike with her small daughter. Riding along on the sidewalk beside them is her larger son, on his own bike with training wheels. As I pass, I hear her say exasperatedly, "Well, that's right, Andrew. It's a good thing you were looking. Trees can jump out at you. That's why you have to keep your eyes open."

Later, I walk down a block where several trees have very recently been planted in the newly repaired sidewalk. In the small square of earth at the base of one sapling,there are three empty fifth bottles: two Hennessy and one Bacardi, and a pair of sparkly gold high heels.


1. Trees can jump out and grab you.
2. Trees, even very young trees, know how to party.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Pot Luck, Grab Bag, Miscellany, etc.

1. I know that I've mentioned this before, but I must mention it again or risk exploding with pent-up anger. The stompy, stompy neighbors. Oh how I weary of them. As I have already told you, there are but two men in my building, but between them they sound like a conquering army. Neither wears shoes in the house (thank goodness), so it is all the more difficult to imagine how they do it. It seems like it would be physically painful to bring one's feet down with such force without shoes. Seriously. It isn't so much that I hear them; I feel them. The man upstairs walks from room to room as though in a great fury and my chair trembles; my dishes rattle. Remember that this is Earthquakeville too, so that kind of thing can cause a great deal of anxiety. My next door neighbor is exactly the same, it's just that he isn't over my head. He shakes everything in my apartment when he is coming and going, since the hall to the building's front door runs alongside my living room. There are also three women in the building. But you'd never know it from listening.

2. My friends hosted an Obama party on Saturday, which was swell of them. They raised a good sum of money and gave us sausages and beer and it was also an almost unbelievably beautiful day. I was on 44th Avenue and I was wearing a sleeveless dress. If you are familiar with San Francisco, your mouth is now agape with astonishment. Sunny skies, lovely people, good cause, tasty snacks. So, all in all, very pleasant. However, once again I found myself in the role of The One Person With Neither Spouse Nor Child. Seriously, it was as though there was a rule that you couldn't come unless you bought a baby or toddler, but everyone was just too polite to tell me. It begins to be clear why none of my friends have managed to introduce me to my future spouse, whoever he may be. To do so, they would have to break up his current marriage. This makes me--well--sad, if you want to know the truth.

Later that evening, feeling lonely and blue, (I know. Believe me, I feel like an idiot admitting it in print, but it has been pretty pervasive lately. Pitiful? Yes. Also true.) I gave myself a stern lecture about actually Leaving the House and going Where There Are People. I cannot bring myself to go to a bar/club alone, so I went to a 10:15 movie. An Italian movie that proved to be quite melancholy, about the strain of financial problems on a marriage. A movie that THREE other people wanted to see that night. Woo hoo! Needless to say, after that I was no longer lonely or sad and when I exited the entirely deserted multiplex at midnight, there were rainbows of cheerfulness radiating from my heart.

3. Wristcutters: A Love Story. In the context of all that "I'm so sad" stuff, you may now be convinced that I am actually suicidal. Not so! It only sounds like that sort of movie. When really, with movies like this, why would anyone want to die? Think of everything you'd miss. I love this movie. I watched it twice. And yes, it certainly does have something to do with the fact that Tom Waits in it, and we know how I feel about Tom Waits, but I liked it even before his character showed up. So there.

Friday, September 05, 2008


In my email Junk folder there is one lone message.
It is from Norberto Joliet.
The subject heading is: When his wife is angry with you at night.

Is this spam specifically targeted at adulteresses? That is a niche market for sure. Thank you, Norberto. I don't even need to open your message for it to easily qualify as the most entertaining email I will receive today.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

In Memorium

It is 4pm on a school day, which means almost everyone has left the building. On my way to the front desk, I briefly pass a deserted hallway that is lined on one side with lockers. On the floor in front of one locker is a cheap, grocery store bouquet comprised of red and white carnations.

