Tuesday, October 30, 2007

"If" Is The Middle Of Life

Choices I've made:

What if I had gone to boarding school for high school?
I took the Secondary School SAT in eighth grade but attended public school a mile from home. I didn't want to go away for high school.

What if I had gone to the large local state university instead of a small private one fifteen hours up I-5?
I decided I should to see what it would be like to leave home. Honestly, I went telling myself I could come back at semester break if I didn't like it.

What if I had moved to Colorado after college?
I had fallen in love and stayed in Tacoma, then moved to Portland with my girlfriend.

What if I had gone to graduate school in Seattle?
I was waitlisted for UW's School of Social Work in 1995, but didn't reapply the next year because I didn't want to go back to school.

What if I had purchased the Vernonia (OR) Independent newspaper?
I wasn't up to the challenge of being self-employed and bisexual in a town of 2200.

What if I had moved back to California by myself?
Among other reasons, YaYaWOT's husband pointed out that since I was moving anyway I may as well bring Denver D with me.

What if I had stayed at CSU East Bay in 2005?
I was attracted by UC Berkeley's reputation and wanted to go there, just like a high school senior would.

Monday, October 29, 2007

I don't care, and yet...

I'm a little sad about the Rockies losing the World Series in four games. I'm surprised I have any feelings about it at all. I care even less about baseball than I do about football. I only care about football to the extent that vaguely following the 49ers has made it a little easier to live with my mother and my brother, big football fans that they are.

However, I do love Colorado and the Rockies (the mountains, not the baseball team), and the Rockies' Triple A team used to play in Portland when I lived there. I can't remember what they were called, but they had beautiful patches on their hats: A rose in front of Mount Hood.

"There's always next year!"

Sunday, October 28, 2007

An 80's Night

Last night I went to AsiaSF for a Halloween party hosted by No's company, Perfect Party Plans. The Killer Lady, MA, and a couple other people met me there. Wearing suits and Christmas presents in front of their hips, No and Psychopat performed their version of a SNL spoof of Justin Timberlake (to which I was going to link, but NBC demanded it be deleted so it's gone), which was totally hilarious, and there was also a performance by one of the Ladies of Asia.

When I got there the DJs were spinning '70's tunes. I met up with Macho, and No and Psycopat were working and introduced me to a few people, and then another couple guys I know came in. Later the DJs were playing '80's music: Michael Jackson, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen. When they played "Billie Jean" everyone sang it at the top of their lungs and Macho and I busted out our Michael moves.

Several weeks I graduated from high school, I was in this club back when it was called The Underground. You didn't have to produce any ID to get in, though it was not an all-ages club. I was there because friends of mine were doing a light show. I don't remember if they served alcohol to the kids there (though they probably were; amazingly enough, The Underground wasn't closed by the SFPD for liquor license violations until couple years later). I recognized one of the guys in this crowd of teenagers because we had known each other in elementary school. It turned out that half the senior class at MacAteer High School was there that night. The DJ played The Roof Is On Fire and as loud as the music was, Mack's senior class was louder.

Mystery Flower

This plant with orange and yellow flowers appeared in the planter in front of th house a few months ago. I do not know where they came from; they haven't appeared in previous seasons we've lived here.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Cow Tipping

When Bink and I took a fiction writing class together in college. Our professor had the class break into groups and workshop our stories that way, as well as turning them in to him for review. Bink and I weren't usually in the same workshop group, as it happened, but one time when we were one of our classmates had written a story about cow-tipping.

She had never done it, but had heard about it from her roommate, who was from one of the many small towns on the east side of the Siskiyous which send their high school seniors to our college. I don't remember anything about the woman who wrote the story but I remember the story in painful detail: Some teenage boys creep out into field and tip a cow, which drowns in the mud. The story ends with the boys laughing about how they'll have to work for the farmer to pay back the $500 the cow cost him.

Being raised in the city I have spent little time around cows, and everything I knew about cow-tipping was that freshmen at UC Davis were supposedly required to sign a "no cow tipping" pledge during orientation. Bink, however, grew up in an island community where people did have cows and she explained to me that it was a pretty big (and expensive) deal if a cow died. I was irritated that the story was so bad; she was irritated that the writer had so obviously no idea about what she was writing about.

However, this has made cow-tipping a little bit of a running gag for me with Bink. Not cow-tipping itself (of course), but references to cow-tipping. Last winter there was a picture in the Chronicle of a row of birds sitting on the spine of a cow, and the caption was something like, "One, two, three, tiiiiiiiiiiiiip!" I sent it to Bink.

