Thursday, November 19, 2009

True love

As you know, I am deeply engaged in the project of online dating, but I generally choose to just keep it to myself. Until I write a book, that is (as I have been encouraged to do) at which time, I will humiliate myself for your entertainment. For now though, I felt that it was just mean-spirited to keep this from you. Behold the reply I received from a personal ad I posted. This is the entire text of the email. I've deleted nothing but the name.

i just got home
i am copier machine service tech i using my palm PAD phone to enter my services log end of each service call.
i using hand truck to carrier my the yellow tool case and vaccume cleaned, boxs of machine spear parts and paper work order.

Ummmm. Great. So it sounds like you're just about done with all that. When can we meet?

Courage and hope

And who doesn't like those two things?

Back in 2008 my young cousin was gravely wounded in Iraq. At the time, I thought he had lost one leg, when, in fact, he had lost both. Fast forward to now. He is walking on prosthetics and he is being given a house by this rather remarkable organization, Homes for Our Troops.

What is most amazing to me though is how positive he is and how unflappable. I really do not know him at all, but he impresses me mightily. I invite you to meet him here. I watched this video in my office the other day, while high school students buzzed around in the hallway, all jacked up on finals nerves. To hear Steven say, "I'm 21 years old" while listening to 17-year-olds chattering in the background was sobering indeed.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Small disappointments

1. My emails to the cyber-suitor whom I am most keen to meet are bouncing back to me, which means I may lose him before I've even found him.

2. I had graduated from strech-sitting to stack-sitting in my my posture class, but I have been demoted. It seems I am prone to sway my back, and yet also thrust my head forward, which seems impossible. In fact, this may be the most complex feat of athleticism I have ever achieved, so there's that, at least.

3. The lovely vintage pocketwatch I just got does not, in fact, keep time.

It is Friday, though. And there's a double feature of French movies at the Balboa tonight. So maybe I'll cheer up.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Words from further down the road

Are you married? Of course you are. Everyone but me is married. Oh. Sorry. Did I sound bitter? It's quite early in the morning, my defenses have not been bolstered by enough sleep and/or a decent cup of tea. I love online dating! It is rad! Thank God I'm not in a committed relationship where I'd be missing all the fun! (There.)

In any case, I know that marriage isn't the fairy tale happy ending; it's just a different story. If you're in that story or you think you might someday be, the few minutes watching this film by Andrew Zuckerman would be well spent. I found it very moving.

Indeed, much that is to be found on that site is worth looking into or gazing upon. It is some project of Anthropologie, the clothing store, although I don't see any direct correlation. Maybe after selling millions of $200 sweaters they just have so much money that they thought some of it would be worth spending on art and beauty. That would be nice. Caution: Though brimming with lovely things, the site is vexingly baffling to navigate. Breathe deeply first and approach it in a state of calm. It's always worth making time for heartening perspectives on the human experiment.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Weekend Highlight

I did quite a few things this weekend, including overcoming the sore throat I had creeping around for three days. (Ha! Not sick after all!) However, the best thing, no contest, was Dil Bole Hidappa (Translation: My Heart Goes Hooray!) at the Castro. In short, it is about a remarkably skilled cricketer who is not allowed to play because she is a woman. But wait! With a little spirt glue and a fake beard, dreams can come true.

It's quite possible that musicals are not your thing. I understand that many people feel that way, it's just that I am not among them. Bollywood musicals are like regular musicals on drugs. I'm not too familiar with drugs, so I'm sorry not to be more specific, but think speed with some kind of "Wow those colors are so amazing. Do you think I could eat them?" component. So what is that? Cocaine and acid together? Something.

The plots are ridiculous and predictable. And I love them. The movies are usually about three hours long, the better to have more! dance! numbers! Dance numbers that are introduced by such lines as "Are you going to invite me to the harvest festival this year?" "Of course, my friend." Cut to harvest festival! Which is like an enormous Busby Berkeley extravaganza only with a better beat. The song is about having the disco people move aside because the traditional Indian dancing is so superior in every way. Which is exactly the song you would anticipate at a harvest festival.

Oh, the joy.

Of course, The Castro Theatre is also my favorite place in San Francisco, and being there for a sold-out movie, whatever it may be, never fails to make me happy. Still, sold-out Bollywood is a straight shot of elation. My heart went hooray.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


Last night, I was moseying contentedly down the path of Everything Will Be Fine when I accidentally slipped and slid right into the Self Pity bog. (Possible other explanations/titles: The Internet Stranger Who Broke the Camel's Back or perhaps most simply, Online Dating Hurts My Feelings.) I sank quite deep and had trouble crawling out--it's damnably slippery, you know. In the end, I had to have a friend throw me a rope and haul me out as best he could.

Anyway, what with one thing and another, not a great night. Today's project is to regroup. What better time, therefore, to bring this out. I happened upon this list folded in a cookbook; on the other side is a shopping list. I have no recollection of writing it (you know how seldom I use my cookbooks) or what prompted me to write it, but it was very pleasing to find it. Here is what it says.

Some Things I Like

Making those little cream pitchers that have hinged lids "talk"

Very small spoons

Watching people in restaurant kitchens cook over those crazy huge flames and flip things in pans

Colored shadows of helium balloons

A good Manhattan


French movie matinees on grey days

Books that you want to read in one sitting

Men in hats

British understatement

People who don't wear jeans absolutely everywhere they go

Real letters in the mail

Witty repartee

Actually ripe tomatoes

Parking places in front of the destination

Movies from the 30s

Of course, I like a great many other things, but that's what fit on the paper. It's a cheerful list, don't you think? I like the girl who wrote it. That I am that girl is so much the better.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Tap your foot

The aptly named Nice Guy Trio had their CD release party last night at Yoshi's. And it was fantastic. So overcome with happiness was I that I resisted the urge to knock the damn iPhone out of the hand of the ridiculous man next to me. Dude. Listen to me now: Do not text during a concert. Especially not for an hour.

Anyway, a CD release party can only mean one thing. A released CD. You should buy it immediately, of course.

And while you're feeling musical, this is a fun thing to peruse. If you click on the more info thing, you can listen to a little song clip. And who doesn't enjoy a little song clip?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Thank you, kind sir

At about midnight, my friend and I disembarked from the N Judah and were standing chatting on the corner of Carl and Cole. A man approached from down the street and I stepped aside slightly to give him better access to the crosswalk. As he passed us, not only did he say, "excuse me," he tipped his hat to us. Not in an exaggerated ironic sort of way, but in a genuinely mannerly sort of way. And then he simply carried on up the street. And now I am probably in love with him.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Logging onto (the details of which I generally try to spare you), I get an error message. There's a little dialogue box which, at the top in large letters, says, "Even dating has its difficulties" and then in smaller print it says "We couldn't process that request." and then the usual customer support contact information.

Hoo boy. I don't know if I've ever seen a more hilariously misused "even." Oh, naive little, when you suggest that a computer error message may be the first dating mishap I had ever experienced, I can but laugh derisively. I assure you that this error message is not the first dating difficulty with which you have presented me. Indeed, were I not already quite aware that dating has its difficulties, I would never have logged onto your site to begin with. Thank you, though, for your quaint apology.

The Bangles

Jonathan Lethem is probably smarter than you too. He certainly seemed to be very smart. He did say one thing that resonated and which I will now misquote. "The experience of reading books that you love is that of encountering yourself." Basically, that when a book speaks to you profoundly it is because it affirms or reveals some deep part of yourself. I wish I could recall what he said exactly, but I know that my reaction was complete agreement.

However, I was inattentive on the whole because seated in the two rows directly behind me was a whole class of university students. I pray that they are mere freshmen and that there is yet time to mold them into adults, although part of me despairs that by university age they wouldn't have already gleaned some basic theatre-going skills.

1. Keep your phone off and closed.

2. Don't talk. No. Really. Just don't. That whispering you did steadily for at least thirty minutes counts as talking. Good theatres have excellent acoustics. We can all hear you. And we don't like you.

3. The question-and-answer period at the end of the formal interview is still part of the event. Which means you still can't talk.

4. If for some reason you find it fashionable to wear 18 bangles on your arm, for the love of God, keep your arm still. I don't know what you were doing back there--calisthenics?--but you sounded like an entire team of horses bedecked with sleigh bells.

There are others, but let's start by mastering these, shall we?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

And the answer is: no

It is actually not possible for your upstairs neighbors to move away without your noticing. Don't concern yourself with that worry. It's true that they might give their cat away a few weeks early to throw you off the trail, but there will be a great deal of stomping and dragging and banging near the end. It will go on all night. You won't miss anything.