Now, in all likelihood this is merely a tribute to one teen from another that has been accidently abandoned in the flurry of after-school activity. However, the placement of the bouquet and the poor quality of the flowers makes it look exactly like the beginning of one of those impromptu shrines that one sees on the roadside where someone has been killed in a car accident. though one of our students has perished in some unspeakable locker-related tragedy.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Spell Check

I am checking a work email, mostly because I have trouble spelling "acknowledgment" [in fact, I just spelled it wrong three times right this minute]. However, what spell check is upset by is "but many of you have--thanks." Have--thanks is just too much for it to accept. It offers these alternatives:


Raise your hand if you knew that "harvestman" was a word. Okay, so there are three of you. Fine. How about "hardstands?" Right. That's what I thought. Nobody. Thanks, Microsoft.

Monday, September 01, 2008

We're the class of '88

In the last few days I have been on an internet date and gone to my twenty-year high school reunion. Prior to these events, I thought the former would be a fantastic success and the latter would be a depressing blow to my self esteem. Surprise! I got that backwards. The man I thought was perfect for't like me. So, back to the drawing board on that. Again. However, the reunion? The reunion was great.

First of all, let me just say that Tam High Class of 88 is looking good. Seriously. I kind of can't get over it. Yes, we look like adults. We are adults. But in no way do we look like scary, haggard, obese versions of our 18-year-old selves. There was no need for anxious nametag scanning. We are instantly recognizable. And frankly, pretty hot. Many of the people I graduated with were also my elementary school classmates and I found it truly moving to be there looking at the beautiful grownup versions of girls who were in my Girl Scout troop.

I feared that it would be Parade of Spouses and a veritable photo exhibit of offspring. I feared it would be all long-winded recounting of glamorous careers and recent large-scale propertry purchases. And that I would be all, "blah, blah single. Blah, blah secretary. Blah, blah rent control." Largely because that is my nearly constant inner monologue even when I'm alone. (Yeah. I know. I'm working on it: one resume update and one internet date at a time.) But you know what? It wasn't like that at all. Most people love their spouses so much that they spared them from the reunion altogether. Those who were there seemed to be happily in the spirit of things. And as for children? Maybe people were just happy to have a night off. Maybe it was enough to say their names and ages and then have another glass of wine and dance to another 80s cover.

I ended up wearing the thing that actually fits me, rather than the thing that only sort of fits me with the aid of miserable undergarments. No one hurt my feelings. No one was boastful and tiresome. Instead, I got some really high-quality hugs and was told by a dozen people that I was unchanged. We laughed a lot and sang along to every song and no one wanted it to be over, so we descended en masse on the town dive bar at about 12:45am. And it dawned on me that reunions are actually meant to be joyful. That's why the tradition lingers on. Not because every adult relishes being plagued by her high school insecurities. Oh. Well, that makes more sense. I wish someone would have told me sooner.

The only reunion stereotype that played out was that one guy who was a high school nerd is now a rocket scientist who is married to a stunningly beautiful woman who is? Yep. Also a rocket scientist. And you know what? That's my favorite reunion sterotype. I'm glad we didn't miss out on it.

Also, now that it's over and I am no longer determined to stuff myself into an ill-fitting dress, I hailed yesterday with a large plate of pancakes. Aahhh. The death of pretense is pretty tasty. Especially with maple syrup.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


In the seven minutes of quiet after the first pushing of the snooze alarm this morning, this thought floated in:

If infected is to have a malady, why is defected not to be cured of it?

Ah, English. You wily creature, you.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Occasionally, when I'm showing off for myself, I will get out a cookbook. But wait, there's more. I will then look through the cookbook and formulate plans for real meals I will consume in the future. I will then make a list of items necessary to create these meals of the future and I will go to the grocery store with the list and procure them. Now, this doesn't happen very often, but when it does, I'm always quite pleased with myself since the alternative is to sort of wander around aimlessly in Trader Joe's and come home with just chicken breasts, smoked turkey, and yogurt. Again.

