On My Mind

Saturday, September 12, 2007: It's Only Been a Year

Funny, that. September to September, and suddenly I feel like writing here again. It's so bloggish to apologize for one's neglect of one's blog, though, that I think I won't say anything more about it.

So: the good, the bad, and the bitchy. Or, if I'm being honest, the good, the good, and the possibly-bitchy. But is that nearly as catchy? No.

Went to see The Jane Austen Book Club today, because of Pajiba's unexpectedly positive review of it. I'd been avoiding the book, along with the Mr. Darcy Takes a Whatever, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman (ARGH!! --although, amusingly enough, the picture used on the cover of that edition is the same one that was used, I believe, on the Arrow edition of Regency Buck. Only on the Regency Buck cover, the bowing man is holding a fan. Which suggests to my Heyer-obsessed mind that Worth has been confused with Avon. It's always possible that Worth had a fan, too, I suppose, but I dislike Regency Buck enough that I don't re-read it and don't want to find out. Worth was classically distant and ambiguous as a hero, but wouldn't Recency Buck be a much better book if Avon had taken Judith in hand? She'd take to it as well as Juliana Marling took to Vidal's treatment, no doubt, but I'd just like to see Avon make Judith stop being so annoying and shut up for once. *ahem* Back to the rant previously in progress.), and Jane and the Unnecessary Authorial Liberties books. I get far too annoyed when people mess with Austen and her characters, or try to get the period right and FAIL MISERABLY, MY GOD, DO THEY REALLY THINK DARCY WOULD BE REFERRED TO AS "FITZWILLIAM DARCY, GENTLEMAN" ON ANYTHING BUT A CENSUS LIST? Right, so that sort of thing generally raises my blood pressure and leads to rants that no one I know can quite appreciate or even understand, and I've finally become wise enough to avoid them. (Except for Sense and Nonsensibility, which is hilarious and worth buying just for the Novel Awards.)

But Pajiba is scathing and bitchy (of course!) and John Williams who revieved TJABC for them is a writer himself in addition to reliably providing literary and literate movie reviews. If the reaction there was good, TJABC might be safe even for one so picky as I. (Catch that grammar there?) And it was. It was beyond safe: it was good. Really, really good. I loved it and laughed and rooted for (most of) the characters and only cringed and wanted to hide once or twice, so it's way up on Bridget Jones from the start. And it didn't fuck up Austen. (Now there's an incongruous sentence for you.) In fact, as wrongheaded as Emily Blunt's Prudie was throughout the first 4/5 of the movie, I loved her just for her rant at the beginning about how the most recent adaptation of Mansfield Park completely distorted Sir Thomas Bertram's character...even if she did refer to him as "Sir Bertram." He's not a knighted Wooster, for heaven's sake. (...hee)

So: that was good, and it made me willing to try the book. I'd gone to the matinee in Newport News (only place within 50 miles that it was playing. The hell?), so it was mid-afternoon when I got out of the theater and I had time to drive back to Williamsburg and get to the library before it closed. I got there, and they had TJABC: the book version available, albeit in large print. Stroke of luck #1. Then I went to Merchant's Square, snagged a parking spot on a sunny Saturday afternoon (unbelievable stroke of luck #2), got a sandwich, apricot wafers, and a creme soda from the Cheese Shop because I hadn't had lunch and some amaretto chocolate cordial balls from Wythe Candy because I love myself. I took the food and the book out to College Landing Park, which was completely deserted (stroke of luck #3). It was 4:00, the light was sunny and golden, I had a lawn chair in my trunk from watching R.T.'s baseball games, and when I sat down there was a Great Egret right across from me and six white swans swimming off to my right. I sat there and ate my sandwich and read my book and looked at the sun on the water and filtering through the trees and watched the birds, and it was wonderful. A perfect thing to do on a perfect afternoon. The book's not bad, either, but I miss the quick emotional hit the movie provides.

That was the good and the good. I'd call it the good and the better, but I don't know which would be which. After I'd been at the creek (College Creek?) for an hour or two I came home, put away my leftover soda and candy and wafers and half-finished book...and went to talk to the neighbors.

See, I have two (sets of) immediate neighbors: the Bazzles, We Just Call Him Ernie, Mrs. (WJCHE) Bazzle, and Son Larry, my landlords, on the right; The Two Amazingly Slender Chinese Girls on the left. Each apartment has two reserved parking spaces in front of it, so I park between the Bazzles and the 2ASCG (wish I knew their names so I wouldn't have to call them the 2ASCG -- but at least I know that they are Chinese.) The spaces are narrow and neither the Bazzles nor the girls are the best at parking, so I frequently kind of use both of my spots just so that I'll have enough room to open the passenger-side door of my car and remove my groceries/books/whatever. The 2ASCG, though, have developed the habit of using my second space occasionally, and it really irks me. No, they don't ask: I just come home and find it full, and then have to squeeze my car into my second space next to the Bazzles' Old People Behemoth. It happened again last night, so I'd decided that today I would go over and ask them not to use my space. And I did, fairly nicely -- no shouting or snide remarks -- and they apologized, explained that their friend had dropped by to visit, and promised not to do it again. It was all very civil...

...and I feel like the biggest bitch ever. After all, I'm such a damn loner that I hardly ever use my second space for another car, and isn't it selfish to insist on having two to myself, and rigid to say that they should make other arrangements for their guests because we each only have two spots? But -- they are my two spots, and neither they nor the Bazzles can park for shit so they're always a little bit in my space (and I'm not taking that up with the Bazzles because Mr. Bazzle has cancer and they have enough to worry about these days), and I had a right to ask them to stick to their own spaces, right? I don't use their spaces (because I'm a rigid loner bitch with no friends), and they shouldn't use my spaces (because I'm a rigid loner bitch, full stop). sigh I swing back and forth between thinking that I was totally justified and thinking that I'm way too ungenerous and inflexible. Or possibly both, as though I were correct but it wasn't the gracious thing to do and I could have been more ladylike i.e. less demanding. Which is probably the crux of the whole matter: even I have been so socialized to believe that I shouldn't take up too much space and bother people by making waves that I think it's unacceptably high maintenance to ask my neighbors to stick to their own parking spaces. Where do I get off demanding that people stick to their agreements and not being willing to accommodate them? That's not generous, Robin. Bad girl! And, more to the point, beeyotch! Yes, folks, it's a feminist issue! (And, what the hell, a body image issue as well, NOT THAT THE TWO CAN REALLY BE SEPARATED.)