A.S. Byatt is smarter than you

Not that she'd say so. She's very polite. I don't know that you've read any of her books, but I have and I'm a bit in awe of her. She is one of those writers who is able to take all sorts of elements of the human experience--art, history, science, emotion--and weave them into a complex narrative. Reading her books makes me feel the way I did after I saw Tom Stoppard's Arcadia: what must it be like to be that smart?

Here are some things she said at the Herbst on Monday:

1. That one of her great heroines is Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman doctor in England. She said that she admired her particularly for the way in which she became a doctor. That is, by being very polite. Apparently Ms. Blackwell would just turn up for lectures and exams and when told she shouldn't be there would say "Oh, I'm just attending. Thank you." and stay. Eventually, they had to pass her. "She became a doctor and never lost her good manners," said Ms. Byatt.

After this tale, Robert Hass mentioned that Gertrude Stein had gone to medical school for three years, but had given it up and became a writer. Ms. Byatt remarked that it was probably just as well and that she "wouldn't have liked to have been tended by her at all. Alice B. Toklas would have been better."

2. When asked about the future of the planet she said that it seemed very likely that according to all the scientists she's spoken to, it is very likely that we are going to extinguish ourselves. She said "human beings are very clever animals, and we make all sorts of clever things. But we're just not quite clever enough to stop."

3. She told us that when she is working on a book, she first fills notebooks with copious quotes, research, ideas, etc. When she sits down to write the book she does it chronologically straight thought. She said that if she makes a mistake, she throws the page away and begins again. She doesn't cross things out or move things around.

Have you read a book by A.S. Byatt? Yeah. I'll just give you a moment to contemplate the fact that it was written in that manner. You should probably sit down before you think about it too much.

4. She has four children. I mean, they are not children now, but they were at some point. How she was simultaneously the sort of writer she is and the mother of four, I cannot say. It puts parent blogging in rather harsh perspective. Any sort of blogging, really. She spoke about the decision one can make to be a person, not just a woman. She quite obviously achieved a level of personhood that is miles above my head.

On the whole, it was delightful and I felt honored to be there and I can't wait to read her new book. Hooray for writers. Hooray for thinkers. Hooray for good manners and understated humor. Hip Hip Hooray!

Tonight, back to Herbst to hear what Jonathan Lethem has to say for himself.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Neighborhood watch

My upstairs neighbors are moving to Switzerland. The question is, have they already moved to Switzerland? And the answer is, I really couldn't say. Hmmm. Surely I ought to know. There are only four apartments in the building and what these particular people call their floor, I call my ceiling. Is it actually possible for them to have moved out of the country without my noticing? Would there not have been some "schlepping all of our possessions down and uncarpeted staircase" noise? True, I haven't heard their cat lately (hooray!). You know what? I think they may really be gone.

I fully intended to say goodbye.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Muddled and shaken

But in a good way.

My friend Samantha knows about cool things and she invites me to come with her to do them, which is just the sort of friend you want to have. Last night I went with her to Workshop to take a class called Mad Men Cocktails: Old School Classics. We got dressed up for the occasion and, frankly, we looked fantastic. So much so that when we were walking down the sidewalk and some guy said "Has anyone told you ladies that you look beautiful tonight?" The appropriate reply that came to mind was "Not yet, but thank you." And it's true. He was the first, but not the last. Sorry you missed it, because we might not be stuffing ourselves into those dresses and heels again any time soon.

Our lovely instructor taught us to make a Tom Collins, an Old Fashioned, and a Gibson. And, less interesting to me, a negroni.

I skipped the Campari because nothing you can say will make me believe it's palatable. However, I did learn that campari was and/or is dyed with insects (true!) but that vegans are all upset about it and have been lobbying for a bug-free version. This bit of information created quite a hubbub among the students because, get this San Francisco, we are tired of vegans. My favorite remark to come from the general decrying was "Do vegans have, like, a big need for campari?" A very good question indeed. Surely there are enough roots and organic grains to keep them busy and they can just stay away from our liquor. And bugs.

Anyway, it was delightful. Do you live here? Workshop is a very cool place. Check out their schedule. I hear there's a grilled cheese sandwich workshop coming up. I'm so there.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Things I didn't miss

The good news is that before I got sick I had a week in which I did not miss things. Indeed, I had two double-event evenings one after the other and that may have been my undoing, but, oh well.

1. Nick Hornby interviewed by Dave Eggers at the Herbst. Delightful. I like to listen to amusing people talk about how much they love books. Presumably, this does not surprise you. Next week, I'm going to hear A.S. Byatt (who I think is scary smart and I'm glad I'm not the one interviewing her as my questions would be along the lines of "So. What's it like to be so darn intelligent?") and Jonathan Lethem who is also no dummy.

You want an anecdote? You got it.
The interview was part of City Arts and Lectures, which, as you may already know, is broadcast on public radio. Anyway, in person, the stage is just set with two armchairs, and a little table with water on it. Dave Eggers sat in one and Nick Hornby in the other. They were chatting companionably and at one point, Nick Hornby mentioned that before he'd been a writer, he'd been interested in music and football.

"Really?" says D.E. "Music and football, you say." He jokily pulls a pen out of his pocket and pretends to add this information to his notes. "Well, I had no idea you were interested in those things. It's not even in my notes here."

There is much general laughter from the Nick-Hornby-familiar audience.[Note: if you yourself are not familiar with Nick Hornby, this is officially not amusing. Sorry.]

But then, Dave Eggers just has this pen in his hand, and, as you sometimes do unconsciously, he starts clicking it while he's talking. "click-click. click-click. click-click." He doesn't do it continuously, but in little spurts of clickiness. This seems like it wouldn't matter much, but the theatre is very well-mic-ed so it is really quite loud and distracting. Also, they're recording for radio, so you know somewhere there is a sound editor weeping.

This goes on for a while and then at one point, a stage hand comes on and fairly unobtrusively refills Dave's water glass. She then reaches over him and physically removes the pen from his hand and replaces it with a pencil. Much laughter and applause from the audience. Dave himself looks somewhat bemused. Then he says "Oh my god. Was I going like this [mimes pen clicking.] Oy."

General mirth.

2. My friend Kirk playing yet another show. This time with only one trumpet, but also a violin and an upright bass. Good times.

3. The Nice Guy Trio playing a big finale concert at the de Young featuring all the people they'd collaborated with over the past six months. A jazz extravaganza. And, beautifully, it was in the lovely Koret Auditorium instead of the anticipated open main hall, which is cacophonous and acoustically a ridiculous place for a concert. It was great. But then, I'm their biggest fan. Did you know they have a CD out? They do. You should probably buy it.

4. The Lit Ball



And thank you to my parents who celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary this week.

It is awe-inspiring to me to contemplate being with someone for forty-two years, particularly since in the last year and a half I haven't managed to find anyone I wanted to go on more than three dates with.

Speaking of which, the adventure of online dating continues apace. Most recently, an email from a man too old for me. He said many genuinely flattering and complimentary things, but among them was this: "you are sexy in your way."



Things I missed

Hello mystery cyber readers! I am not dead. I am not even in bed. I know. I'm as surprised as you are. I still find it perilous to venture more than a few steps away from a box of Kleenex, but I am nearly well. The hot question around the school has been "Was it the flu?" Because, of course, we've been led to believe that we will all die of flu this year. No! It wasn't the flu. My life never hung in the balance. I never even had a fever. But I did feel lousy for days and days and surely that should be enough to satisfy everyone.

Now then. Here's a little list of things I intended to do and then stayed in bed instead. I'm not sure what purpose such a list serves. Hmmm. To prove that my life would be fascinating if I could just manage to participate in it? Maybe.

Things I Missed (in order):

1. My lovely friend Katy Stephan doing her thing at the piano at Martuni's. Not to worry! It's a steady gig. I haven't missed it forever; it just seemed so clever to go on a Sunday night that was followed by a Monday holiday. 'Twas not to be.

2. A day off that was fun in any way.

3. A reading of the epilogue to The Laramie Project at the Magic.

4. Fancy cocktails at Alembic to bid farewell to my friend Liz who is moving to Canada. She came over instead and we had soup. Because, you know, when your friend is moving out of the country, you can't cancel altogether. She didn't even laugh at my weird laryngitisy voice. In all ways, she's the sort of person you wish wouldn't move away.

5. The National Theatre of London's cinema broadcast of All's Well. Isn't that cool? I'll definitely be there for the Bennett play in the spring. I was sorry to miss it, but I couldn't rally for three hours of Shakespeare punctuated by coughing (my own, of course. I'm not implying that it was an avant garde interpretation of the play.) It was also a twenty-dollar ticket out the window. Sigh.