I watched Cars this evening, and I didn't like it that much. It was the "make friends and be a better person" Disney-type storyline, but I found the lead character, Lightning McQueen, totally unlikeable until the last ten minutes of the film. But I laughed and laughed at the tractor-tipping scene. Made the film for me.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Car Kit

I don't know how but Zirpu found an emergency-preparedness company in Utah that sells all kinds of stuff to help you and your family be prepared for an emergency.

Honestly, they sell everything you would need if you wanted to go off into the woods and get ready to survive social-economic collapse, the invasion of Martians, or the takeover of the government by the devil (wait... has that already happened?), short of guns and ammunition. In the case of any of those events Zirpu's already laid in some reference materials (like this and this). They sell #10 cans of freeze-dried everything, water purifiers, stored-food preparation appliances, home-storage cookbooks, and what would otherwise be known as fancy camping gear.

I purchased a 72 hour kit plus a stove and fuel cans. I'll leave the stove combo in the garage with the rest of our emergency gear, but the kit is going in the car. Given how much stuff is in it, I was happy to see the size of the pack. I already keep a change of clothes, a pair of boots, and a sweater and the jumper cables in the trunk, and the trunk isn't that large (due to the electric battery, the seats don't fold down either).

I hope that I am at home in bed with Zirpu when the earthquake happens (I keep my glasses on the bedside table for a reason). It's as likely that I will be at work on an island and he will be at work across the bay. Because it's already known that a lot of people work and study far from home and it is likely that major transportation links will be damaged, it is easy for me to imagine that I may have to walk back to the house if I'm not there. The pack will make it easier for me to make that walk.

The emergency may not be an earthquake. It could be a fire, as our neighbors in SoCal are all too aware, and we could have to jump in our car and bug out. What would we take, if we had time to load up? The computers, the fire safe, a sculpture Phil made that I can't photograph...

Are you ready?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


When communication isn't happening, whose responsibility is it? How do I fix it if it's not my responsibility that the communication isn't happening? I think I know how to handle it if it is my responsibility.

Today I had interaction after request after question misunderstood by the same person all afternoon. This is something she's done before but she seemed to have forgotten how to do almost all of it. I didn't know anything was wrong until she started complaining about how the bags aren't marked. I remarked that we don't mark them because all the bags always are the same thing. Boxes we mark because they aren't the same. She knew this last week.

She asked me, from across a long room, a question about something, to which I said yes - later to learn that she wasn't asking me what I thought she was asking. When she asked I was tied up in explaining something to someone else and I couldn't go to her, and I thought I knew what she was showing me (even though it was from the back side).

At the end of the night I asked if a pile of stuff on a table belonged to someone and she said it was hers. Five minutes later, when the someone else was gone, she says, "That lady forgot this."

How do I deal with this the next time I see her? I didn't realize how frustrated I was about all this until I was driving home.

Monday, October 22, 2007

When The Cat's Away

Zirpu just got back from a few days visiting his mother in New Mexico. I didn't go because by the time his sister and brother and their spouses said they were going, I had already made an important commitment that i would not break, not even for my mother-in-law (does that make me a bad daughter-in-law?).

In the time that Zirpu and I have been together, I have done much more traveling without him than he has done without me. The first year we were together I was on the Executive Council for CASFAA and I flew or drove somewhere every other month. I've gone to Rhode Island, the Northwest, and Colorado on vacation at times, leaving him at home. So this weekend was really unusual, I think the first time he's been away for more than two consecutive nights.

When I'm gone, Zirpu tangles himself in the sheets at night (we think he levitates and spins while sleeping) and eats cheese and crackers for dinner. This time I was at home and he was gone, and I slept and ate as normal. Except that I slept less than seven hours each of the nights he was gone, and that my stomach wasn't very happy with me all of Saturday and I had a screaming headache today until almost 6pm.

"Bed's too big without you
The bed's too big without you
The bed's too big without you
Without you
Without you"

Sunday, October 21, 2007

If your heart is in your dream/ No request is too extreme

I believe this fervently:

If you don't tell people your dreams they can't help you make them come true.

I think perhaps I learned this from my brother. When you're self employed you have to talk to everyone about your business. It's called networking, and No does this for his business daily and I have also talked about his business with acquaintances to help with making connections.