Was it kind of mean of me not to just let them use the space for their friend, since I technically had it to spare? Does it change things if the other side of the story is that I came home kind of late with laundry and groceries to get into the house and had to park significantly farther from my door because my usual space was taken? What if the other other side of the story is that the parking area is so close to the apartments here that "significantly farther" is accurate in a percentage/statistics sense, but in real life means about 10 feet? What about the fact that the cars were so close together that I had to rest my driver's-side door against the Bazzles' car to get out, and the passenger-side rear door against the 2ASCG's friend's car to get my laundry out? Or do I (*gasp*) not have to justify wanting my two spaces to be free for my use, since they're supposed to be reserved for me at all times by the terms of my lease? Where is the line between being socially accommodating and legitimately preserving your own space? It must be possible to get what I deserve (in a good way) without being - or seeming like -- a bitch, but can I even trust my own perception of myself? hah, and I could really expand this topic, too, into the immigration debate (no link, go read about the election on your own) and my current work situation. The personal is political and professional...and I do displacement obsession, where I go on about parking but am really perhaps referring to my worries about just how much I'm letting myself be used at work and whether I can (or will) do anything about it. If you've ever been taught to believe that you aren't terribly important, it's so easy to just let things lie and go along as best as you can, and so damn scary to stand up and say "Stop. I deserve better." That's why I'm so conflicted about asking my neighbors not to infringe upon my parking, and why I'm the lowest-paid full-time person at work, even though I think of myself as not being subservient to the desire to be a Nice Girl and I have a reputation for standing up for myself. I'm the least pathetically-afraid-to-be-demanding woman I know, and I'm still scared of this. Think about that -- and then think about it in this context. (I'm rather upset that the original post with its lengthy and very important comment string seems to be missing from its spot at Pandagon.)

Sunday, September 10, 2006: Apparently When I Say I Won't Do Something I Mean I Will. And Vice-Versa

Herewith and henceforth, I am dropping the "Time: Activity" format. My days aren't that segmented, really, and I kept getting my tenses mixed up. If that was distracting to me, writing, it must have been hell to you, reading. From now on it's strictly paragraphs and past tense. (I hope. sheesh.)
So, after walking about 22 blocks all together on Saturday, my feet were sore and I was tired and determined to take it easy. Even before I left Virginia I had decided to do Opera In The Park Sunday afternoon, because I like opera and I like parks and it was free, and I like free stuff too. But. It's in Golden Gate Park, which is extensive and no doubt beautiful, but also clear across the city from where I'm staying. (And also not where the Golden Gate Bridge is, either. That takes off from the Presidio, on the north side of the SF peninsula, whatever it's called; Golden Gate Park is on the west side. To illustrate:

My hotel is about four blocks above the "o" in "Howard," over on the right.)
But no problem, right? There's public transportation, I have my Muni pass, should be all set. But, again. The cable cars don't go that far west; the buses do. Specifically, the three different bus lines I'd have to switch between to get from Union Square to Golden Gate Park do. My interest in opera rapidly diminishing, I checked the event website again to see where in this vast park I should maybe head. Sharon Meadow..."Arrive early to get the best viewing spot...only low beach chairs and blankets allowed." Weather: mostly grey, somewhat windy, mid-fifties to low sixties. Blanket: think I can get one out of the hotel without the concierge noticing? Yeah -- not so much with the opera. I'm tired anyway, I'll just kick around the hotel and Union Square area and relax.
I go out to give Housekeeping a chance to do my room without tripping over me, and land in Borders. (It has four storeys.) Bum around the lit. section for a while, and finally find an unoccupied comfy chair and settle in to check out some promising-looking Latina chick-lit (hey, it's not about shopping -- it might be tolerable). Phone rings -- yay me having it on vibrate -- it's Mom. Hi Mom. Talk to Mom, lose track of Latina book in haste to get to talky area of bookstore, get off phone with Mom, go scan History and Essays/Lit.Crit. for some lunch reading. Lunch reading = non-fiction or short stories, interesting enough to hold my attention, but easy to read for 30 minutes or so, put down, and pick up two days later and not lose the thread. Essays, especially humorous or autobiographical, and History or Science Lite (see The Botany of Desire for a perfect example of the form) make great lunch reading. Found two promising samples: Spice: The History of a Temptation and Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader, by Anne Fadiman:

Yay. It's about noon now, so I figure I'll go out, find a nice sidewalk café, and enjoy my new purchases. I wander over to Market St, find appropriate café, order veggie sandwich, and break out Ex Libris. Excellent.
Then I stand up, think, "Well, the sun has come out after all, kinda, and since I'm on Market anyway...I did want to see the Asian Art Museum...the map says it's just a block off Market in the Civic Center, which I should probably see anyway...if I'm going to walk through the Tenderloin, albeit on Market, this is a pretty good time to do it...maybe the museum will have a nice bag I can get" and there I go, walking down Market.
Hey look, graffitti!
OK, it's not scary in broad daylight on a Sunday afternoon, but yes, the Tenderloin is much seedier than Union Square. I (hope I) have now seen my quota of homeless people for the trip, and I'm full up on pervasive urine smell, too. (Also, marquees seen: "All-Nude Male Revue! Hot Hot Hot European Maleness!" "Guns N' Roses, Sept. 20-21" and "Our Girls Bring All Fantasies Alive In Intimate Booth!" Makes we wonder if the Guns N' Roses show will involve guitars, and if so, how.)
I get to the Civic Center triangular park-like area thing and find myself in the middle of a farmer's market. Cool enough, nice peppers...what the hell is that thing? If an eggplant and a cucumber got together and had unholy purple phallic offspring, the result would be what I saw heaped up on tables here. I have no idea what vegetable that was. There were also these yellow things that looked kind of like un-withered "sunshine raisins" with a thyroid problem. They were about the size of a very large walnut or an oblong kumquat, and evenly spaced on stems that were about a foot long. Mystery vegetables galore, this farmer's market. Or possibly mystery fruits.
I didn't stop to ask what the...plant kingdom...things were, though, because I'd just walked 13 blocks in a misguided attempt to "not do much today" and I still couldn't find the damn Asian Art Museum, although I could see City Hall. San Francisco's City Hall is impressive looking. Finally I realized that the large white building on my right, with the "No Entrance This Side" signs on it, was the museum. So, pausing only to pick the wrong way to go around the building and therefore circumnavigating the block before finding a viable entrance, I went in.
The Asian Art Museum has a mugh more logical floorplan than the African Diaspora Museum, even if they do "make" you start on the third floor. At least there's a plan, and it's explained with a little map, and you can quite easily figure out if you've seen all the exhibits yet (or even skip some, if you're so inclined). Thank you, Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture; this tourist appreciates your conventionally linear thought.
The Asian Art Museum, so far as I remember, and I'm "blogging" this 15 days after the fact because I am a Very Bad Person, follows the spread of Buddhism through Asia. Roughly, at least. So you start in Gallery 1 with Very Old Indian carvings (too cool, to go Valley Girl for a moment), and then progress through Tibet, Nepal, China, Japan, and Southeast Asia. Possibly not quite in that order, but you get the picture. There were some Persian things -- not sure where they fit -- but I don't recall anything from Russia. Guess it's not really Asian. Anyway, moving through the Museum, which also gave one the impression of moving forward in time and eastward in space, I was reminded of my old theory that Major Religious Leaders/Messiahs/Charismatic Crackpots show up at regularly-spaced intervals. I'm sure this idea is neither original nor argument-proof, but I swear we get one every 500-600 years:
Moses: c. 1200 BCE
The Buddha: c. 563 BCE
Jesus: c. 0
Mohammed: 570-632 CE
In support of Mormonism's (or the Church of Latter-Day Saints', I should say) claims to be a major world religion, I have to note that Joseph Smith kind of fits this paradigm: 1805-1844. I just need to find someone who lived c. 1200 CE and started a religion for it to be complete -- anyone know anything about Bahá'í? (No dice: looks like 19th-century Persia.) I'm partial to Maimonides myself, but brilliant as he was he didn't exactly start a religion. I'm probably missing someone really obvious; I know I left Zoroaster out, although according to the dates on this page he totally fits. Hinduism[s] totally wrecks the whole theory, of course, not having been founded per se; not that I ever got around to studying it, but it seems to A) have just grown, and B) be really, really old. Some religion major I am.