6. Howard Wiley and the Angola Project at the de Young. They played at school once upon a time (what? How is it that famous people play in this tiny school's gym? We are lucky round here.) and I was all agog.

7. Basically all of Litquake.

On the bright side, I did see about 200 movies on Netflix instant viewing and I drank 700 cups of tea. Something like that.

Anyway. I'm back. Hi.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Another blessing counted

Let's say you live alone. And you're sick. Not sick like dying, but sick like sore throat, snuffly, shuffly miserable.
Do you have a friend who would call you at midnight and read you stories until the Nyquil kicked in?

I do.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Aptly titled

"Real Life Despite My Best Intentions."

This is nicely illustrated almost every day in ways large and small, but I think last night's example is particularly rich.

When I returned to my car after a small workshop about mindfulness and breaking negative patterns in one's life, I discovered a hundred dollar parking ticket.

I could tell you a far more detailed version of this story, but why?

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Your savior

I heard on the radio this morning that some study has recently been conducted that shows that 1) people who live with a partner live longer than those who live alone and 2) men will live longer if they live with a college-educated woman.


Gentlemen, I have a Master's degree. And I'm single.

Step right up.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Monday Miscellany

I do complain about my job (I complain about everything, actually, so this is really not surprising), but on some days there is nowhere I'd rather be. Those days, friends, are Talent Show days. Let's just say that Monday morning is very much improved by witnessing two seventeen-year-old white Jews stepping into their DJ personas of Rhymeoceros and HipHopopatamus* and doing a little freestylin' on the mic. One of HipHopoptamus' lyrics ended with "how could you come up with such a preposterous hypothesis." I only wish I could remember more because it was mad quotable yo.


Later, overheard in the hallway.
"Yeah. In Spanish, I just put an "o" on the end of English words."
"I got an F-o."


Hardly Strictly Bluegrass was this weekend and it was quite an extravaganza. Billy Bragg said that football is a game they play in England which is called "'football' because you play it with your feet. See? What you play here that you call 'football' we call 'runny, runny, catchy, catchy.'" Aimee Mann was astonished by the size of the crowd and the blinding sun. "I feel like my forehead is a giant solar panel," she said. And darling, adorable Neko Case said all manner of ridiculous things because she is a big goofball. She also snorts when she laughs. And we love her. She did have to keep hoisting her pants up and said, "It's hard to do rock and roll when you've got no butt. You have to just keep pulling your pants up. Belts don't do no good."

Thanks for the music, y'all.

And now, MUNI, may I just have a word? Do you see this picture?

Yeah. That's the crowd at one of six stages. This will apparently come as a surprise to you, but after the festival all those people had to get home. So, I'm thinkin'... maybe run more buses? I know. It's a crazy idea, but it just might work.

As for me, although I exited the park at a bus stop, the (two) buses on Fulton were full, so I walked to Balboa, where another bus passed me, so I walked to Geary. Once there, I just walked and walked and walked for the better part of an hour during which time only one bus passed me at all. After 35 blocks, I finally came upon an empty taxi at Geary and Stanyan which took me the remaining 17 blocks home. Had the taxi driver proposed to me, I probably would have married him.

View Larger Map

The way this was supposed to go was a straight shot down Fulton on the trusty #5 and a leisurely 10-block stroll home. Had I planned to walk between 30 and 50 blocks, I would have worn different shoes. And I definitely, definitely would have peed first. Just to recap: four buses are insufficient to transport 750,000 people. I only mention this in passing.


P.S. The one bonus of walking directly east for an hour in the dark was that I did see the moonrise. And it was lovely.

{10/7/09: I have since been informed that while our two students are still clearly adorable and entertaining, they are not rap parody geniuses. But they are.}

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

MUNI--the freshmaker

Do you remember that Mentos commercial where the pretty lady has a little tiny car that is gets boxed in by bigger cars, so she has some burly construction workers pick up her car and move it?

It's better in real life.

On Saturday night, my friend and I were at Kezar on the corner of Carl and Cole, directly on the route of the N Judah. Trains come and go, of course, and one learns to ignore them, but instead of heading into the tunnel as usual, one outbound train stopped in the middle of the intersection for a long enough time to attract my attention even thought my back was to the window. When I turned to look, the train was stuck right where the track curves tunnelward; all the doors were open and passengers and driver seemed stymied. Suddenly, about a dozen guys stepped off the train and surrounded a four-door Toyota sedan just a few feet from the head of the train. They lifted it up, and moved it a foot closer to the curb (allowing the train to clear it) and deposited it back on the street. Then, looking rather pleased with themselves, they reboarded the train to applause from their fellow passengers, passersby on the street, and even those of us in the bar. It was strangely elating.

A lesson in parallel parking and a small neighborhood celebration--all at once. Who needs candy?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Things I'm not good at: Part 8,600,010

Hula hooping. Or rather, since Hula Hoop is a trademarked device, hooping. A thing that seems as though it would be A) not all that difficult and B) downright whimsical. Bah ha ha ha.

You know how they say you never forget how to ride a bike? I am willing to believe that's true, although I've never put it to the test. Personally, I haven't been on a bike since I was 9 years old and I have no intention of getting on a bike ever again. But, that's me. For, you know, normal people, perhaps the adage holds true. Therefore, you might imagine it would be true for other skills one possessed as a child. Based on my small not-all-that-scientific study, this is not the case. Seriously. I was fantastic at hula hooping when I was 8. I had a red hoop and I spent many a pleasant hour with it on the back deck. Round and round it went and all was right with the world.

Fast forward 31 years. Hooping fitness class (a thing that actually exists, in case you didn't know). Of ten women, I am the only one who cannot keep the hoop up. In fact, I suck to a degree that makes me incredulous even though each time the hoop clatters to the floor I am presented with irrefutable evidence. Also, ow. Really. Ow, ow.

The following day, I had this bruise on my blinding white flesh. The photo doesn't even really do it justice. It was a truly awe-inspiring bruise. I also had (and continue to have) bruises over my ribs on both sides of my body, as well as a massive one on my left elbow and another on the knee. If you don't mind my saying so: whimsical, my ass.

I won't be returning. Fitness has once again slipped from my grasp.

The good news is that I think I'm still pretty good at jumping rope.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Our native language

In Ritual Grounds on Sunday afternoon.

Me: For the record, I really hate this music.

Mathew: Earlier they were playing something less insistent. It is a rather mercurial sonic situation.

He's my little ray of linguistic sunshine in a drab vernacular world.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A novel syndrome

If I am reading a novel by a male author and that novel is in some way delightful (which, for me, typically means the writer evidences both sprightly wit and a wealth of knowledge about one thing or many things of which I am ignorant), I will be moved to interrupt my reading to look at the back flap. If this author is somewhere along the spectrum of passably to extraordinarily handsome, I will instantly fall in love with him. If then the "About the Author" blurb contains mention of this author's wife, the following will occur:

1. I will feel immediately deflated, as though, since this stranger is already romantically entangled, happiness will never be mine. [It makes no difference if the author is 15 years younger than me and lives in, say, Maine. The fact that I am too old for him and there is essentially zero likelihood that we will ever meet in no way alters my certainty that we would be perfect for each other.]

2. I feel a swift blaze of jealousy directed at this wife. This is increased if the author is indeed 15 years younger than me because his wife is likely to also be a youngster. And really why should this wife have been a child bride when I continue to languish in spinsterhood? This wife calls herself a woman? What knows she of life?

3. I wallow in general malaise because no handsome brilliant novelist has ever married me. Even though one should. Obviously.

I do not experience this in relation to movie stars.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Sweet revenge

About half a block from work, on a corner that I pass twice daily, there once was a tree. What was wrong with this tree I cannot tell you, but according to the opinion of someone, quite possibly an arborist, it needed to be removed. Or at least mostly removed. A year or so ago, all its branches were removed and its top was cut off. What remained was somewhat taller than the average stump, but nothing at all like the average tree. Stealthily, while I wasn't really paying attention, the leftover trunk began to sprout leaves--just a few at first and then, over time, a great many leaves. Now, what was once a tree looks like an extremely healthy bush, fairly bristling with leaves. It is approximately 5 feet tall and seems to have modeled itself after a haystack or Cousin It.

It looks pleased with itself.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Better late than never

You remember how I claimed that I went to London this summer? I did. Honest. It's just that I'm a terrible blogger. But then, if you're reading this, you already know that.