This feeling I have about dreams is bigger than "networking," it's about friendship and kindness and love and about being human. I have not often been in the position of helping people make their dreams come true (well, outside of a financial aid office, anyway). The most amazing thing about doing it though is that it never seems to me like that much of an effort and it makes someone else feel so good.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


Saturday evening at the grocery store: The young woman in front of me in line in wearing a cute black dress, a deep pink headband, leopard-print flats, and mid-60s style eyeliner. Her purse matches her headband. She is purchasing a bottle of Barq's root beer and a bag of Fritos. Of course I immediately assume she's going to a party.

I, on the other hand, have a totally boring selection of stuff in my cart:

six cans of chickpeas
two turkey Polska Kielbasas
two red peppers and two green peppers
a bag of carrots
a head of celery
a bag of cherry tomatoes
a box of raisin bran
a box of shredded wheat

I think it was the low-fat kielbasa and the raisin bran that made me feel like a totally boring adult, even though everything else on the list was for a party. I wanted to go with her, wherever she was going.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Competing and Showing in Dance

Whenever I mention to acquaintances that Zirpu and I ballroom dance, at some early point in the conversation the other person will ask if we compete, and when we'll be on Dancing With The Stars. The Arthur Murray syllabus is supposedly about "social dancing" and not competition, but there are AM competitions for professionals and Pro-Am couples. Certainly there are showcases, small regional ones and big international ones, which I feel, as a student, are how AM can help their students get the feeling of a dance comp without the actual competition.

Zirpu hates performing. He is okay with dancing in group events, when there's other couples on the floor and the attention of the audience (and the judges) is split. I like the idea of performing much better than I like actually doing it. It's kind of scary to walk out on the empty dance floor with just my partner. Then the music starts and everything but the music and the counting fade away, and then suddenly the routine is over and I'm smiling, arms outstretched (probably the longest my arms ever are is at the end of a dance routine).

Dancing for fun is, well, much more fun. We can try out a new step, and keep doing it until we pull it off correctly, or just not do it again. We can drop into the steps that we learned a few years ago, and into steps from a difference dance than the song is playing (like kicking in a little swing into a cha cha) and shrug our shoulders afterwards. We can also ignore most of the technique if we feel like it, and laugh if ignoring technique throws us off. Also, I get to hold my husband close, or wiggle with him, and vice-versa, and that's always a good thing.

However, when I watch a couple like Ben Ermis and Shaleen Archer-Ermis dance, I find myself drawn to the idea of dancing a show dance. It's a fantasy complete with soundtrack, costumes, skill, elegance, romance, and sex.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Shaky Anniversary

I had forgotten this, but yesterday was the 18th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake.

I was in college in Tacoma at the time, and a friend of mine had just driven up from San Francisco that day. My housemates and I, with my friend, were munching crackers and smoked salmon (made by the Native American stepfather of one of my housemates) during what we called "cocktail hour" when a fellow I was seeing, who had been at home watching the pregame show for the World Series, called. He didn't have a phone and had driven to his friend's house to tell me about the earthquake (we didn't have a tv set, and probably wouldn't have been watching it anyway).

We found a tv; one of our unofficial housemates had a small tv tucked away in the basement. It was hard to understand the pictures since no one really knew what was going on, and since the fire in the Marina was getting most of the attention it was hard to know how the rest of the city had fared.

My friend and I immediately started making phone calls. It took me several tries to get through to Mom, and while I was talking to her my aunt called me from New England. Mom had called her first in case lines got too crowded to get calls in or out, so my aunt could call me and No (who was at San Diego State then) and let us know Mom was all right. My friend talked to his family, who were also all right. He was feeling strange, as it seemed like he had left town just in time to miss the quake.

As time went on, the people I waited for news of their situation grew. It really felt like a ripple; the circle got wider and wider as I wondered, "What happened to....?" Mom had just sat down for a meeting with two other people, and they ducked under the desk, a table, and stood in the doorway. Mom's house is on bedrock and she worked close to home, where nothing was damaged. The Singhs lost a couple of tea cups at their house, but the building next door to the warehouse where most of them were working that afternoon fell down. Mom's friend Kupia, who lives in the Marina, had to move out for a few weeks. An acquaintance of one of my housemates survived the sandwiching of 880 in Oakland.

Now they are telling us that an earthquake on the Hayward Fault is due anytime. I've been hearing that all the years I've lived here, though when I was a kid it was the San Andreas Fault that was going to destroy everything (as it was in 1906 and 1989). We lives up the street from the Hayward Fault, but it's just as likely that Zirpu and I would be at work when an earthquake happens. I hope we're not, because both of us work on the other side of bridges and tunnels from home. I really hope we're not on our way between home and work.