Saturday, September 9, 2006: Into The Wilds Of Public Transportation

11:00 a.m.: OK, this is kind of an ambitious plan (for me) for today, so we'll see how much I get done. There are two festivals I want to hit: the Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival and the Festival of the Sea at the San Francisco Maritime National Park. Since Ghirardelli Square and the Hyde St. Pier are about a block apart, and both festivals are today...well, it doesn't take a genius to figure this out. I'd also like to see the Musée Méchanique at Fisherman's Wharf and the sea lions at Pier 39. You know how you can Goth out or geek out or dork out? Well, today I tourist out. As it were.
So, it looks like the Powell-Hyde and Powell-Mason lines of the cable car are going to be my friends today. I know these things are totally designed to be used by tourists, and therefore I should be able to figure it out with my eyes shut, but still: let's hope I don't make an ass of myself and/or fall off. Results posted later!

12:15: So, you know that cute old paradox about how we park on driveways and drive on parkways? Well, either I have my terminology mixed up, or in San Francisco cable cars have no thingies on top and buses are constantly hooked to wires. Therefore, you know you're on a cable car if it's not touching any cables. (Sort of -- there are also the fake cable cars, which are actually buses, and also don't touch cables, or run on tracks. You can tell that they're not real cable cars because they're clean and shiny.)
So -- got my Muni passport and caught the streetcar or cable car or whatever it is-- the picturesque one, you know what I mean -- without any real problems. OK, I circled Union Square twice because I (heh) didn't believe that the booth with the sign that said "TICKETS" would sell public transportation tickets as well as entertainment tickets (yeah, it did. shut up.) and then I got on the Powell-Mason car in the belief that it was in fact the Powell-Hyde car (I swear it said Hyde when I got on it), but they both went where I needed to be, so it was OK.
12:30: Hills!
12:45: I'm so glad I can read a map. Thank you, Mom, for making me be navigator on all those family trips when we took a "shortcut" through Pennsylvania.
I'm also so glad I packed a jacket. It's been grey every day so far, and although it hasn't really rained (on me, at least) the temperature is determinedly staying in the fifties. I'm walking along near the bay, too, and it is windy. So, yay jacket.
1:15: Stopped for lunch at some decent-looking family/chain-style seafood restaurant. Tried the dungeness crab sandwich -- local specialty, right? Had the most boring crab sandwich of my life. OK, granted, it's not in season yet, and it was not exactly a gourmet restaurant, but has nothing on . I am a crab chauvinist.
2:00: Sorry, chocolate-lovers, but I'm hitting the boat people first. I have to say, despite the gloominess, the weather is kind of perfect. At the entrance to the Hyde St. Pier is a group of grizzled men singing sea chanteys a cappella, and the sky is grey and the water is grey and the wind, smelling slightly of fish, whips the water and the hair of the singers, which is also grey, and it is all very nautical and atmospheric and such, except for the microphones.
Went aboard an old ferryboat -- the Eureka, I believe -- and realized, after looking out over the bay for a while, that Alcatraz was right in front of me, and the Golden Gate Bridge was off to my left. In my own defense for not realizing this immediately, the top half of the bridge was shrouded in fog. Only makes it more authentic, right? (No, I don't have pictures. That's what I forgot to bring: my camera. No, I'm not going to go buy a cheap disposable and take pictures with it -- I've never been much into taking pictures on vacation anyway. And if I do, I forget to develop the film or whatever once I get home.) The ferryboat was made all the more interesting by the really sweet collection of early twentieth-century cars they had on display in the...the car-part. Whatever it's called.
Moved on to the Balclutha, which is much more my type of thing, having sails (and being "old-fashioned" -- fairly meaningless designation in this instance, as I believe the Balclutha and the Eureka were active at roughly the same time). The woman at the foot of the gangplank said "one hundred nineteen years old" reverently every time someone went on board, as though the ship were a most incredibly ancient and precious relic. It was very cool, yes, and certainly interesting, but...that's just not that old, lady. I didn't say that, though: behaving myself.
Went all over the ship and marvelled at the cargo hold (extensive) and the crew's quarters (cramped) and the captain's quarters (expensive and cramped), as well as the tales of the galley that went overboard in heavy seas and the time a similar ship's crew lost the mallet used to release the anchor and rammed another ship when they came into harbor because they couldn't stop. oops.
Looked at a couple other ships and boats, but didn't stay much longer, as I felt a pressing need to A) get to the chocolate fair before it ended, and B) find a gift shop. Surely they'd have one where I could find a seafaring-brother-suitable souvenir.
3:45 One last boat-y thing: another part of the Festival of the Sea was the boat-building race. Three teams apparently got there that morning, and had until 5:00 to construct a boat each, any type they liked. At 5:00 they were going to dump all three boats into the harbor and race to the end of the pier and back. I kind of wish I'd stayed for that, because two teams were most of the way through constructing roughly 15' long narrow sleek boats that looked like a cross between a canoe and a skiff, and the third team had built what looked for all the world like St. Columba's currach...only smaller:

Probably a little smaller than that, even.
That would have been an awesome race. But I still had to see the chocolate-fest, not to mention all the other stuff I mentioned before.
4:00: Ghirardelli Square, Chocolate Festival. There are a lot of people here. The Festival of the Sea was nicely spacious (read: barely attended), and clearly it was so because everyone in the world is at Choco-Fest '06. Music, booths, cooks, 10,000 people (roughly) wandering around sampling chocolate ($10 for six sampling tickets; $20 for 15, by the way). Ghirardelli Square is kind of nifty, from what I could see of it: multi-layered, with cute brickwork, some nice (and some incredibly touristy) shops in addition to the chocolate emporium itself.
OK, I confess: I didn't try any of the chocolate. The lines were long, it was incredibly crowded, and...well, you know, I'm just not that much of a chocolate person. I tried, really I did, I went and everything, but I was just not that into it. Sorry -- I know it's a disappointment. I did pick up something for the office while I was there, so my co-workers have that to look forward to at least. I didn't quite stay for a full hour. Guess I'm a chocolate festival failure. ; )
But, on the bright side, as I left I finally found the San Francisco Maritime National Park and Museum Gift Shop (see link above), and got something for my brother there which I really hope he will like and will not utterly drive my parents crazy. Who knows!
5:00: Wandered back along Fisherman's Wharf/Jefferson St., if only just to say that I've Been Here. Stopped at the Musée Méchanique, which ought to have one of those "See the Sucker, Step Inside ($0.25)" signs on it out front. It's like a temple to the fine old American tradition of parting a fool from his money with gadgets and gizmos (which it has aplenty, and I heartily apologize to anyone who gets that song reference). It was utterly fascinating, and a little scary and creepy too. One huge room filled with damn near every kind of "See the [noun] [verb] through the miracle of modern machinery" or "The Amazing Astoundo Will READ Your FUTURE (Insert Hand Here)" contraption known to the early twentieth century, all in various forms of working decay. Most were a quarter, and since I actually had a litle change I got to see "A Drunkard's Dream" -- pretty awesome, it was a fake crypt with a head rising from the floor and a skeleton emerging from a cask -- and "Message From The Sea" -- which consisted of eight figures "dancing" in a room. Not sure where the sea came into it. The place was full of people, and pretty much everyone was laughing at how utterly pathetic and cheesy everything there was. Probably somewhere near Snakes On A Plane on the Aesthetic and Cultural Value Continuum...and just as entertaining!
5:30 -- the Camp-o-Rama didn't take long -- Pier 39: OK, Pier 39 is the really famous shopping/tourist area where you can also walk out and see the sea lions that hang out nearby. BUT -- if you go out what must have been Pier 40, you can see the sea lions just as well, and also have the entire pier to yourself. Seriously, the end of Pier 39 was crowded with people, and I was across maybe 60 feet of (sea lion-encrusted) water sharing Pier 40 with, at most, two other people. Which meant that I could sit down on a bench (really tired of walking by this point) and still see the sea lions (they grunted a lot, and were pretty cool in a supine kind of way). How many times can I type that tongue-twisting phraselet? See the sea lions at the seashoooooooooore. Anyway: sea lions seen. Mission accomplished.
6:10: Back up the somehow much longer five blocks to where I can catch the cable car back to Union Square. I get to the cable car turnaround and discover...a lovely line waiting for me (well, waiting for the car, but you get the gist). Of course: it's 5:00; everyone wants to get back to their hotels, wash up, and find dinner, myself included. So we all waited for the cable car (there was one there, but apparently it didn't feel like being turned around yet), and were entertained -- basically -- by a street performer while standing there. He juggled and told jokes, then passed a hat, and in this I figure he's on to a good thing: he had a perfect captive audience. Juggler Guy was followed by Guitar Guy ("How 'bout some Eagles?!"), and it made me wonder about how that sort of thing gets arranged. I bet you can't just waltz up to the cable car turnaround and perform, and I also bet that it's not "officially" set up. So you pay your dues? Bribe the cable car guys? Is there an underworld King of Street Theater? Have I read too much Neil Gaiman? Nah...
7:00: Back at hotel. So...tired...no...reservations...don't...feel...like...doing...research...so I go out and walk the streets (slowly) in search of dinner. Well, not really -- I'd seen a couple places on Powell St. that looked promising on the trip back, and that's only a block or two away from my hotel. Scala's was too busy to seat me until 8:30, so I went across the street and ended up at Sears' Fine Food (their punctuation comes and goes, BTW). It was kind of like a diner halfway through a gentrification project: nice tablecloths, soft lighting, and cloth napkins; worn linoleum floors and plastic glasses. The food was fine, though: ordinary but good enough. I had calamari again, fried, (which seemed to come with tartar and cocktail sauces instead of the aioli the menu indicated; I didn't really care) and a caesar salad; nothing gourmet tonight. You know how restaurants will frequently put a slice of lemon into your water, tea, or even soda? (sorry, lemon with Coke fans, but: yuk) Well, Sears puts slices of lemon and cucumber into their water. It was...really weird tasting. I actually spent a few minutes bent over my water glass fishing vegetable matter out of it and squinting at it, unable to believe that I was really holding a slice of cucumber (it had very few seeds). It...looked nice...with the lemon, but...eh. Not Robin recommended.
8:10: After I got back I looked up Sears and found out that it's (supposedly) some sort of local institution, apparently specializing in the Swedish Pancakes I had ignored on the menu. Who knew?

Friday, September 8, 2006: I Beaned a Pigeon With a French Fry (Welcome to the City!)
[Formerly Known as "Blogging San Francisco As Though I Were A Real Web-Type Person (Sorta)"]