I spent about five days with my friends who had rented a flat for the summer. Basically, they told me they were spending the summer in London, and I immediately invited myself. They were too polite to turn me town. The flat was in Belsize Park near Primrose Hill. The nearest underground stations were Chalk Farm and Swiss Cottage. From which we can conclude that the majority of locations in London sound like they have come directly from a children's book.

The neighborhood was very lovely--full of beautiful brick houses that were once large single residences, but have almost all been converted to flats. The romantic in me finds that to be rather a pity, but, on the other hand, if anyone would like to buy me a flat there, please feel free.


1. Upon greeting me, my friend Talya forewarned me that her three-year-old daughter had developed a "Dick Van Dyke accent." by which she meant a "Bert the chimney sweep from Disney's version of Mary Poppins" accent. Indeed, this very small blonde child, usually dressed in pink, had acquired a broad cockney-by-way-of-American-high-school-drama-club accent. It really wasn't her fault. Her mother is English; her father is Irish; they normally live in Massachusetts; she'd spent months surrounded by her English and Irish relatives and had been consuming a steady diet of BBC children's programming. Nevertheless, a slightly unspecific cockney accent coming from a very small girl? Hilarious. Unfailingly hilarious.

2. I would not have known this if I hadn't been staying in a house with two young children, but there is a very cool playground in Kensington Gardens built as a memorial to Princess Diana. It is built on a Peter Pan theme and you are jealous that it's not in your own town, you just don't know it. Fairy chimes, teepees, huge pirate ship, lost boys house. Super cool.

3. Another thing I wouldn't have ever found out were it not for the children: the BBC children's channel actually seems to be on the side of parents. In the evening, there is a peculiar bedtime program called "Iggle Piggle" (seriously, to me it looks like it cannot have been created without the aid of hallucinogens, but children seem to enjoy it), followed by another program where an actor reads a bedtime story. After the story, all sorts of BBC characters from various shows say goodnight and then...the channel actually goes off the air until morning and the children go to bed. It's brilliant. Goodnight BBC, goodnight children.

4. I met some plumbers in a pub who seemed extremely offended that I did not plan to go to Manchester.

5. Talya and I saw War Horse at the National. It is a completely amazing play that does not sound amazing. Ready? A young man raises a horse from the time it is a colt. WWI rolls around. The boy's father sells the horse to the army. The boy enlists to find his horse. There are many misadventures, largely because WWI was not delightful. The boy and the horse are finally reunited. Ta da!

See? Not amazing.

But the horses in this play were puppets. Huge puppets operated by between two and four puppeteers. And I can't even imagine the amount of rehearsal it must have taken to make those horses so entirely, well, horsey. It was simply breathtaking. And we all cried. So there.

There is a little video of it here, should you be curious.

6. They sell little containers of ice cream in the theatre at intermission. It, like everything, is overpriced and yet I did not care at all because I was sitting in a theatre and eating ice cream at the same time. If you are me, it really doesn't get better than that.

7. Our friends came down from Scotland. Later email correspondence suggests that at least one of them was "chuffed to bits" to see me. Very likely the best compliment I've ever received.

8. If you are an American sitting at a table with an Irishman, and English woman, and two Scots and the music suddenly gets very loud, it is quite possible that you will no longer be able to understand a single word that anyone is saying.

9. At Camden Market, I wanted to buy a great many impractical old things. To wit:

9. And, as for the Portobello Road, I wanted to live there AND buy old things.

And, were I not terrified to drive in England, maybe own this car. It's nice to know the people of Chelsea are pro-Obama.


Yesterday I read an interview with someone (I don't even know who she was, actually. It was one of those one-link-leads-to-another internet wandering type things. She's someone with a nice house? Who designs things, maybe?) in which she was asked "what is your most treasured possession?" To this she replied, "my family."

I hate that.

Your family is not a possession. We want to know if you have a collection of your grandmother's love letters or a necklace you bought in Tunisia or a perfect blue lamp. Something. A thing.

This happens all the time. Interviewees, writers of online personals profiles, you know who you are.

Look. People. We assume you love your child/spouse/mother/best friend more than your vintage comic books. Consider it a given.
And now... answer the actual question.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I laughed yesterday to read this post on Samantha's blog. Look at how happy she is. Read how she is suffused with contentment.


Meanwhile, I have had a headache since Saturday. Typically, I'm not very prone to headaches, but they are hard to avoid when you have been clenching your teeth all day long. I am a long-time night clencher and have a dentist-approved plastic device that prevents me from engaging in hot tooth-on-tooth action all night long. But until now this has been a completely unconscious and utterly mysterious manifestation. Now, I am doing it in my waking hours. My head hurts. My jaw hurts. My teeth hurt. But mostly. I think we can safely assess that this is not an indication that I am suffused with contentment. Apparently I am filled with stress and/or rage. This both surprises me and saddens me. (Update: I am filled with stress, rage, surprise, and sadness.)

What to do?

Perhaps if I, like Samantha, were unemployed, I would become slack-jawed with joy. It seems a dangerous gamble though. Once my meager savings had gone, I would be worried and sure to go back to my old ways. Then my teeth might crumble altogether and there I'd be--penniless and without dental insurance.

Maybe I should just drink more.

Friday, August 21, 2009


You know what might be rather depressing?
Scrolling through online personal ads and suddenly realizing that the song playing on the ol' iTunes mix is "The Sound of Settling."

Not that I'd know.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Swiss Miss

I know. I am a big liar. We've been all through that. Really, it should no longer be a surprise to you.

Let's be frank: anything clever or witty I might have had to say about my seemingly distant vacation has long since evaporated from my brain. Still, I will soldier on and try to catch up.


I went to Lausanne from Geneva by boat. It took about four hours. When I later recounted this to someone in Lausanne, he looked at me blankly for a minute and then said "What was it doing?"

Turns out that Lausanne is really not far from Geneva. In fact, on the train it's about thirty minutes. Therefore, it would appear that any boat that took four hours to make the journey must be doing figure eights or deep sea diving or some such. But no. It went at a pretty good clip, actually, it's just that it made the journey in a sort of zig-zag fashion, stopping at small (and ridiculously picturesque) towns on either side of the lake. Sometimes we were in Switzerland; sometimes we were in France. Frankly, I never noticed the difference. I bought a fancy first-class ticket and sat in a canvas deck chair on the top deck like a lady of means from a bygone era, only more poorly dressed. I tried to be consistently in awe of the view, but awe is difficult to maintain for four hours straight and I might have fallen asleep. Just a little.

The morning began in a very dark and rainy fashion, such that I seriously considered not putting on any sunscreen. I know. What can I have been thinking. Finally, the weight of my skin-cancery Irish heritage was too much too bear and I dug the sunscreen out of my suitcase and lathered it on under the lowering skies. Upon arrival in Lausanne, I discovered that the almost perfect circle of my right ankle bone was lobster red and stinging. I missed a spot, apparently. But let us take a moment to be grateful that it was such a small spot. I might well have been bright red and in agony from head to foot. I have (again) learned a valuable sunscreen lesson. May you learn from my example.

Swiss children are smarter than I. They travel with hats.

Lausanne is a very steep town. I don't have, nor can I find a photo which makes this clear, so you'll have to take my word for it. I arrived, obviously, at the lowest point of the town at lakeside. But when we then got in the subway to go to my friend's house, it immediately started going straight up hill. A peculiar sensation. In fact, at his stop, the station platform is steeply inclined. There are benches, but they are at precipitous angles. Hmm. Surely it is possible to make a flat bench even on an inclined surface, no?

There is a parking garage on the street behind my friend's building. Mind you, it is in no way related to his building. Still, his system is to enter the garage at street level and then take the elevator to the top floor where you are able to exit at what is essentially an entirely different section of the town. I initially thought this was a little ridiculous. That is, until we didn't do it one day. Um. Wow. The citizens of Lausanne must be the fittest people in the world. It was about 90 degrees out the day we did the climb, which certainly didn't help anything, but I really wonder what they do in the wintertime. It must be a dangerously slippery town indeed. Maybe they just toboggan down to the train station to go to work. On the bright side, there is a lake view from almost anywhere you might happen to be. Did I mention that Switzerland is not ugly?

Other things.

1. We went to the Montreux jazz festival, at which there was no jazz (at least none that I witnessed) but there was plenty of Bb Marley playing through the speakers (why? why?) and a great deal of smoking. Oh, the smoking. Swiss people: I thought you were all sporty and brimming with wholesome health. Ha. I say to you. Ha ha.