We live on the edge of the continent, along a couple of fault lines. We have a responsibility to be prepared.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

No Need for Happy Hour

I know I just wrote Happy Hour in Alameda, but I realized today that I have a pretty mellow job.

In five months I have only walked out of the food bank thinking "I need a drink" once or maybe twice. Going out for a drink with coworkers, while not common, did happen from time to time, particularly during high season and during course registration periods. I actually probably had the most after-work drinks while I was working at a drug treatment program (though, as one of only two or three "normies" on the staff, I did not do this with my coworkers). This was probably due to the power of suggestion and The Famous Irishman's penchant for Spanish coffees and mango margaritas.

At the food bank, there's no need to process the furious pace or recount crazy-making conversations with students or parents or complain about the relentless pile of files in the inbox. We don't have any of those.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


When I listen to people speaking Spanish, I wonder, as I grasp for familiar words, if I sound like I'm speaking English that fast, if people learning English listening to me and my friends can't catch everything because of swallowed letters and poor enunciation. When I'm having a conversation in Spanish, particularly on the phone, I find myself saying "despacio, por favor" ("slowly, please") until they probably feel like they are pausing between each word while I catch up.

I've been thinking about this recently because last week I caught part of a radio program called Latino U.S.A, during which several Latino authors read from essays included in How I Learned English. Jose Serrano's essay was about how he learned to speak English by listening to Frank Sinatra. Sinatra, who was from Hoboken originally and whose accent never totally faded, had famously clear enunciation, which I've heard he learned by speaking with marbles in his mouth.

I know I don't speak totally clearly. My mother would often comment on the speech of her "native Californian children" whenever we said something like "Hurry up" or "It's in the drawer." When Zirpu and I are tired both of us drawl. But having been raised reciting "Hail to thee, blithe spirit/Bird thou never wert" in honor of Mom's elocution teacher Miss Spencer, I'm no mushmouth.

This morning I was showering at the gym when someone opened the curtain, despite the sound of water and the towel hanging on the hook next to the shower. She quickly shut the curtain and when I stuck my head out I said to her back, "Usually when there's a towel, it means someone's there!"

Except what it sounded like was, "Yooj'ly wen derz a towel, smeensumonezere!"

Monday, October 15, 2007

That's All You Have To Do

Yesterday I stopped by Boegle Blog Bloggery and learned that National Blog Posting Month is in November. It is sponsored by the folks at National Novel Writing Month, or by friends of theirs. The whole thing of NaBloPoMo is that you have to post every single day of the month. I've posted 284 times in the 295 days since Christmas Eve last year (and some of those posts covered several days in one post), so I think I can accomplish that.

The only thing I don't like about signing up for NaBloPoMo is that I had to join some social networking thing called Ning to join. It's bad enough that I'm on Tribe; I refuse to explore Ning at all and have the barest of "profiles."

, you may recall, is about writing a 50,000-word novel during the month of November. I tried doing this last year, after encouragement from Tea and Shobi-wan. I started twice and got to like 7,000 words on one of them. You have to write around 1670 words a day to write a novel in 30 days. I stopped; I had to give myself permission to quit.

Last summer and fall I was really depressed. Shobi-wan said that she saw it, and tried to encourage me with "If you need anything, call me any time"-type offers, but I didn't think anyone knew what bad shape I was in, because I didn't even know. A lot of the free-floating anxiety I experience from time to time appeared then, and the flying thing got really bad last summer. I went to the gym every day just to get out of the house and to have done something. That's why I say that staring to volunteer at the food bank saved my life, because working there gave shape to my days and connected me with people who didn't want anything from me and were easy to be around.

I set myself this goal to write every day and instead of making me feel better, it made me feel worse. Every day I didn't write 1700 words, or any words at all, was another day I felt like I failed. Having "the novel" waiting for me every day was like having a self-esteem-sucking monster sitting on my desk, chanting, "You can't write and you never could! Nah-nah!" I didn't see that at first, but as soon as I realized that this monster was sitting on my desk, I pulled out of NaNoWriMo. I already felt like I had failed at what I thought was going to be the job of my dreams, and NaNoWriMo felt like more coals on my head.

I'm not going to sign up for NaNoWriMo this year, but NaBloPoMo? Totally doable.