8:30 a.m.: Yawn… wonder what the weather’s supposed to be like today…looks kinda grey…hey, a newspaper! Handy! So, My Mother Goes On Vacation With Me In My Head Moment 2 (for 1, see the fennel): let’s turn to the weather page first! High: mid-sixties, early morning fog, sunny. Toto, we’re not in Virginia anymore.
8:40: There’s At Least One Thing My Father Would Like About San Francisco. The newspaper has a whole section devoted to wine. Granted, it’s only four pages, but that’s as much as the whole “Life" or whatever section gets in the paper back home.
9:15: Drinking Tea, Balcony, Club Level: It’s Cold Out Here. Theoretically sixty-something, grey, and I swear it’s misting. September in San Francisco=November in Virginia.
9:40: Settled down in room with computer, newspaper, guide book, and brochures culled from the hotel to plot activity/inactivity plans. First song that came up on the iTunes mix: “She’s My Alcatraz,” by the Mr. T Experience. Coincidence?
10:40: Still looks grey to me (not that there’s anything wrong with that). If this is early-morning fog, it’s early-morning fog that allows me to see the street from the 11th floor and also has ideas about early rising that are not dissimilar to my own. I think it’s just a grey day, folks. Guess I should go out and do something now. ; ) 1:15 p.m.: Hey, Look at me! I'm outside! In the city! Exploring! And I'm...shivering. Yeah...the forecasted high(s -- they weren't exactly specific) in the paper today was/were 59-89 degrees. (I know -- a thirty-point spread!) Actual temperature outside at midday, according to a very obliging building on Sutter St. with a time/temp. display? 56 degrees. I did spot sunshine twice, though.
1:30: Lunch at a little indoor/outdoor deli a block from Union Square: falafel sandwich (with the crucial french fries on the side). Eating outside, even though I've been semi-seriously bitching about the weather, because it is Very Crowded inside, and anyway: People Watching!
1:35...or more to the point, Pigeon Watching. There were only two (minimalist California?), one bedraggled and matte and the other sleekly well-groomed and iridescent in spots. Let's call them Scruffy and Muffy. Muffy ignored me and hopped over to the rather slickly dressed guys at the next table (of course!). Scruffy decided that my plate was THE pigeon-dining hotspot of the day, and made several determined advances. I shooed him off once or twice (losing several napkins in the process), and then, while he was at an adjacent (empty) table plotting his next attack, launched a french fry in his direction in the hope that it would distract or preoccupy him long enough to let me finish my lunch. And...bull's-eye! The fry bounced off of his back (hee!) and landed on the table a few inches off his right flank. He immediately pounced on it, was unable to swallow it in one gulp, jumped off the table, and proceeded to hop down the street with it firmly clenched in his beak, stopping every few feet to have another go at swallowing it. So, now I know: a well-aimed french fry is excellent pigeon deterrent. Take that, Hitchcock.
2:15: Cartoon Art Museum. Fascinating, and much more extensive than its five-room (or so) layout would suggest. I particularly enjoyed the pre-WWII cartoons:

(that's Winsor McCay's work, if you know as little about cartoon history as I did)
and the "Capturing Music in Comics" exhibit. And they had some Edward Gorey, too! Love!
3:50: Museum of the African Diaspora. Right down the street! Wow, these cities...
It's a good thing that I'm on this trip alone, or else I would have had to wrestle with my continuing inability to pronounce the word diaspora again today. Somehow I can just never manage to get the emphasis right, no matter whose dispersion I'm discussing.
Persons who have known me for some time may recall hearing about how I once read sixteen pages of a translated Jewish mystical text (in my undergrad days, natch) without realizing that while the book was bound in the usual Western format, with the spine on the left when the front cover was uppermost, the translated text on the actual pages, following the Hebrew original, started on the recto and wrapped to the verso. In short, I read the pages in this order: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5...14, 15, 16. They should have been read in this order: 1, 3, 2, 5, 4, 7, 6, 9, 8, 11, 10,...15, 14, 16. Or something like that; it was very confusing (to me). It was one of those things where the whole assignment became much less obscure once I realized that I'd been reading it backwards. This is relevant, I promise, because I had a similar experience at this museum. I'm pretty sure I saw all the exhibits, but I don't know whether I went through the whole museum backwards. It made sense, basically, but a lot of people (but not all) were walking the other way. It could be that you can just go through it however you like -- it's not as though it had a map of the exhibits (that I saw) or a clearly marked "Start Here" spot, as so many other museums do. Either way, I did enjoy it, especially the music and quilting areas. I did feel, though, that it was almost a little light on substance. It seemed to offer more "oooh, shiny!" techno-interactive food/dress/music exhibits, and not so much "this is the story of the various African diasporas" in-depth information. Maybe I did miss a portion of the exhibits, although I thought I went everywhere I could. Anyway, had Weird Old Woman Encounter #2 of this trip in the music area: it was equipped with several touch-screens from which you could select text about African-inspired and descended musical styles, and listen to samples. I was working my way through it, and was joined by an older, but not truly elderly -- only late 60s, I'd say -- woman (surprise!) who marveled at my ability to work the touch-screens (OK, if you really think it's that hard...). As we reached the end of the music exhibit we neared a closed door leading to one of the theaters. Another woman came around the bend, approached the theater door, hesitated, and then left. When Woman B walked up to the door, Woman A (my Crone in Training) muttered under her breath "I don't think you should go in there" -- possibly loud enough for Woman B to hear, but not necessarily. After Woman B walked away, Crone in Training turned to me and said, "See, I kept her from going in there. I had negative thoughts about her when she went to the door -- I still have some powers here." Whereupon I smiled brightly, said "Uh-huh -- now that you can work the screens, guess I'll leave you to it!" and escaped to the quilt exhibit. Anyway, very interesting museum; wish there had been even more to it.
5:15: Finally found the Yerba Buena Gardens and the SFMoMA. It was getting late, so I didn't go into the museum itself, although I did wander around the (huge -- bigger than the entire Cartoon Art Museum) SFMoMA Gift Shop for a while, contemplating nephew gifts (thinking not, Morgs -- sorry!) and a smaller, lighter bag than my carry-on -- not really impressed on either score, although I did drool over the architecture books (expensive!) and the sundry other arty/funky items. The population of the SFMoMA Gift Shop was twice that of the Cartoon Art Museum and the African Diaspora Museum combined, too.
So then I walked back up 3rd St., past Mission and Market, got some jasmine tea at a corner café to ward off the chill, and was soon back at the hotel and consulting the guidebook for dinner.
6:30: Dinner at Farallon. Well, if one of the city's best seafood restaurants is half a block from your hotel, how can you not go? I walked right in at 6:30, too, and that was great (I figured going early-ish and alone would work). I probably didn't have the best table, but since I'm even worse at table appreciation than wine appreciation, it didn't matter. The staff was very attentive -- better than Zingari, actually -- and I totally loved the dramatically lit marine decor. Octopus lamps, sea-shell like booths -- it was all very cool. And the food totally lived up to the restaurant's reputation (and I'm going to tell you alllllll about it). I had the sweet corn ravioli and the sea scallops, and both were well-worth savoring. I was surprised at how much I liked the corn in the ravioli, and how well it went with the little rock shrimp and the cream sauce. The scallops were wonderful -- large, tender, juicy, seared crispy on the edges -- and the cauliflower puree much more to my taste than I expected it to be. The very fresh julienned sugar snap peas were a nice crispy contrast. THEN -- dessert. I was tempted by the cheeses, actually, but decided on the Small Endings, accompanied by Drambuie (in honor of a father left on the East Coast). It came as a little two-tiered tray with about fifteen bite-size confections -- pastries, truffles, mini-ginger ice cream -- on it. So I had a damn fine half-hour with my sweets sampler, liqueur, and the most utterly fabulous book I've purchased in a long time, the Affected Provincial's Companion, Vol. 1, and what a perfect combination atmosphere, flavor, and taste that was. And only half a block from my hotel, to which I returned at quarter to nine.
Further SF-research and internet surfing followed -- I'm still in love with indexed, by the way -- which I will totally not bore you by describing. Instead, I'll blatantly steal a line from Pepys: "and so to bed."