Last week, I was all set to make red beans and rice, a recipe that involved multiple ingredients, including stalks of numerous fresh herbs. I know. I am a culinary genius. Step one of this process was to take a pound of red beans and soak them overnight in a pot of water. Which I did. Because I was Planning Ahead. In the morning I drained the water out and left the beans on the counter in their covered pot. Only it turns out that I wasn't home a lot that week and I didn't have time to cook something that requires two hours of simmering. So the beans just sat there in their pot. And that is how I learned what many elementary children already know from classroom science projects. Namely, if you leave wet beans in a covered pot for three days, they will do what they are designed to do: attempt to become bean plants. It is possible that beans that have sprouted are still edible, but when you open a pot and see a full pound of beans, each will a little tentacle bursting from it, they look a bit too much like aliens to be appetizing. Let's just say there should be plenty of bean plants sprouting from the compost bin soon.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Lately I have not been sleeping well. My bed at night seems to have become the Land of Thrashing and Itching. No matter how cold I am when I retire, I end up being weirdly sweaty-hot at some point in the wee hours. This is after a fair amount of existential mind racing and a heaping portion of allergy-induced mouth itching. It has not been good. I wake to the alarm feeling battered and depressed. Today is Sunday, which means that theoretically I was allowed to sleep as late as I wanted to this morning. And I did. It's just that even though I didn't get up until after 10:00, I still felt peevish and unrested.

I took a quasi-nap on the couch at about 12:30, but felt ridiculous and wasteful since the sun was out (rejoice! rejoice!), so I got up anad went out for a few hours to do errands. I came back, ate a late lunch, and a zombie. And so at 4:30, I decided to commit to a real nap. I shed my clothes and got in bed. And woke up about ten minutes ago. Which means that I was pretty much out cold for three hours. Oh. Oops. So I wasn't kind of sleepy so much as crazy tired. Now I know.

This means that my only real accomplishment of the day was getting a pedicure, which I realize is unimpressive. However, my toes are now emblazoned with a red laquer called "I'm Not Really a Waitress." In my case, I'm really, really not a waitress. And yet, I have every faith it will work equally well as "I'm Not Really a Secretary," which, in conjunction with my fresh haircut and red dress, should arm me well for my 20-year high school reunion next weekend. I'm hoping to project unmarried and childless as "glamorous" rather than "pitiable." And honestly? What with the flowers on my table, the champagne that accompanied my lunch, and the unscheduled three-hour nap, it actually does feel pretty glamorous.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

My anthem

In other musical news, I saw Gentlemen Prefer Blondes last night at my beloved Castro Theatre. I had forgotten much of the movie, including the fact that Jane Russell sings this song which could basically be my personal anthem, particularly when applied to online dating in the Bay Area--the land of rugged outdoor pursuits. (Try to listen to the lyrics and ignore the obvious homosexuality of Jane's fellas, which, although I suppose that could be considered another San Francisco dating challenge, is frankly nothing compared to all the frenetic mountain biking.)

Thank you, Jane.

Drivin' and cryin'

I recently made a CD for a departing friend and apologized for the melancholy middle of the mix. The thing is though, that I always like the sad songs best. Plus, as I told him, departures are bittersweet and there's nothing wrong with a little driving and crying. It's an American tradition, I told him.

Then today, as if to prove me right,I got this from NPR. Thanks again, NPR. You're always there for me.

My favorite part is this:

Here's hoping that the specifics of "Casimir Pulaski Day" don't apply to your own tearful drive: In all likelihood, you're not a young man who falls in love at Bible Study and questions his faith after watching the object of his unconsummated love die of bone cancer. If you are? Wow, sorry to hear that. But either way, it isn't necessary to fully relate to Sufjan Stevens' ornate ballad: It just sounds like sadness, what with its solemn trumpet and its cooing mourners and, well, the fact that, in the song, someone dies of bone cancer. If you're sad, "Casimir Pulaski Day" isn't going to cheer you up; let's leave it at that.

Stephen Thompson, who wrote that description, is a stranger to me, but I wish he were my friend.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Last night, I decided that it would behoove me to actually leave the house, so I took myself on a date. The time-honored classic: dinner and a movie. I had a salad, a cup of seafood stew, and a glass of water. I saw Vicky Cristina Barcelona (which I enjoyed except for the specter of Woody Allen himself, whom I kept imagining filming the love scenes in the full throes of pervy voyeuristic delight). And now I think I may have to get a second job to cover the cost.