Visit NaBloPoMo

Sunday, October 14, 2007

When I Knew I Had To Face Another Day

I snapped on the radio as I left the gym this morning and found myself listening to Prairie Home Companion today (it was yesterday's broadcast). A woman was singing with Garrison, and the woman turned out to be Carole King. When they finished singing that song, Garrison offered to sing the next one with her, but, she said that as it was "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" that it would be better if Jerlyn Steele sang it with her.

Whenever I hear this song I think of Phil's best friend growing up. During our freshman year in Tacoma, A was attending a boarding school in New Jersey, and my relationship with A started as little notes on the bottom of Phil's letters , such as "PS: Samatakah says to say 'hi.'" Eventually I was writing my own "clever" notes under Phil's signature, and as the year went on we started mailing all kinds of stuff to A, like bottle labels and flyers for campus events.

(Toward the end of the academic year, Phil sent him an unhusked coconut by writing his address right on the coconut. A husked it and sent it back the same way).

As fall term went on A and I wrote longer messages to each other in Phil's letters. Over winter break A sent a Christmas card with a letter directly to me at home and we exchanged a lot of letters in January and February. In future years, I understood that February was my winter doldrums period, but during my first winter in the northwest I didn't know that, and just felt lousy, irritated and isolated. One night, I sat on my bunk bed and wrote the lyrics to "A Natural Woman" down so I could send them to A. I kept hitting "stop" on my cassette player between lines to make sure I had them all down correctly. I'm sure I felt like he was the only one I could "really talk to" because he wasn't in the midst of my college life, and that made me feel like I could be my "real self" with him. Writing him that letter did make me feel better.

I met A only one time, when he came to the Bay Area to scout colleges in the early summer. That was twenty years ago... I just realized that.


For me, it started with Angela's Ashes.

I just finished The Glass Castle, a memoir about a miserable childhood (as a former counter for the US Census, I was interested to see proof of why the government asks how many toilets in the residence). I've read Bad Blood: A Memoir, Learning Joy from Dogs Without Collars, Running with Scissors, and several others whose titles I don't remember right now. The early parts of these books are a little more fun, when the authors are so young that they don't understand how really screwed up things are.

These memoirs make much more interesting reading than happy, "normal" childhoods would. I remember that when I started volunteering at Harry's Mother, the trainees were asked why they wanted to work with run-away, throw-away youth. There seemed to be two camps: Those of us who had survived crappy childhoods with poverty, bad parents, poor parenting, trouble, and/or drugs wanted to be the person who helped them when they were growing up, or who they wished had; and those of us who had had ordinary childhoods and wanted to reach out to those who hadn't been as fortunate as we had been.

Sometimes I feel like I shouldn't be reading these books, being entertained by someone else's unhappiness (though they are not relentlessly unhappy every moment). The authors are telling their stories, though, so it seems that they want someone to read them, to hear them speak about where they come from and who they (and their families) are. I'm drawn in, time after time, and not just to the unhappy childhoods.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Rain and Rainbows

It rained today - soft in the morning and hard in the afternoon. I took my break in my car, as I do most of the time now that the heat is gone, and read my book and listened to the rain on the roof. I've always loved the sound of rain on a car's roof. It's so loud and unabsorbed. I remember one time I had to pull my car over on 122nd Avenue in Portland because it was raining so hard it was as if someone were pointing a really big hose at the windshield. The sound drowned out the radio (ha ha!).

I think the sound of rain on any roof is delicious. I lived in a finished attic for about a year and rainy days and nights were always the best sound. My housemate/landlady had a white cat named Bree who would sit on my chest when I was reading and so I would be forced to listen until she got bored and stalked off. Now, because of the location of the gutter ends on the house, the sound of water crashing into the deck comes along with heavy rain drumming on the roof.

I saw six rainbows today. There was one on the way to work, and five on the way home. Two of them may have been the same rainbow viewed from different directions. One was the mirror image of the other one (in a double rainbow), and Zirpu pointed out the colors were in reverse order (now we know why).

When I was a kid, Grush, who had lived for many years in Hawaii, gave me a book called The Eight Rainbows of 'Umi. I remember that it had beautiful pictures but I don't remember the story, except that every time something significant happened to 'Umi a rainbow appeared. I'm pretty sure the book didn't tell 'Umi's story like this. Anyway, I wound up thinking rainbows were a sign of magic, visions and illusions.

Why are there so many songs about rainbows?

Thursday, October 11, 2007


I baked today. First on the agenda: Blackbottom cupcakes* for Bug, who's halfway through her first term at CSULB. When I was a freshman my mom's friend Grush sent me two coffee tins (remember when coffee came in tins?) of cookies, and in honor of that memory I thought I would send a care package to Bug. However, I make the worst cookies in the world, and Bug and her family love the BBCs, so I whipped up a batch.