2. It is possible to purchase a sort of pre-made chocolate ice cream cone (produced by Nestle, as is everything for miles around) that has some sort of chocolate covered nuts on top, a small chocolate bar buried somewhere in the middle, and a cone that is coated with chocolate on the inside. This was clearly invented by a genius.

3. There are croissants available that basically have an entire chocolate bar melted into them. This is a breakfast pastry. Thank you, Lausanne.

4. I can't vouch for all restaurants, mind you, but at least one of them has a menu that involves ridiculously adorable snacks.

5. That horn from the Ricola commercial? It's a real thing.

6. Not to be bested by the smoking festival, Jules and I did go back to Montreux with actual tickets in hand for something called the Jazz Boat. I bet you can guess what that is. My favorite part was singing along with a Canadian swing band to "Just a Gigolo" while drifting past various Alpine vistas. "IIIIIIII ain't got no buuuhhhdy (nobody!) ... Oh. bonjour beautiful view."

7. We played quite a lot of Scrabble (Jules is totally cut throat. Beware of him) and I had a birthday. See?

And London, to London to buy a fat pig. Well, that wasn't actually a goal of my visit, but I did go there. I will tell you about it. Sometime. (See how I didn't say tomorrow? Thus setting myself up to commit yet another falsehood? I'm getting so crafty in my old age.)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Liar, liar

So, I lied. The tomorrow to which I referred came and went several days ago and still no Lausanne. Sorry about that. There were some transitional computer-less days there during which I executed the purchase of a brand new Mac. Oooooh. This one is all raring to go, unlike my old one which really was very tired and unwilling to to many computery things. So..who knows what our future shall be: yours and mine, mine and the new computer's. Perhaps it will be a fruitful time for us all.

Today, still no Lausanne, I'm sorry to say. But let me share with you instead this very lovely thing I just found on the Radio Lab website.

Also, please note I just embedded a video like a grownup blogger for the very first time. See? The computer and I are already bonding.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Home again, home again. Jiggity jig.

Bonjour. I am back.
Shall we just level with each other? I have actually been back for two weeks, but I have a somewhat ambivalent relationship with my blog. (Oh, that word. How I continue to hate that word. How can one have a warm and fulfilling relationship with something that sounds like a more than usually smelly swamp?)

When I logged in, I saw that I apparently have one follower. I find that pretty amusing, actually. It's like a fledgling cult. Anyway, follower, whoever you may be, I am sorry to have let you down. I will now try to mollify you (and any passers by) with the unprecedented use of...PHOTOS. I know. It's a big step. It is also highly likely that it will never happen again, but for now, let's just enjoy it, shall we.

Let's see. I promised you stories. I'm not sure that I have stories per se, but I have remarks aplenty.


First of all, two things. Switzerland is beautiful. Really beautiful. Like the way you imagine Switzerland? It's just like that. Even as we descended toward the Geneva airport, it looked like we were flying over a storybook kingdom: tidy little fields, imposing mountains, stone chateaux, little people frolicking lakeside. Switzerland is also staggeringly expensive. If you have a whole lot of cash lying around that you'd like to get rid of, I recommend a Swiss vacation. $22 salad? No problem. More than a hundred bucks for pizza for three? Absolutely.


1. Geneva has a lake. Well, it doesn't really belong to Geneva; it is a very, very big lake. However, perhaps best to keep that to yourself. The fine people of Geneva don't know it. In fact, they call this very large lake "Lake Geneva." Turns out they're the only ones. Everyone else scattered around the perimeter of this lake for miles and miles calls it "Lac Leman." It is extra special in Geneva though, because it doesn't just lie about being all flat like an ordinary lake. No, no. It also shoots straight up into the sky. Those crazy Genevois.

2. If water shooting into the sky isn't enough excitement for you, you can also play very large chess. Or have a Hugenot villager help you with a computer.

3. Geneva, incidentally, is festooned with banners and posters about Calvin. Not the boy with the tiger. The other one. I think maybe they don't know he wasn't that fun of a guy. Keep it under your Hugenot hat along with the news that they share the lake. Those posters can't have been cheap and I'd hate to disappoint them.

4. Ice cream seems to be available every six steps in Geneva. Obviously, this is as it should be.


Ha. You weren't expecting that, were you? Among the things available in Geneva, is a very fast train to Paris. Three and a half hours, in fact. I tried to resist it, but I couldn't. I have no pictures of Paris, but you surely know what Paris looks like. If not, at least you have the internet. Go ahead. Google "Paris images." See? It's a very beautiful city, isn't it? I was there for one day. I know. Terribly extravagant, but that was enough time to have lunch with a friend, buy some fancy tea, and say a general bonjour. I have only one thing to tell you. If you are in Paris on the 13th of July, people may tell you that there will be fireworks because there is an alleged tradition of celebrating Bastille Day the night before Bastille Day. You are right to be dubious. Do not sit on a bridge for an hour waiting for these fireworks. Because these people are liars.

I'm not too adept with this whole photo thing and as a result it has taken me an uncanny amount of time to tell you very little indeed. But this is fine. This creates suspense. Tomorrow....Lausanne.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Au Revoir

I'm on my way to Geneva, but I will be back in a few weeks with stories to tell.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

They even sing

Context: The San Francisco Mime Troupe is a fifty-year-old political theatre company. They produce a play on some socially relevant theme every summer and perform in local parks. They are not, nor to my knowledge have they ever been, mimes. I don't know why they're called that. Perhaps if you were to do the research that I am too lazy to do, even with the aid of the internet, you would discover that the word "mime" has some connotation of communist artist collective. Anyway, as with anything that you've been familiar with all your life, you tend to assume that everyone else in the world is also familiar with it. You are rarely correct. To wit the following conversation with a friend visiting from Boston.

The group of us who had seen the play (speaking over one another):
The end message was "refuse to pay the interest on your credit cards" rather than "live within your means," which we agree is problematic, but very typical of the Mime Troupe...

Visiting friend who met us in the park after the play (interrupting):
How the hell do they get that across in mime?

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Point of view

For the past several minutes I have been scrolling through a list of events happening in San Francisco tomorrow night. Among them is a "Knife Skills Class." When I see that it is being held at Sur la Table, a kitchen supply store, I realize these knife skills have to do with cooking. But when I first read it, I was certain it had to do with knife throwing. And that seemed perfectly plausible.

Frankly, I'm a little disappointed.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Going backwards

There has been much talk in the news of late about a reverse discrimination case. The term has always irked me. As has "reverse racism." According to Webster's, the relevant definiton of discrimination is: "a: the act, practice, or an instance of discriminating categorically rather than individually b: prejudiced or prejudicial outlook, action, or treatment."

So tell me, please, where does the reverse come in? Is not discrimination or racism against whites simply discrimination or racism? Something about that "reverse" has always struck me as unnecessary at best and arrogant at worst. Hey, white people, guess what? We're not that special. When people judge us because we're white it's not the reverse of making judgements about other, non-white people based on race--it's the SAME. And--surpise--we don't enjoy it any more than anyone else has ever enjoyed it. Yep. Ouch.

And anyway wouldn't reverse descrimination more accurately be acceptance? Maybe we should give that one a whirl.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Our Town

In case you are unfamiliar with San Francisco:

1. It is June 25 and it is pretty much as cold out as January 25. Granted, that's not so very cold as Januaries go, but it is pretty fucking cold for June.

2. Today Michael Jackson died. There are many possible reactions to this news. One of them would be to call twenty of your friends and improvise a sort of Michael Jackson tribute bicycle parade. The guy on the lead bike would have a sort of bike trailer on which he'd tow a huge boombox; he would also fasten some very large speakers to the handlebars and then, at top volume, he would play a Michael Jackson mix. All the other cyclists would trail behind. Others would join you as you pedaled around the city.

That wasn't my reaction, but it was definitely someone's because that parade went past me twice on my way home tonight.


There's a new store opening in the Haight and, for a change, it is not a store that sells bongs. It is a store that sells grow lights. An entire store dedicated to grow lights. For all your, um, indoor urban gardening needs.

Don't worry, though. When your crop comes in you can buy a bong at any of five stores within half a block.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Breaking news

I am on an NPR music mailing list, and they like to keep me abreast of the latest news. Therefore, I am able to tell you that Bjork has a new album and that she seems to be as much of a lunatic as ever. Sort of comforting, really. No?

Incidentally, I'm not sure how long that link will be active, but even if it's only for the next three minutes, I think that'll be long enough for you to learn "Declare Independence" by heart. It appears to be comprised of one sentence.