What? This is neither London nor Manhattan. San Francisco? I know you have pretensions of fanciness and that's fine. I too have pretensions of fanciness; you should see the number of entirely unnecessary dresses in my closet. But, still, $38.50? For shame, San Francisco. For shame.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Last Saturday, I rented two movies at my local video shop, but I got a late start in my viewing and only had time to watch one before I had to go to sleep. On Sunday night, I stayed at my parent's house. Since the movies were due back on Monday, I had the foresight to bring the unseen movie, Introducing the Dwights, with me. After a fair amount of Olympic viewing and paternal snoring, my father went to bed and my mother and I begin gliding through the other million channels. "Hey." I suddenly remember, "I have this movie with me that's due tomorrow. Wanna watch it?" "Is it something I'll like?" my mother reasonably asks. "I think so," I tell her. "It's got Brenda Blethyn."

We watch about thirty minutes of Introducing the Dwights and it turns out that Brenda Blethyn is not enough. I hate the movie. My mother really hates the movie, particularly the part where a young woman, "a hussy," according to my mother, tries ungracefully and unsympathetically to seduce a young man who is clearly a virgin. I suggest we turn it off. My mother readily agrees.

On Monday morning, I return the movie to the video store. On Monday evening, I get two movies in the mail from Netflix. One of them proves to be Introducing the Dwights. Apparently, at some unremembered time when this feature was still in the theatres, I must have had a burning, yet thwarted, desire to see it. I mail it back to Netflix, unviewed.

Last night, sometime after midnight I check my email, just in case someone who lives in another, distant time zone might be trying to communicate with me. You just never know. There was one email. From Netflix. Typically, I don't even read the emails from Netflix, I like the element of surprise. Each little red envelope is like a present: What delight has the me of long ago selected for the me of today? However, after midnight with only one email, I can't help myself. I open it. It says, "We are sorry for the delay, but we have shipped your movies. Introducing the Dwights should arrive on Tuesday."

Dear me of the past:
You were mistaken. It's okay. Blame the marketing. I forgive you.

Dear Netflix,
Really, I've learned my lesson. Please. No more.

Dear Introducing the Dwights,
I will never watch all of you, no matter how you try to wear me down.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008


What I really want is to get married and move and maybe buy a new sofa. However, since not one of those things seems likely any time soon,what with being single and poor and all, I've instead spent a rather startling amount on this room spray. Still, it is a lot less costly than a new residence or even a new sofa, so, really, if you think about it, it's a bargain.

Sure, in all significant ways, my life will be the same, but it will smell different. And who knows where that will lead? I'm open to possibility.


Terms I find I do not enjoy:



South paw

Let's never use them again, okay?

Saturday, August 09, 2008


I cannot help but be struck by the thought that a time in one's life when one is obliged to wear a girdle in order to fit into the majority of one's dresses should not simultaneously be a time when one has a sizable and almost awe-inspiringly tenacious whitehead on one's face.

And yet, life is full of interesting little disparities, is it not?

Weather Report

At 9am, the radio newscaster read that today would be sunny with a temperature of 68 degrees at the coast after the morning low clouds burned off.

It is now 4:23pm. I glimpsed blue sky at 4:14pm. It now has disappeared. Therefore, by my calculation, we have had 9 minutes of summer in my neighborhood since Monday.

Had I known exactly when they would occur, I would have organized a BBQ.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Public Transportation

On Monday, my ride downtown on the trusty N Judah seemed more focused on the "public" than the "transportation." The train was surprisingly crowded considering it was going the opposite direction of the rush-hour commute. I stuffed myself on and found a place to stand without jamming my bag too, too much in anyone's face. At first we were doing okay, but once we reached the second stop, we just stayed there for many long minutes with no explanation. During this time, two young children, perhaps 7-year-olds, snaked their way from the back of the car to the driver two or three times trying to sort out the paying of their fare. Finally they settled in the forward corner behind the driver's compartment. All the standers among us relaxed into our stances now that we no longer had to accommodate the passage of the children. I was all the more surprised, therefore, when something struck me heavily at the back of the knees, causing me to stumble. What th...? Was it someone's luggage? Was it a big dog? I turned look and saw that a small child, presumably the sibling of the other two, was ricocheting his way down the aisle between the legs of commuters. He looked to be about three years old. He was wearing an adult sized tee-shirt that extended to his feet and he was filthy. There was no parent in sight.

Finally, after several passages of the child, a woman, presumably the mother, appeared. She yelled to one of the older children "Is Chance down there?" She was assured that he was and that seemed to bring her to the limits of her parenting responsibilities. Chance continued to travel from the other children toward his mother and back again, propelling himself by grabbing onto people's legs and pushing off as he moved forward. This may have been cute once, after all, he was a very young child, but it was not charming six times. It was clear that she had no intention of stopping him.