I first made these during the summer of 1989. It was kind of a crappy summer; I was working as a groundskeeper at the university and left a relationship (and the housing that came with it) in July. A friend said I could stay with her while she was house-sitting for one of our professors. I slept in a sleeping bag in a room with a bare mattress and kept my clothes in a laundry basket in my car.

I was even less of a baker then than I am now, as in those days the only cooking I did was to make Cats & Dogs (basically, rice, beans, and a package frozen/cooked vegetables, dressed with rice vinegar; not surprisingly, I did the dishes most nights in my communal college house). I must have been flipping through a cookbook owned by Mrs. Professor when I ran across this recipe, and I made the cupcakes because years before I had loved them from the deli near the acting classes I attended after school in junior high. Since then I have made them so often I don't like them anymore, but I'm always happy to make them for others.

This evening I made two dishes of apple crisp**. The food bank received many boxes of apples from a citizen's back yard yesterday, and I brought home several that had bird nibbles on them, at the encouragement of the food bank director. I learned to make apple crisp from one of the few nuns at CSH, in a short attempt by the administration to provide "extracurriculars" to the upper form. Traditionally, even though I'm not Catholic, I say a Hail Mary for Sister Warner when I make apple crisp. It's been so long since I've made it, though, that I've forgotten the last part of the prayer. I hope the intentions count (though Sr. Warner was pretty strict and would probably not agree).

Tomorrow I'm taking one of the dishes of apple crisp to work for the FBD and his family, and Bug will receive her cupcakes tomorrow or Saturday.

* Blackbottom Cupcakes

8 oz cream cheese (easier if room temp)
1 unbeaten egg
1/3 c sugar
1/8 t salt (I usually leave this out)
6 oz choc chips (I usually go over on these, and have been known to increase the filling ingredients by half)
Beat everything but the choc chips together, then stir them in.

3 c flour
.5 c unsweetened cocoa
1 t salt
2/3 c oil
2 c sugar
2 t baking soda
2 c water
2 t vanilla

Beat well.

Fill cupcake liners 1/2 full with chocolate batter. Top each with 1 t cream cheese mixture (I usually do a tablespoon).
Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes. Makes about 30 cupcakes.

** Apple Crisp

4 c sliced tart apples (about four medium apples), peeled, cored, and chunked or sliced (I have an apple gizmo, my favorite kitchen gadget)
3/4 c packed brown sugar
1/2 c flour
1/2 c rolled oats (I used Grape-Nuts tonight because I didn't want to dash to the store. I hope it works)
1 t cinnamon
1/4 c allspice
1/3 c cold butter

Place apples in a greased baking dish. In a bowl, combine everything but butter, and then cut in butter till crumbly. Sprinkle over apples. Bake at 375F for 30-35 minutes.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Happy Hour in Alameda

This afternoon the Food Bank Director, one of our volunteers, and I stopped at Rosenblum Cellars Winery so the FBD could drop off something at the end of the day today. Conveniently, the tasting room was nearby so we went upstairs and tasted some wines.

We tried a chardonnay, a rose, a zinfandel, a petite syrah, a mourdevre, and a couple others, and I tried to follow the wine conversation. I'm barely above selecting wines by the labels, you see (though the last one we tried because of the label wasn't bad - Wilfred Wong gave it an 85). Turns out that the FBD knows more than a bit about wine, and the volunteer has done a great deal of traveling in Europe, and the guy who runs the tasting room is a friend of the FBD. I just nodded and tried to look wise when the three of them were discussing how French wines differ from California wines, that Cali wines are fruitier due to the longer growing season.

I've been reading about the Mondavis but chose to say nothing, which I think really was wise.

They had one of these gadgets in the tasting room. The guys I was with smelled and tasted a difference between the wine run through this thing and the wine that wasn't. The volunteer bought the one they had for his husband, because it is a pretty neat thing and it looks cool when the wine is going through it, too. I think that Zirpu would dig the Vinturi just for the physics of it, and when I mentioned this to the volunteer he said that he was buying it for his husband for the same reason - though they are going to France for many months next year and he's planning to take it along.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


Zirpu's parents don't live far away by air but live a couple hours from the airports nearest their homes.

KT's parents do also.

It seems like my and No's spouses got a better deal: Mom lives close to two airports. But then, we live close to her also, which I think they think is all right.