In other news, I am told that John and Kate have broken up. I'm sure that's quite sad for them, but I was surprised that it was of sufficient importance to be discussed on the morning news. Who, pray tell, are John and Kate? Maybe it's a new trend in news. Perhaps newscasters now just choose common names and events and allow everyone to whom that news applies feel a greater sense of importance. Tomorrow, stay tuned for, "Steve and Jennifer announce their engagement" or "Matt and Stephanie file for bankruptcy."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Love stories

I have a big crush on a cafe. Is that wrong? My friend Mathew, who has a very keen eye for the aesthetically pleasing, took me to Corner a couple weeks ago and ever since, I find I think about it wistfully. It was so sunny there. And I love the wallpaper with the birds so much. And the tables are so pleasing. And the bathroom has all those candles in mason jars. I think about Corner all the time. If it had a locker, I'd slip it a note between classes. It's just that charming.

Last night at about 10pm, I took my friend Meridith there and found it was equally delightful at night. Mostly this was due to the fact that from the moment we walked in we were treated like regulars or maybe even friends. Our waiter (who I suspect may be an owner or manager or some such) told me it was good to see me. I really don't think he remembers me from the ONE other time I've been in his very busy establishment, but he made me feel as though he did. There was much bonhomie. When he came by to see if everything was all right, I told him that apart from very much wishing the reggae song that was playing (and playing and playing) (sample lyric: "We smoke the weed. We smoke the seed.") would end he called up to the DJ--"Hey. Can you turn it up? She can't quite hear the lyrics. Yes, her. Right here." That sounds kind of mean, actually, but it was funny at the time. He came by later and said, " I know this seems like the same song, but I promise it's different. This one is about the herb instead of the weed and seed." The DJ eventually transitioned to another genre and we were there for two hours or so without noticing the time passing. Not bad for a Monday night. I love feeling like an insider. Thanks, Corner. Do you want to go to prom?


On Saturday night I saw "Away We Go," a movie that is alternately hilarious and deeply touching. A movie that made me insanely jealous of Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida--sometimes because they wrote a great screenplay and sometimes because they are married and presumably in love, but mostly both at the same time. Also a movie that made me cry copiously even after I got home.

Hot tip:
Maybe don't go alone to a movie about true love when you are:
1. Older than the characters who keep talking about how they ought to have their lives sorted out by their age
2. Single.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Note for the future

Dear Advertisers,
Please never make another commercial that employs either the phrase "in these tough economic times" or the phrase "dads and grads." Really. There's no need.

Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.

Friday, June 12, 2009

In praise of naps

It is the last day of school. The last day of the last week of school. A week that has kicked my proverbial arse. Lordy, but I am tired. Today involved emotional farewells; yearbook signing (yes, I get a yearbook even though I graduated from high school in 1988. I only let the cool kids [read: the five kids I actually know] sign it.); a delivery of pizza for 400 people; 27 more calls from parents about parking for graduation although I sent them DETAILED information about this very topic months ago; and, in a particularly dramatic finale, a request to purchase a replacement leather bag for a student since her chemistry teacher had accidentally set hers on fire in class.

I am ready for my nap.

The truth is, though, that I take a nap on most days, even days when nothing has been set on fire. I go home, set the kitchen timer, lie down on the sofa, and sleep deeply for half an hour. Then I am prepared to go out and do things at night during what I like to think of as my real life.

My neighbors get up much earlier than I do and manage to stay up all day without too much difficulty. In their house, napping is reserved for the one family member who is not yet two years old. Nevertheless, in an attempt to get their toddler to stop yelling in the hall outside my apartment, or knocking on my door/rattling my doorknob, they tell her that she needs to be quiet because I am asleep. "Shhh," they tell her in French (the father is French), "Kari fait dodo." This is basically equivalent to "Kari go night-night." Now, clearly, they have chosen to say this because it is easier than explaining to a baby that one needs to hold it down out of respect for the neighbors, but the truth is that at around 5:30pm, I am very aware of her little voice on the other side of the wall saying, "Kari dodo? Kari dodo?" because she usually wakes me up.

Shhhh Sabrina. Kari fait dodo.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009


It's about 1am on a Tuesday night. Until an hour ago it was Daniel's birthday. And so, I spent the evening in a bar surrounded by jazz musicians (I think I truly am the only person he knows who is not a musician) among whom the birthday boy was easily the handsomest and also, unexpectedly, one of the people I love most in the world. I got to wear a good dress, drink some gin, eat some pizza, and speak some French. And then, when it truly wasn't reasonable for a girl with a day job to stay any longer, I stepped back outside only to find that it was raining. A light, warm rain such as we don't usually get in San Francisco. The air smells green. I walked in my loud boots and purple coat right down the middle of the glistening street, partially because it's less creepy than the sidewalk at this hour and partially because it's more fun.

Every so often your life looks just like you always hoped it would. When that happens, it's best to notice.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Perhaps I should concentrate on my breathing

Recent experience suggests that I talk too fast to conduct business on the phone with the Zen Center.

That may be why I so much love the yoga segment on Jonathan Goldstein's WireTap. Go here, scroll to "Lew Wasserman." Really, I urge you to listen to all of it (and then listen to every available episode), but if that seems overwhelming and you just want the yoga part, it starts at the 18 minute point.

I'm not that great at being a Californian. And I'm a native.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Parking: The scourge of my life

I have lived in my apartment for more than twelve years. Among my favorite things about it are the two huge windows in my living room. Aside from the obvious resulting brightness, they allow me to be inside (and you know how I enjoy inside), but still feel part of the neighborhood goings on. Sunday mornings I will sometimes sit the table with my tea, NPR on the radio, and just do some serious window gazing.

Last night when it got dark, I got up to close my curtains and was very surprised to see that a "No Parking" sign had evidently been installed sometime during the afternoon. It's an official sign--a "No parking 8-10am on Fridays" sign. It is tall. And ugly. And framed quite neatly in the middle of my window. My view of the world is now bisected by the DPT. Had they installed it four feet up the street, it would be in front of no one's window, but they don't care about that sort of thing very much. Curiously, that block has been a Friday street cleaning zone for the past ten years. Why the sudden need for a new sign at all?

I shouldn't be so saddened by a street sign. Rationally, I know this. And yet, when I see it, it kinda makes me want to cry.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


I feel the most single on Sunday afternoons.
Funny. You'd think it'd be Friday nights.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Vive la revolution!

There is a classroom directly over my office. On some afternoons it sounds like 18 or so people are playing tackle football up there. Plenty of yelling and running and crashing. One time it proved to be the hip-hop dance class that had been ousted from their usual ground-floor practice space. Today I wasn't so sure. But then I believe I heard the mighty roar "Three shouts for freedom!"and I figured it out. What's happening over my head even as we speak is no less than a fight to the death against a fascist regime.

It's also a musical.

But I guess they're planning to rehearse the songs after they finish practice-killing each other.

Oh...wait. Here comes the guitar...RIGHT NOW.

Ah, high school.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Um. Yeah. That would be me.

Because I've met Bryan Mason maybe four times in my life, it's very important that I keep track of his drinking buddies, so I just read this article.

In said article, there is this little paragraph:

But Twitter has come under fire. The company doesn’t make much money. People complain that the service is trivial and solipsistic. Asked about the criticism, Mr. Stone smiled and said, “That’s like people saying, ‘Why would I ever carry a phone around when I have one in my kitchen?’ ”

Presumably when Mr. Stone made that remark, there was hearty laughter all around. Which leads me to believe that Mr. Stone wouldn't like me very much. Although, to be fair, my phone is in the hallway; there's no room in the kitchen.

Friday, May 08, 2009


people other than me put things I write online. Like today, for example.

And that's always quite exciting.

This will get you to The Morning News--and there I'll be.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Bad news/Good news

I was feeling quite peevish having just gotten a parking ticket while doing an errand for work. This errand involved visiting an enormous and beautiful house that bred an uncomfortable level of covetousness. Mind you, I have no need of a house that even approximates the size of this house. Indeed, my entire apartment, which comprises space enough for one, would very nearly fit in this house's kitchen. And yet. I wanted it. I mean, maybe I could invite twelve-fifteen friends to live there with me. Or I could start a small boarding school or something. Whatever. The details can be worked out later. Just Give. Me. The. House. Anyway, it was that sort of errand. So, parking ticket? Really? Is San Francisco just collectively flipping me off? "Ha ha. You can't afford to buy a studio apartment in this town, even if it has no closet or bathtub, but you know what you can afford? This fifty dollar parking ticket. Have a nice day." Yup. Fifty bucks. For a street that is not any cleaner than it was before, because no one realized they needed to move their cars. Why? Because the sign says "Street cleaning 11am-1pm on 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month." And who the hell can figure that out without a calendar? I thought about it for quite some time and concluded that today is the second Thursday of the month. Guess what? It isn't.