At one point, he grabbed onto me hard from behind, wadding up my coat in one hand and clinging to my leg with the other. He just hung there, content to stay in one place--my place--indefinitely. I turned to look for his mother but she had disappeared from view. I pulled away from him and turned to look him in the eye. "Where is your mother? You need to go to your mother." He glared at me. "No!" he yelled. "Yes." I countered and stepped back. He squniched up his eyes, made a fist and punched me in the leg, the highest point he could reach. "Bitch!" he yelled.

The adults in closest proximity to me and I all looked at each other with slack-jawed amazement. "Wow." I said. "I think being called a bitch by a three-year-old may be a new MUNI low." We craned our heads to look for the mother, but she was nowhere. I suspect that's where she usually is.

Compared to being punched and called a bitch by the three-year-old child of a total stranger while standing in an immobile vehicle, looking for parking downtown seems like it might a very pleasant pastime indeed. And this, boys and girls, is why global warming is unlikely to be abated in the near future.

And for Chance, sadly, global warming is likely to be the least of his problems. Good luck, small furious man. May someone take care of you soon.


9pm. August 6, 2008

Man: Damn. It's really cold out.

Woman (employing a tone that suggests he has missed the obvious): Well, it's August.

Even if you were blindfolded, overhearing this conversation would enable you to know instantly that you were in San Francisco.

And yes. It is really cold out. And damp. And windy.
The men beside me on my flight home from Nashville were incredulous when I told them they would require jackets. I hope they have heeded my warning. As for me? I've been wearing my winter coat every day since I got home. My sun dresses look at me reproachfully from the closet.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

No use for the truth

I got an email last night from my friend in Paris in which he mentioned casually that Tom Waits was there and that he (my friend) was thinking that maybe, possibly, he might go see the show. Now, if you are me (which, frankly, I hope you are not because things are quite confusing enough already, thanks) you do not find out that Tom Waits is playing in your town and then wander around pondering whether or not you might go see him. No. If you are me, you thank God and fairies and karma and whatever else has blessed you. Then you go empty out your bank account and pay whatever they're asking. And then you go. See Tom Waits. Live. Because he is Tom Waits.

If you are me, you also have a whole lot of romantic nostalgia about Paris, so finding out that Tom Waits is playing Paris while you are thousands of miles from Paris makes for a rough evening.

But then, a little self-pitying internet searching of the why-is-he-not-playing-MY-town variety unexpectedly reveals this shiny bright side. So, no. It's not Paris. It's Atlanta, kind of. But really it's your living room. And it turns out that that is a really, really good second best. Merci NPR.

In praise of talking to strangers

Since last we spoke, I have been on several small vacations and I have also had a birthday. One or the other of these things seems to have addled my brain as evidenced by the fact that the first time I left the apartment upon my return, I promptly locked myself out. Then, upon my return to work on Monday I saw on my work calendar that I was meant to be going to a Shawn Colvin concert that night. A concert that, at the time I bought the ticket, I had been quite excited about. Also a concert that I had not remembered was taking place. At all. No matter. The venue is not far from my home, and I had no other fixed plans, so it was fine. I congratulated myself for not having missed it and for not having wasted thirty bucks. Woo hoo and hooray for calendars.

I presented my ID at the will call window and was handed my tickets. Plural. I stared at them for quite a while perplexed. Was one a receipt? Was one an error? It slowly dawned on me that months ago when I was excited about this outing I no doubt also thought, "Well, I won't want to go by myself. I will employ amazing foresight and purchase TWO tickets." I may have even been so bold as to think, "Well, I currently have a boyfriend. Perhaps I will STILL have a boyfriend in two months." Bah ha ha ha. So there I was, standing in the lobby, clutching my two tickets, waving goodbye to thirty bucks after all, and, in general, feeling like a big, capital "L" Loser.