Monday, October 8, 2007

October 11

Thursday is National Coming Out Day.

I've been thinking about how I'm going to be out and how I'm going to come out. Of course I will be at work during the first part of the day. I've come out to a few of the volunteers, and to the Food Bank Director, but not to any of the people who work on Thursdays. I don't exactly feel comfortable with them yet.

I usually come out very clumsily. "Girlfriend" is a slippery word. Often, I use mentioning the Bi Women's Group as my tool for coming out, but sometimes when I don't really plan to come out I mention the group and then have to explain its purpose when I get the feeling that the listener is interested in joining a women's group (which is what happened the last time I came out).

Is it important to come out? Yes. Is it easy? No. And I've been doing it for a long time.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Counting, Counting

Most of the time when I am in the car I listen to talking radio (read: NPR) but do occasionally listen to music. And now I'm noticing that I'm counting it.

ONE, two, three, ONE, two, three, hey this is a waltz

ONE, two, three, four, and ONE, two, three, four, and wow a cha cha

Slow, quick, quick, slow this song is a rumba

Little, little, big, do they know this is a bolero?

It might be time to go back to the dance studio.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

I Tried

Whenever I see young women and men in a restaurant in fancy dress between Easter and Memorial Day, I know they are "prom kids." When I did it, I felt so grown up, especially in twelfth grade when I wore high heels with my black dress with yards of skirt circumference. Going to a restaurant with white tablecloths and linen napkins with friends and not family, was a big part of it.

I really wanted the proms I attended, particularly my senior year, to be the fulfillment of those coming-of-age fantasies I (and not just I) had about prom. Ideally, I would attend with a boyfriend, I would be beautiful and graceful, I would stay out all night having a wonderful time, and all of the drama I was experiencing at the time would be resolved, or at least cease to matter.

In fact, I never had a real boyfriend in high school and while there was romance, none of it involved public displays of affection like walking across campus with our hands in each other's pockets or our pinky fingers entwined like in the opening scene of Sixteen Candles. No one ever asked me to a dance, or even asked me to dance at a dance, so I went to proms with friends. For my senior prom I asked a friend on whom I had a crush, so I was halfway there. Maybe he would "wake up and see me" during prom night and that would kick off our relationship.

This is what movies do to girls (see above-mentioned film, not to mention Disney).

I dressed up, even submitting to Mom's administration of blush and lipstick and insistence on gloves (I don't know what her thing about gloves is; she asked me and even KT about wearing gloves in our weddings). I did find the look on my friend's face rather gratifying, though at the same time I was disappointed that he didn't see me that way in jeans and a sweatshirt.

I could barely manage walking on my new high heeled shoes and spent most of the night destroying my patterned nylons by dancing barefoot. I flirted with the waiter at dinner and at the dance a student teacher and imagined they flirted back. I did stay out all night, but spent more than half the time after the prom itself fighting with another friend. I'm sure my prom date was confused by what was happening, as we barely understood it ourselves. The fight was because the friend brought as his prom date a girl I was in love with (without knowing it) while he was attracted to me, and most of the night after the dance was a swirl of anger, jealousy, guilt, frustration, and confusion. The drama I was hoping would be resolved came to the prom too.

I wanted to be changed by the prom experience. I tried to, and thought I would, cross over to "womanhood" that evening but nothing changed. I still preferred jeans and sweatshirts, I still looked at boys primarily with confused feelings of dread and failure, I still wasn't seen by them as "girlfriend material" whatever that was. The drama of the whole semester actually continued into the summer and my gender and sexual identities weren't resolved that night.

In retrospect I see that that's a lot of pressure to put on myself about a dinner and dance. At least by then I knew I where I was going to college.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Warm Head, Warm Heart

I haven't cared too much about hats since moving from the Northwest. Generally it doesn't get cold enough for me to have needed a hat in the past. However, since shaving off most of my hair, I find I feel more chilly more often than I used to be. I think it's the combination of cold air on my neck and (if this isn't an old wives' tale) the heat that's not staying in my head since an inch of insulation, thick as my hair is, isn't that much.

The season is turning to fall now. Today and yesterday the sky was clear (today there wasn't even any smog, due to the wind) but the air was chilly. Out at the warehouse, close to the Bay, the wind was cold enough to bring the overall temperature down so that I wore my sweatshirt almost the whole day. The air smells like smoke and cold. I am just starting to think about chili and stew while menu planning.