Thursday, September 7, 2006: I've Got Nothing Better To Do; Let's Traverse a Continent (Also Known As: "Let's Give Blogging My Vacation A Try")

6:30 a.m.: Why the hell don't I have any water? Do I have to fly to San Francisco without brushing my teeth? Ack! Thank goodness for my water glass from last night. No time to figure out Mystery of Disappearing Water -- have plane to catch! OK, so it won't leave for several hours, but still: I have to Get There.
3:00 p.m. EDT: Using EDT for this, even though I'm somewhere between coasts and not currently over EDT territory. I've been lucky on this trip so far, in that there's been an empty seat next to me on both flights and I've only encountered one person with Apparent Social Boundaries Non-Recognition Disorder, and I left her behind in the Richmond airport. (Apparently, facing away from someone and doing a NY Times crossword puzzle doesn't always equal "Thanks for the random conversation offer, but you're a complete stranger who smells funny and I think I'd rather do this puzzle.") Security was fine, both flights fairly on time, made my connection with no problems, I should be rejoicing, or at least preparing to rejoice once I'm actually on the ground. But. Someone on this flight -- someone within five feet of me, which is about 15 people, thank you economy class -- is practicing their Silent But Deadly technique. Continuously. I would very much like to identify this person, if only to assure them that there's no need for further practice: they've got it down to an art. In fact, they could probably give a Master Class. Just, you know, not here. (Yes, I know it could perhaps be more than one person. Without, I hope, getting too graphic, let's just say that a certain thematic consistency convinces me that the unexpected olfactory accompaniment on this flight is the work of one person.) Also, the in-flight meal-for-pay on this cross-continent flight? Give me an effing break. Other than these input and output problems (remember that aphorism?), though, great trip!
3:30 p.m. PDT, In the Shuttle From the Airport to the Hotel: The hills are brown! Brown! Who has brown hills?
3:40: Driving (well, not personally) on a four- or five-lane highway (freeway?) about 20 feet, max, horizontally from the water (assuming it’s the bay) and 10 ft. above water level. They’re going to have serious problems with this if they ever have a hurricane here. (Huh. Guess SF isn’t so much of a hurricane city.)
4:10: In hotel room – No, it’s an earthquake city. Instructions in room include “If you wake up and the room is shaking slightly, do not be alarmed. It’s probably just a mild earthquake.” Riiiiiiight. East Coast Girl here is going to be freaking terrified if the room/earth/hotel (not in that order) start shaking. “Locate bathtub in case of earthquake emergency” -- ?? The hell? A) I’m supposed to get in the bathtub in an earthquake emergency? Not, you know, hoof it down the eleven flights of stairs I’m sure exist somewhere here, even though so far I’ve only seen elevators? Then again, I suppose the stairs could collapse. And in that event, I would certainly be in need of a bath…or at least a waterproof place to hide. B) Locate the bathtub? It’s a hotel room. A nicely-sized one, true, and I appreciate the couch, but it’s not nearly so large that you don’t pretty much know where the bathtub is as soon as you walk through the door. It’s in the bathroom, which is, you know, the small adjoining room with the plumbing fixtures in it. (Barely. Large-ish bedroom for a hotel; tiny bathroom.) Of course, both the closet and the bathroom (and the mini-bar!) lead off of what is essentially a floor-to-ceiling mirrored annex of the room, so perhaps it could be confusing. Granny Weatherwax wouldn’t make it all the way into this room (see Witches Abroad, non-Pratchett people)…at least, not without smashing something.
4:15: In hotel room, looking at map: The water is on the wrong side of the land! Cognitive…dissonance…cannot…cope…need…hey, the gummis I packed! Tasty!
4:30: Unpacked laptop, found wireless log-in information, checked e-mail. Message from Sam Sadler...ah. So that's why there was no water this morning.
7:30: Hotel Restaurant (Zingarimust be Italian!), “At Least I Know I’m Not the Most Provincial One Here” Edition. Overheard: “The wine by the glass doesn’t look like they have refills.” I don’t know where this woman was from, but I sure as hell hope she wasn’t actually expecting free refills on wine in a restaurant. And if she was…what the hell kind of wine do they serve in the restaurants she frequents?
7:40, Still in Zingari’s: Speaking of wine, I’m not sure that the pinot noir the manager-type person recommended to me is actually what would go best with my gnocchi (with shrimp, in cream sauce, for full disclosure) or the calamari I ordered to start, especially as I’ve also heard him recommend it to at least two other people in the 15 minutes I’ve been sitting here. Uh-huh. I don’t know (though I suppose I should) if it’s just expensive (well, let’s say high-profit-margin – it’s not exactly the same thing) or if it’s not the best and they’re trying to unload it onto the unsuspecting or even if it’s just a good wine that the guy likes. Or some combination thereof. I did like it, though, and as far as my extremely undiscerning palate could tell it did taste nice with my dinner. (I know, foodies and winies – they must have another name for themselves – are ready to order my summary execution just for using the phrase “tastes nice.” They may have a point.)
7:45: mmmm, calamari. Don’t know why I felt so calamari-ish tonight – it’s not like it’s something I eat regularly – but I did, and this is just right for me. Lightly fried, with fennel – something I’ve never seen, I think, outside of my mother’s garden. Ack, my writing! OK, to elucidate: I’m not sure I’ve ever seen fennel outside of my mother’s (and perhaps also my grandfather's) garden. I have never seen fried anything in my mother’s garden, and the entire area surrounding my parents’ home is usually squid-free. (heh. So far as they know.) Anyway. The calamari is yummy (that works better for me than “squid is yummy.” Just go with it, OK?), and the roasted-red-pepper-and-whatever-all sauce with it I like very much too.
7:50: Sport for Waiters: I have never suspected this before, but I am now convinced that the little bottles of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and basket of bread for dipping into said liquids found in many Italian restaurants are actually provided not to give the diners something to do with their hands and mouths until the first course arrives, but to amuse the staff. Here they have the cute two-in-one bottle (like Pert Plus!) with the balsamic vinegar inside an inner bubble and surrounded by the olive oil in the outer bubble, for lack of better terms, with two corked spouts on opposite sides of the bottle. A slightly-curved but rimless oval of blue glass on the table appears to be the, ah, designated palette for the olive oil et al. The couple to my left are discussing whether both the oil and the vinegar are to be poured at the same time (I’m kind of hoping they try this, and that I can manage to watch discreetly enough to enjoy the spectacle), I’m trying to pour and keep the damn stuff on the plate-thing and not have it go all over the table (and I’m pouring one liquid at a time, thanks) and I’ve seen several other people pick up the blended-cruet construction, peer at it, and put it down. All the while waiters, managers, and maitre d’ move among the tables, checking up on diners, smiling guilelessly, not snickering, and waiting to get back to the kitchen to chalk up the results of the nightly “Idiots with Olive Oil” pool.
7:55 (or so): Gnocchi, sauce, peppers, etc. all very good, but the (tiny) shrimp are perhaps a surprise best: perfectly cooked. Perfectly. I know, what else would you expect in a good restaurant, but usually shrimp are a bit overcooked, and these aren’t at all, while of course not being underdone either. Like little light shrimpy bursts, except that sounds weird.
8:15: Hey, That’s Good Tiramisu, Too, But I Am So Damn Full.