I hate everybody.

But when I got back to work, my friend Sarah, who knows about many, many fantastic things, sent me a link, this very link, in fact. And it turns out that someone is doing a project to see if passers by will aid a friendly robot if he happens to get lost or stuck on his way to his destination. And you know what? They totally will.

So, I take it back.
I don't hate everybody after all.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


This morning on my way to work I saw several dozen large bright gold coins scattered over the sidewalk. Too bad I wasn't there a little earlier so I could have seen that pirate trip over the curb.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Conspiracy of hopefulness

On Wednesday, two different friends of mine told me that two different friends of theirs had recently been shot and killed. It left me feeling a bit hopeless.

And then, yesterday, lovely things sneaked up on me.

1. This incredibly beautiful, heartening thing is exactly what you need when you find yourself wondering if everyone is simply determined to shoot everyone else. I saw it thanks to Mighty Girl, who, being mighty, knows how to embed video. Me, I'm just a links girl.

2. Written in multicolored chalk in huge letters on the sidewalk right in front of the doors to the school:

Hey. Sorry 'bout the late notice, but...PROM?

Which is probably the best prom invitation of all time.

3. The incredibly kind man at the party rental place I called. I told him I had a very modest rental in mind--possibly thirty glasses and thirty plates. I asked him how much it would be to have it delivered. He told me $75 and then, practically in the same breath said, "No worries. We can work something out. If I'm in the area, I'll just drop it off. I mean it's a drag for you to drive all the way to South San Francisco for 30 plates. We're a family business. We'll work it out. I live in San Francisco..." So he practically offered to bring me my $36 worth of rentals when he's on his way home some day.

4. Walking home, I passed my favorite neighborhood car. It is impossible not to be cheerful in its presence. It looks just like this, only with no business men.

5. When I got home there was a postcard from Sara in my mailbox. It said, "I was so pleased to receive an actual letter in the mail that I am writing back."

Write a letter. A real one. And mail it to a friend. It is delightful to receive correspondence from someone you love, rather than from strangers requesting funds.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

And she's not even French

Girl in the hallway to her friends: Oh my god, you guys. I dissected a frog during A Period and now I'm starving.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Dear DVD Producers,

First off, let me thank you for making Girls Rock! available for home viewing. It's a fantastic documentary about rock camp for girls, but obviously it's about a lot more than that. It's about girls finding their individuality, about finding courage, about rejecting the notion that there's only one type of body that's desirable for a girl to have. When that one girl transitioned from cheerfully saying "Well, I already hate myself, so high school's not all that degrading." to saying, even more cheerfully, "I'm kinda nifty." I definitely cried. So, rock on. Thanks. But, may I just have a word with the marketing department? Or whoever it is who chooses the previews included on the DVD? Because, frankly, that person should probably be fired. What person in their right mind would precede Girls Rock! with a preview for The Hottie and the Nottie? Is it possible that there's a less appropriate choice anywhere? Paris Hilton is the absolute antithesis of EVERYTHING that the women at Rock Camp try to instill in girls. It is as offensive as having a preview for hardcore porn on an inspirational Christian video. Seriously. Be ashamed.



Tuesday, April 28, 2009


On Saturday, I went to the SF Beer Fest, which, because I don't actually enjoy beer all that much, was not ideal. But I was invited, and so I went. It was held at Fort Mason in an enormous enclosed pier type of place where I imagine they once used to repair ships. Only there were no ships. Just beer. And dudes drinking beer out of very, very small commemorative plastic steins. And squealy chicks similarly quaffing. And throngs of people waiting at the pizza booth for pizza that never came. It was what I imagine a frat party would be like if a frat house were the size of an airplane hangar.

Every ten minutes or so, a mighty roar would make its way through the crowd. It was like the auditory version of the wave. Only louder than whatever you're imagining. A great swelling cacophony reverberating off the concrete floor. Since yelling randomly while hoisting a tiny stein is among Things I Do Not Do, I would just wait till it was over and pick up the conversation where we'd left off. After this had happened about ten times, my companion said, "You know, in any other country a crowd at a beer festival might break into spontaneous singing. Or maybe some kind of folk dancing. In America, the best we've got is apparently an inarticulate bellow."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Brass, Bows and Beats

My friend Sarah, open water swimmer (recently stung by a jellyfish. yikes.) and librarian extraordinaire, is also taking trombone lessons. Because she is just that awesome. Mind you, I had never heard of Adam Theis, her trombone teacher, but when Sarah told me to come to Brass, Bows, and Beats, his hip-hop symphony, I bought a ticket. What an exceedingly good idea that was. The show was on Saturday night and I wanted to mention it, but felt that I really lacked the vocabulary to talk about it. Fortunately, my colleague Kirk Hamilton, an amazingly accomplished musician, composer, and arranger himself, did not lack the vocabulary. Kirk is perhaps the most enthusiastic person I have ever met, but I don't think his excitement here is one bit overstated. Here's another review that talks about the overarching sense of community fostered by the work. It really was thrilling. Anything that involves a 48 piece orchestra, dueling fiddles, an accordion solo, a DJ, and seven hip-hop vocalists is worth checking out. Just for the record.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Ohhh. Why didn't you say so?

With alarming frequency throughout my life, I have been greatly smitten by men who, despite allegedly finding me clever and charming and lovely, have refused to date me. In some cases, these men essentially begged me to save myself and run for the hills. Because I am a woman, I chose to ignore that part. I like to believe I am not the only woman on Earth for whom this is true (please let me not be the only woman on Earth for whom this is true), but what sets me apart is that two of these men went on to write books about their screwed up relationships. Full-length books. Can you imagine how satisfying that is? While everyone else tries to make do with He's Just Not That Into You, I've got personalized volumes. This is perhaps the upside of being attracted to writers. Downside: neuroses galore (on their part) leading to pointless pining (on my part). Upside: later explanatory tomes.

One man, who shall remain nameless in some sort of tip-my-hat-to-internet-anonymity move (hilarious in that approximately seven people read this and you all already know his name) has written no fewer than three novels in which the various protagonists suffer from remarkably similar forms of emotional paralysis despite having fabulous women besotted with them. And now, my friend Andy (who, yes, really is my friend, and whom I stopped trying to date years ago) has written a book called The Ramen King and I: How the Inventor of Instant Noodles Fixed my Lovelife. It will be released next month. If you think I'm not on the edge of my seat waiting to read that book, you're crazy. Even if you have no personal stake in Andy's love life, I recommend it to you. Really. Go check it out. Andy is the writer I wish I were. Without having read a single page, I can guarantee that it will be smart and funny and heartfelt because that's what his writing is always like. Which is why I developed a crush on him in the first place. Beware. It might happen to you.

There are approximately three other men on my Why-Oh-Why list, but they are not writers, so I guess I'll never know. Still, two outta five means I sleep 40% better than I otherwise would. We should all be so blessed.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Helluva town

Let's begin with another little glimpse into my flawed character, shall we? All week it has been sneakily freezing, which is to say, beautifully sunny with a cruel icy wind. During these chilly days, I've been peevishly at work, doing little and writing nothing. Today is Saturday. An extravagantly summery Saturday. The world is my proverbial oyster. So I opt to stay in my cold apartment in front of the computer. A device in front of which, to recap, I've been sitting all week. Conclusion: I am ridiculous.

This time last week I was in New York. I feel a bit glamorous just typing that. New York is that sort of place. Every time I get home from NY, I have to talk myself out of the NY fantasy. I remind myself that if I actually lived in there, I would have to suffer through the winter, be weary to the point of nausea every time I had to get on the subway, and exist in a state of abject poverty. On vacation, none of this is true. On vacation, NY is a grand adventure. I am all proud and excited when I take the subway and actually emerge where I intended to go; I eat out at ridiculously charming restaurants; my friends are terribly glad to see me because it's been a year or so; I blithely spend hundreds of dollars on theatre tickets; I stay up till it's early and sleep till it's late.