Seating at this venue is in groups of four chairs around little cocktail tables. What with my two tickets, I had my choice of seat A or B. I chose B and sat there by myself feeling silly. When the cocktail waitress came and said brightly, "How're you doing tonight?" I hesitated rather a long while before coming up with "Um...Okay." "You're not too sure, though?" she asked. And so, I told her my sad little story. "Really?" she said, eying seat A. "Because my mom really wanted to come to this concert. If she can get here she would totally give you thirty dollars." I told her I would be only too happy if someone could use the ticket. She was delighted; I was delighted. She took my spare ticket and hurried out to the lobby to call her mom.

Around that time, a friendly couple, the the holders of seats C and D arrived. And so I told them the same sad little story with the new happy ending: that we would soon be joined by our waitress' mother. They were able to join in the general delight. We then spoke quite amicably for about a half an hour as though we were old friends.

About three songs in, the waitress' mother was ushered in to seat A. The waitress came and embraced her and proceeded to bring me a dish of sorbet and a second glass of ginger ale on the house. The goodwill at Table 11 was flowing like the mighty Mississippi.

After the encore, we all told each other what a great pleasure it had been to make each other's acquaintance, what a pleasant evening it had been, and generally, to our view, how Table 11 was superior to all other tables in the world. The mother told me what a marvelous favor I'd done her by allowing her to see the show, and the waitress handed me thirty bucks, while clearing away my empty sorbet dish.

Oh, right. Shawn Colvin did a fine job too.

Sunday, May 04, 2008


My young cousin, a Marine, has just lost his leg in Fallujah.

What more is there really to say?

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Community service

Walking home today I passed a box of miscellaneous computer equipment in a cardboard box on the sidewalk. I don't know what any of it is, but it all looks large and clunky and it is all the same beige "computer equipment" hue. There is a sign above the box written in enthusiastic bubble capitals. It reads:


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The geinus of commerce

Anthropologie has just sent me an email with this breaking news:

They're back on the scene and better than ever.

Here's how to wear them.

I'll be honest, I didn't click the how-to link. Frankly, I find skirts remarkably simple to wear. However, I may have an unfair advantage since I've been wearing them all my life. I missed the part, I guess, when they went away. But they must have, right? Since they're back now?

Meanwhile, up on Haight Street the place that used to sell smoothies has closed down. There's a sign up now telling us what's coming next. Apparently, it is to be the city's best smoke shop. Well, thank god. Because you know what Haight Street needs more of? Smoke shops. There is a desperate lack. Oh. And tattoo/piercing joints. Obviously. Delicious juice based beverages? What need have we of those?

Not the same

There have been a great many commercials on the radio of late encouraging us all to play the California lottery. Basically the message is "winning even a little money is better than winning no money, so you really should spend the money you already have and play." They feature little vignettes of people having pampered themselves in some way. They're not millionaires, but they've been able to buy a bunch of shoes, or go on vacation or something.

This morning, I heard a new one from the series. A woman describes how she spent the day doing whatever she wanted to do: watching Italian movies, playing with her dog in the park and then seeing a guitar in a shop window and buying it on impulse. "Why not?" she asks. Then she says something about how living with cancer doesn't mean you should stop living to the fullest or some such. I'm all for that. You have cancer? Embrace your life. Play guitar if you want to.

And yet.

is it not disturbing that "living with cancer" sounds just like "winning the lottery?"

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

State of mind

The way I feel today I suppose it is unsurprising that, although I drove to work, I just walked home. This means that I just unintentionally left my car at work, which is not so bad since I need to leave there by car tomorrow afternoon to go to school. However, since it is parked in an 8am street cleaning zone, it is less than ideal. Yet, am I going back there to get it now? I am not. Will I get there before 8am to move it in the morning so I don't get a ticket? I will not. Am I therefore just throwing forty bucks out the window? Yes, yes I am. Now leave me alone. I'm very tired and I have to read about 150 pages of The Creation of Patriarchy by tomorrow. (This is also unlikely to happen, but we're not discussing that.)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Carry-on baggage

Walking home one day this week, I happened upon a man who had taken two of these and made them into one of these.

I don't really even know what to say about it, but I thought you should know.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Another one

Today I've gotten an email from MSN, the subject heading of which is "Date night? Be sure your friend is ready."

All I'm saying is, if that doesn't sound like some sort of condom euphemism, I don't know what does.

On the bright side, MSN seems open to the fact that I may actually be dating, rather than headed down the aisle. So, thanks MSN. Maybe you could have a little chat with J. Crew.