Monday, August 7, 2006: Ugh

I'm attempting -- or at least I say I'm attempting -- Mom's Broccoli Salad (sans pork products; the recipe on the page I linked to looks pretty close) for the Going Away Luncheon tomorrow. The salad itself looks like it won't be difficult, even though the recipe la mère gave me doesn't actually specify amounts for the craisins and sunflower seeds, but I just realized that I don't own any medium-sized serving bowls (let alone serving spoons). I have cereal bowls -- eight of them! -- and that huge fruit bowl Carrie left behind when she moved out. I could put an entire watermelon in the fruit bowl, and as much as the idea of bringing eight cereal bowls full of broccoli salad to the buffet amuses me, they would be the very devil to transport. So I bought a tinfoil bundt cake/casserole pan at the grocery store, and I'm hoping it will work as an extemporized salad bowl. I'm going to throw the damn thing away, anyway (do dishes? the hell?).

So right now I'm procrastinating, and not making the salad. La-di-da-di-dah. It won't take me that long, I can stay online a bit more, I'm just not ready to commit to my vegetables, or commit my vegetables to a pot. If I were really cool like the guy (?) who does Well Fed I would take pictures of the "process" and final result. But even if my kitchen could bear that sort of freeze-frame scrutiny, I don't have a digital camera. I have a regular-old-film camera, somewhere, and no film. Which did not stop me from taking a whole "roll" of pictures with it about a year ago -- I only realized the damn thing was empty when I couldn't rewind the "film." More proof of my inability to dodge -- or at least evade -- the Stupid Within. And on that note...perhaps I mean elude?

Saturday, August 5, 2006: Ohhhhh, Right, This Website! I Forgot Abou-- oh. Ooops.

It turns out that the first thing (and second through fiftieth things) I'll want to do after getting a new laptop and the ability to Compute On The Couch would not be "Keep Up With That Website You So Optimistically Created Only a Few Months Ago." No, that would be more like "Read Gawker and Defamer until I actually know not only who Jeffrey Epstein is, but also exactly what Mel Gibson said during his DUI arrest. And all about the Landis'n'Lohan Sketchy Dehydration Excuse 'Synchronicity'. But enough about the utter crap that's now taking up all the space in my brain! On to the main focus of this and all my pages: consumerism!

So, I've been propping the computer up on my lap with the throw cushion that came with my "couch," but that always kind of worried me -- how could I keep the comp from overheating? Did I need to worry about that? Why isn't the damn cushion bigger, anyway? Clearly, I needed a lapdesk. I've been lusting after the Levenger Laplander for a while, and not just for the computer: graph paper! crosswords! those novels I never seem to get around to writing! Everything literary goes better with Levenger, or so I am happily brainwashed to believe. But...$48? Plus S&H? Not hugely expensive, I know, but I'm supposed to be broke. In fact, I am broke, and I keep acting like I'm not, which is bad. Bad, bad, no Levenger for me (this time). Office Depot, however, promised to be more reasonable, and there's one about two miles from my apartment. And...they had actually quite a reasonable substitute for the Levenger Laplander. Dark wood, black leather, and black corduroy (eh), with a carrying strap and two side pockets for pens, for about $30. Not bad -- at least I hope not, because I bought it. I'm using it right now, too, and I think it's just what I needed. The only drawback is that it makes my thighs get too hot -- but then, the cushion and the solo laptop did that too, so...if I want the breeze to reach my legs, don't put shit in my lap. Got it. I'll work on that.

And I'll also work on keeping up with this page. Really, this time.

Monday, June 26, 2006: Damn, Has It Been A Long Time Since I Updated This

...okay, not necessarily a long time in absolute internet non-updateness terms (New Material! Updated 4/13/98!), but one entry per month was not really my plan when I created this page. And its lovely color scheme, such a pretty blue, wish I'd created it, etc. etc.

With any luck content will be arriving more frequently now that I HAVE MY LAPTOP . Of course, I'll still have to do the SFTP thing to update from home, but...on my laptop! With DSL! On the couch! So happy! Such a pretty laptop! Liiiiiiittle blue lights!

The wires snaking across my living room and kitchen to make the couch-computing possible are pretty alarming, but I think I'll have to live with them (unless George attacks them and electrocutes himself). They're not that bad, except for the thing with having to leave the bathroom light on so that the cordless phone has power, and when I went to check out the wireless options at Verizon...yeeeeeeah. When they won't even hint at the price on the website, and they want you to call to order = too expensive for me. Also, they offer "Interest-free installment billing" -- bad sign, that. So, I will remember that I am (technically) poor and (definitely) in debt (a little bit). DSL (and a laptop!) is plenty.

In other news, this is not pretty. Not pretty at all:

No wonder it's raining so hard I can't see across the street from the Pod. It makes the new blacktop look nice and slick and shiny, though.

2:40 p.m. Update: Just tried Wawa's new crabcake sandwich. It's really not bad at all, especially for what is essentially a convenience store. Not anything like my mother's crabcakes, of course, but you can't buy that sort of thing anyway. But the Wawa crabcake sandwich was very tasty -- came with cocktail sauce, although not very much -- and I will definitely get it again. Would rather like another one right now, actually. I love Wawa. My life was incomplete before it came, truly.