Last week, after being seated on the red eye in front of a screaming seat-kicker (who to be fair, was a small child, not a deranged adult, not that that made me like him any better), I emerged into an unseasonably warm NY day. I dropped my suitcase off at the hotel waaayyyyy downtown and then went uptown for tea at Alice's Teacup, home of hearty scones and horribly spoiled little uptown girls. Throughout the city, trees were in full bloom. Warning: If you want to avoid falling in love with a city, do not go when its trees are in full bloom. I walked to the park where tulips and daffodils were onnly slightly more numerous than visitors to the zoo. I lugged my massive winter coat around and resisted the urge to go up to strangers and say, "I'm not crazy. Really. The weather report said it would be cold." I tried to take full advantage of the lavish beauty of the afternoon, but, feeling increasingly delirious, I headed back to the hotel and pleaded to be allowed to check in early. The kind man at the desk told me that my reserved room was not yet ready, but he could put me in the Junior Suite for no additional charge [mind you, the only reason I'd gone at all was because of a Hotwire deal of $130 a night]. Oh, all right. If you must put me in the suite, I suppose I can accept it.

Up to the 50th floor. From the hallway, there is a beautiful view of the Brooklyn Bridge and City Hall. From the, ahem, living room of room 5002, there is a view of the Statue of Liberty; from the bedroom an expansive view of the Hudson. I stand there laughing. The room is larger than the some friends' NY apartments. I set an alarm clock and crawl into the king-sized bed. The front desk clerk calls "Miss Kiernan? Is everything satisfactory?" Um...yes. Yes, it is. Actually, is it okay if I live here forever?

That night I went to see Jailbait in the West Village (more flowery trees), which was brilliantly performed. In order to make it in time, I ate a very hasty meal at Philip Marie. In fact, I'll bet no one has ever eaten there quite as inelegantly as I did. But I made it, damn it. After the show, I hunted fruitlessly for West 10th Street for the better part of an hour. Apparently, from Bank Street, W. 10th Street is basically a figment of one's imagination. At the point I was going to give it up, it popped into view, so I had a sangria at Alta beside a young woman who became increasingly wasted and eventually drew conspiratorially close to me and inquired whether I had any painkillers. Because I am me, I initially interpreted this to be a request for aspirin. It wasn't. I didn't.

On the way back to the hotel, I had a train misadventure in which the A capriciously began pretending to be an F and took me to the very edge of Chinatown where my fellow passengers urged me to get off before heading into Brooklyn. Sigh. I had to go back to where I started and wait for the E, which is what I ought to have done in the first place. Valuable lessons all around. I left the curtains open and looked at the view until I fell asleep (about seventeen seconds later).

Friday, brunch with the illustrious (which to me is a brilliant illustrator joke, but probably not to anyone else) Sara Varon at Bubby's Pies. She agreed to split the banana cream even though she really wanted the chocolate peanut butter. She's nice like that. Then I got to see my cousin Dan in his new fancy NY life. Sunny Upper West Side apartment with a view. He was giddy with spring fever and on our walk through the park, he pointed out almost every flower individually and greeted them all like the long-lost friends they were.

By the time I went back to the hotel, my dear friend Talya had arrived from Amherst and was gratifyingly agog at our lavish accommodations. Actually, I think she feared I'd gone insane and got the most expensive room on earth, her children's college funds be damned.

We had dinner at Jules Bistro, which I love and which is convenient to the Public where we saw the first preview of a bad play by Craig Lucas called The Something Forest. The Screaming Forest? The Way Too Long Forest? The Is There Really Any Reason For That Man To Be Naked Forest? The Why is Freud a Character in this Stupid Play Forest? Something like that. For me, dinner also featured the first of a great many opportunities to speak French. And you know how I like that. Seriously though, are there any French people in France? Or are they all eating in NY? Not a day went by that I didn't have some French chat.

Oh my, how long this is. You can stop reading at any time.

Saturday it rained, but (Ha! Take that precipitation!) we had matinee tickets, so it made no difference. If The Blah Blah Forest perhaps presented the hypothesis that very long dysfunctional family dramas might be a terrible idea, August: Osage County immediately disproved it. The rain had stopped when we emerged.

In a bold departure from our usual theatre-glutton ways, Tal and I did not go to an evening performance. Instead, we spent many hours over dinner at Barmarche in SoHo. We ate at the bar, which I think is actually the very best place to be if you plan to talk and talk and talk to your friend because, heck, she's right next to you and she can hear everything you say. After dinner, we shared rice pudding at Rice to Riches, which features signs that endlessly highlight the fat content of their product. Things like: "Eat whatever you want; you're already fat." Um...okay. Thanks, I guess. A curious marketing technique that seems to hurt them not one bit. Feeling that our caloric intake was not quite what it might be, we then each had a whiskey at some random bar, before heading back to, ahem, the suite.

Tal left Easter morning, but I had a few hours before I had to go to the airport. I had intended to wander around, but there was a relentless icy wind blowing, so I was delighted to stumble upon what, for me, was a perfect cafe. Doma Cafe on the corner of 7th Ave S and Perry, is a place I would go constantly if I were a local. It is quite small, but crammed with tables. Even though every table was occupied, it was strangely quiet--no one forced to yell at their companion. The house rules are posted on hand-written signs by the counter. "Absolutely NO to-go cups in the cafe. To-go means to go. Slow down." "Please no cell phones in here." "You're welcome for two hours, then it's time to leave." I had french toast at a table for one facing the corner where two huge windows met. A long blossom-covered branch reached into view of the nearer window and was more Eastery than any number of bunnies would have been. I pulled an ancient hardcover copy of The Bobbsey Twins in the Great West off the bookshelf, ate my breakfast, drank my tea, spoke to the requisite French people at the next table and was perfectly happy. The wind had died down when I left (before the two-hour limit, you'll be relieved to hear) and I was able to amble about a bit.

Finally, it was time to go back and fetch my suitcase. But first, I walked over to the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge to say hello. I realize I'd never actually seen it outside movies. It actually does exist. People walk over it in droves. I had a soft-serve ice cream cone, smiled at the people and the fountain in front of City Hall, and then, back on the trusty E, suitcase in hand, went back to JFK.

Now, home in my prosaic real life, I remind myself that somewhere in a fifth floor walk-up, some girl in Manhattan is dreaming of San Francisco.

Monday, April 06, 2009

The mathematics of drinking

I go to a bar with several playwrights. My friend Tim turns to me and says, "Let me buy you a drink." "Oh, no, no." I say. "No, really," he says. "I just talked to my accountant. If I buy you a drink, I can deduct it. Two drinks is "entertainment;" one drink is just me drinking alone."

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Seriously? Aw, c'mon.

Chapter 1. Other People's Pastimes

I am not a big fan of the grown-men-skateboarding-recreationally-in-the-middle-of-city-streets phenomenon that's sweeping San Francisco. This could be because I'm not cool or it could be because I'm a rational human being/sometime motorist who risks offing some dude every time I drive through the neighborhood.

On my way home, I passed the guys who apparently skate in the middle of Cole Street every day at 5:05pm. I don't know if they just happen to start five minute before I walk by every day, or whether they actually do this most of the day. I'm guessing that the latter is more likely. Leaving them to their shenannigans, I crossed over the invisible neighborhood boundary into what I think of as my own neighborhood--generally free from the crazy antics of Haight Street. Imagine my surprise, therefore, when I turned onto the quiet, two-block street that marks the homestretch to chez moi, only to see a twenty-something guy on the sidewalk opposite me remove his pants. When guys on the street remove their pants, it's best to keep walking, and so I did. But seconds later I heard the sound of a skateboard behind me. I turned and, sure enough, there was the same guy skating down the middle of the road. Only now wearing shorts. Because, apparently, they're better to skate in. So much so, that it's worth taking your pants off in the middle of the street in broad daylight to make the change.

Chapter 2. My pastime

After many years of not owning a television (because I am a television junkie and can not be trusted to read books ever again if I were to have a TV), I discovered Hulu (wait. I can watch television shows for free and still not buy a television? Bring. It. On.)and was sucked immediately into the television vortex. Every so often, I would come across a program that was available only through a higher version of FlashPlayer than I have. Typically, I just get over it and move on to something else. Although, in the case when I could access all of season one of "The Riches," become totally, irrevocably addicted to it, and then discover that season two was not supported by my software um....let's just say that was a rough night. Still. There's always Netflix.

In the last few days, I merrily watched a couple of old Alfred Hitchcock movies and the most recent episodes of "30 Rock" and "The Office." All was well. Last night, I returned to a half-viewed movie to watch the end and was confronted with the "Download a higher version of the software" message. What? But I was just watching this thing with no trouble. I tried some other previously viewed things. No dice. Turns out that overnight they've revamped the WHOLE SITE to play only on software I don't have and, no, thanks for asking though, I can't download it because my computer is too old. Noooooo! So, now I must buy a new computer. In order to watch free television.

There seems to be a flaw somewhere in that plan. If I could only figure out what it is....