When it's cold, I often wear one or another of these knit caps. Jujubi made the blue one and I think - though to be honest, I'm not sure - that Bink made the other one (I have a lot of friends who knit, though don't we all?). These hats keep my head, and my heart, warm.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Guess what arrived today!

This is what the food bank's lot looked like yesterday afternoon:

The new trailer arrived on three trucks. The FBD and I went over to watch them "drop" it on the site. We observed some pretty impressive jockeying, as the trailer is 37 feet wide and the lot is 40 feet wide. As each trucker moved his portion of the trailer into place, the other two gave directions. You can't see him, but there's a third trucker standing at the back between the middle part and the part on the left as the latter part slid along the middle part.

If I were to assemble people to play on my team in a pool hall, I'd want these guys.

Saying "I'm Sorry"

Tuesday morning I was leaving the gym, backing the car out between two much larger vehicles. The parking lot is not small but besides the gym there's a credit union, a grocery store, a drug store, a Starbucks, a couple of restaurants, and a recycling center. It's a pretty busy place and I always back out very slowly - especially if I can't see in either direction.

As I swung the car around, I saw the flash of a t-shirt. I never did see the person attached to it until he started yelling, "&^%$$! Look where you're going! $@%#&!" I rolled down the window and turned off Renee Montaigne and Steve Inskeep. I stuck my head out and said, "I'm sorry, I didn't see you," and started to roll away. The slender man in a cap who'd had to jump out of the way of my car cried, "What did you say?!" so I replied, "I said, 'I'm sorry, I didn't see you.'"

He looked embarrassed immediately. He stuck his hands in his pockets and said, "Oh, uh, I'm sorry, too, uh, for my, uh, rude mouth."

I waved and went on my way.

I Want to Ride a Bicycle, I Want to Ride a Bike

The Food Bank Director and his wife are hard-core cyclists. He just passed 5,000 miles on the odometer on his commuter bike, and he and his wife didn't even own a car until a baby was about to arrive. Without baby, they ride bicycles everywhere. The other day he was telling me about the LikeABike. It's a wooden bicycle without pedals that a toddler can push with his or her feet. They plan to get one for baby as soon as he can stand stand up on his own. This bike helps kids learn how to balance, the hard part, before they learn how to ride, the easy part.

Talking about teaching someone how to ride a bike made me think of how I learned to ride one shortly after I turned six. I think it was spring, but winters in San Francisco are so mild that it could have been then. For Christmas, I had received a wonderful pink Schwinn Flyer with a sparkly purple banana seat, tassels on the handles, and a white basket with a pink and purple flower on the front. This description makes me think it is probably the girliest thing I've ever owned that wasn't a dress.

I'd been riding it with one foot on the ground for several months prior; that bike never did have training wheels. I can't remember but J Jump Joyful may have been bike riding by then; certainly her older brother was. We all had vehicles, of course, tricycles and Big Wheels and these things that looked like yellow rafts with wheels and I had a red plastic riding mower with pedals and No had a blue-green plastic sport car with pedals that our parents had had shipped back from France when we came back to the States. We all rode around and around in circles in the big room downstairs, guided by the stoplight my father had found somewhere.

All of us kids must have been there but I only remember JJJ, her dad, and myself at the Panhandle the day I learned to ride the bike on my own. I saw the acorns on the ground and worried that they would "trip" the wheels on the bike. This sounds like a such a cliche, but I really did feel like I was flying as I pedaled, faster and faster, and I felt the bike release from JJJ's dad's hands and I saw the handle tassels stream out and it was no wonder they called it a Flyer!

The section of Panhandle where I learned to ride a beautiful pink and purple bicycle.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Learning Something

I'm watching The War, which I think is the first Ken Burns documentary I've seen. I'm watching it on the DVR so I've only just seen the first two episodes. All of the people being interviewed seem to be remarkably healthy, especially when you know that they all must have been at least in their late 70s when they were filmed. They all look so handsome and beautiful to me.

I think I know a little more than your average bear about WWII but I've learned a couple things already from this documentary:

1) A German submarine blew up a fuel barge in New York City, and the East Coast was the most dangerous shipping lane in 1942.

2) There was a black market for rationed goods in the US. It makes sense, of course, but I've never heard anything about this before.

3) Now I understand where Saipan is.

Monday, October 1, 2007

The Food Bank Trailer Is Dead!

There's nothing but a pile of debris left of this one, and the pieces will get hauled to the dump and recycling center. I'm telling you, it seemed like a kid on a riding lawnmower could have knocked this one down...