Monday, February 25, 2008

All dressed in black

The Paper Source catalogue I received in the mail on Saturday is entirely devoted to wedding invitations--having them printed, making them yourself with little kits, coordinating them with your guest book and gift boxes.

Just now I got an email from my old friend J. Crew with the subject heading "Engaged?"

People. Seriously. I have a mother. This sort of thing is her job. I really don't need miscellaneous vendors to be similarly perched on the edges of their proverbial seats. Should I ever be engaged, I'll be sure to let you know. J. Crew? I know how to reach you. Meanwhile, please calm down.

Friday, February 08, 2008


I am escorting a visitor through the school. I don't know him, so we're not saying much. This makes the loud squeaking of my shoes embarrassingly noticeable.

Me: This gives you a chance to listen to my squeaky shoes, which is good.

Him: I have some squeaky shoes too.

Me: I always forget that they do this until it's too late. I should just replace them.

Him: Mine are really nice shoes actually, it's just that they squeak. (Pause) They're not really worthy of the name "sneakers."

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

And next up..."Grandpappy's Mitzvah"

On Monday, there was a special activity day at school and I spent an hour of the morning with a group of students who were playing Bluegrass. I sang along as gamely as possible despite 1) not being a very able singer, 2) not being able to read music, and 3) never having heard of 80% of the songs. Still, the melodies are fairly simple and the song titles, even when unfamiliar, are generally pretty genre-appropriate. They have to do with family, God, journeys, love. So, when Courntey called out the name of the next song, I was taken aback. I leaned over to Zach. "What did she say? There's a song called 'The Mensch on the Hill'?"

Turns out there isn't. It's "The Mansion on the Hill." The good news is that means "Mensch on the Hill" is still available. In fact, I believe the whole genre of Yiddish Bluegrass is wide open. Knock yourself out.

Postcard from a Foreign Country

Two things are simultaneously true today that are normally mutally exclusive: it is 6am and I am up. This is unaccountable. Typically I would be up at six o'clock in the morning only if I had jetlag or needed to get to the airport. Today neither is true and yet, after lying awake since 5:23, I decided to give up the charade and actually get out of bed. Now here I am, with one tiny lamp on, listening to The Cure's "Pictures of You" on auto-repeat, waiting for the kettle to boil. Upstairs, I hear my neighbor's shower; across the street, I see a lamp on in the upstairs apartment--signs of life. These other people are citizens of the early morning. Me? I'm just visiting. Tomorrow there will be no pot of tea, no pre-dawn sky. Tomorrow there will be 48 minutes of the snooze alarm followed, quite possibly, by profanity, like every other morning. Meanwhile though, the weather continues fine. Wish you were here.

Monday, January 07, 2008

One week old

2008 is now a week old. How's it been going for you? Well, I hope. And may it continue so for us all.

After a month of writing nothing, it's best not to try to accomplish too much. We're going to start small. Hair shall be the topic.

For 2008, I have embraced hair dye for the first time in my life. Hair dye for me falls into the category of Things I Was Meant to Have Experimented with as a Teenager, but Never Did. I have always been content to let my hair be the color it was when it grew out of my head. That is, until so much of it grew out of my head white at a moment when dating was destined to begin anew (again). I am hoping that this level of vanity may spur me to actually start swimming again, and thus address other unfortunate aspects of aging, but so far it's extended no farther than my darker locks. Interestingly, my ex-boyfriend does not like the new look, but perhaps this is symbolic--a clear sign that some future, as yet unmet, boyfriend will find it exceedingly attractive. As I was walking toward my building recently, my next door neighbor whistled at me in an appreciative manner, so I remain hopeful.

A colleague's 8-year-old daughter walks unexpectedly into the faculty lounge.
"Oh! Hello there. Are you still on vacation?"
"Really? What are you doing here then?"
"I have lice."
"Oh. I see. How long will you be out of school?"
"Until it's gone."

Um...if your child is not allowed to go to school because she has lice, does it make sense to bring her to your workplace, which, just to be clear, is also a school?

I think we all know the answer to that, my friends. The last time I had lice was 13 years ago, but the memory is all too vivid.

Wishing you a vermin-free new year filled with passers-by who think you look pretty hot.