Saturday and Sunday, May 27 & 28, 2006: All-American Weekend

Truly, what could be more All-American: Saturday night, Memorial Day weekend, Dad and Brother and I go to just-opening action blockbuster, having a meal of tasty fast food on the way, and then later top off the evening by stopping at Wal-Mart on the way home to buy chlorine for the pool.
Sunday: sleep in, avoid yardwork (on my part, anyway), play Croquet (??), attend cookout (with tequila, and other, shots afterward -- love my family. and my family's friends who go to Mexico), contribute to the delinquency of a minor, go to bed with headache.
My mother, as might be expected, won the croquet match by a mile (roughly). Of course, we were all drinking while we played (cocktails/wine, thanks; we don't do shots until after dinner), so my mom is either A) better at most forms of sport than the other women present (likely), B) better at holding her liquor than the other women present (possible), or C) both (possibly most likely). This actually gives me quite a warm fuzzy feeling of familial pride and identification. I came in third, I think, for which I have to blame my general sporting ineptitude. Given my athletic record while stone-cold sober, I don't think I can blame hitting my croquet ball into a magnolia tree on one glass of sangria.

Friday, May 26, 2006: Not Much, Really


"If something happened, I can't remember what it was." Clearly not a bad day, though. Something or other must have happened -- why can't I remember what? Oh, yes. The big event of the day was that we were permitted to go home an hour or so early, in honor of the holiday. I quite appreciated that.

Thursday, May 25, 2006: The Loony* Bin, Parts 1 and 2

Part 1
Sometimes you don't have to talk to visitors yourself in order to have bizarre people experiences in the lobby: you can just keep a bright-if-bemused smile on your lips, conceal the growing horror in your eyes, and listen.
About half an hour before closing time on Wednesday the lobby was invaded (and I use the term advisedly) by an 80-something alumna named Teddy and a man who may or may not have been her husband. (He seemed to refer to her mother as 'Mother,' but also seemed uninformed as to several major events in her life...and yes, this came up.)
Teddy was quite deaf, of course, so not only was her own voice penetrating, but her companion's tone had been ramped up to get through to her as well. The real treat, though, was Companion's appearance: his grey hair was about two feet long and braided into dreadlocks, which he wore partially pulled back with a ponytail holder, and he had on a conservative pair of khaki pants and a tucked-in multi-colored tie-dyed t-shirt. Put together, it was a riveting display of bad taste.
They fell with delight upon the stack of course catalogs we presently (and only temporarily!) have displayed on our shelves, and proceeded to sit down and read the catalogs aloud to themselves and to each other, and to discuss the College, ROTC, the integration of women into the U.S. Army, UVA, the funding of Virginia public universities, UVA vs. W&M, the Honorable Gentleman from Massachusetts, the prices of their medications, and what Teddy's mother thought about her career. In their loud, loud voices. Highlights included:
  • "The Army's a great career if you're single. If you're married, you're better off a farmer."
  • "The only thing I know about UVA is that Ted Kennedy was a graduate there for two years after he got kicked out of Harvard. He fit in well there; he was a drunkard."
I think that speaks for itself, really.

Part 2
Moving on to Thursday now, we had the First-Ever (That Any of Us Know About, Anyway) Blow Hall Everyone-But-the-Business-School Potluck Lunch. This was the brilliant brainchild of the Assc. Provost and the Registrar, who think that we (heh) need to socialize more at work. Or at least, be able to socialize more at work. This requires flat soda, burned meats, and fifty varieties of pasta salad. (I admit, the salad with the ramen noodles and raw broccoli was really good.) All right, all right, it was a good-hearted and well-intentioned idea, and the execution was a lot better than it could have been, but they actually ordered us to network. Which is just very...to be expected, I suppose.

*loony: My first instinct was to use looney here, but I wasn't sure, so I thought I'd double-check the spelling. One day, I'll learn not to do that. A quick referendum via Google (Googlendum?) showed approximately 19,400,000 results for looney -- 4,340,000 if 'tunes' is omitted -- and 4,990,000 for loony. BUT Merriam-Webster and the OED list looney as a variant of loony. To further confuse me, the earliest attestations the OED Online lists are looney (1872), luny (1883), and loony (1900). Furthermore, P.G. Wodehouse, whom I'm always happy to consider an authority, is listed as having used both luny and loony. I'm not using luny -- I don't care if it is the original version and etymologically logical; it looks weird now. Even presciptivists have to move on at some point. Loony v. looney appears to be a bit of a toss-up -- either is probably correct -- but since both Merriam-Webster and the OED list the word under loony (well, except for loonie's entry in the OED, but that's a whole other digression) I'll go with that. As you can see I have, above.

Yes, I know you're probably muttering "However you spell it, you're definitely one yourself" at me right now. I'll stop now -- but I can't promise I won't start up again.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006: A Million Little Pieces, or "A-Podding I Do Go"

Note for the Uninitiated: "The Pod" is the semi-circular reception desk in the lobby of the Admission Office. Today I am covering the Lobby because the receptionist is out; this is known in Admission circles as "podding."

Lots of fun stuff today, despite my alarming proximity to The Public. First, thank you, Lileks, for bringing this repository of Utter Fabulousness to my attention: Superman is a Dick. Just...wow. Every time I get lost in Heyer or Austen or Fielding or pseudo-troglodytic architecture, something like this comes along and reminds me how much I truly, truly love the 21st century...and, I suppose, don't completely hate the 20th century. (Also, for anyone reading this -- hah! -- who knows me from my youth, does Superman not look incredibly like James Cordon in that picture?)

The other big news-provider of the day was lunch, which furnished not one, not two, but three things I feel compelled to share with the world:
  1. Green Guru frozen meals. I had the Paneer Tikka Masala for the second time today, and it's so tasty! All their stuff (according to their own publicity, anyway) seems to be vegetarian and health-oriented, and everything I've tried of theirs is delicious. Love!

  2. Also incredibly tasty is the new (I think) Wawa Caribbean Chicken salad. I dump the chicken, of course, but other than that it has mixed greens (what's usually billed as a "spring mix," I believe), tomato and corn salsa (more like pico de gallo, actually), chopped mango, and toasted tortilla strips. Paired with a light olive oil vinaigrette, it was delicious. I forsee a lot of chicken-dumping in my future -- kind of annoying to have to pay for it when I don't want it, but it really was a good salad.

  3. Unlooked-for Adventures in Microwave Cooking. Like a good frozen-meal eater, I made sure to perforate the plastic seal on my Paneer Tikka Masala before nuking it -- or at least I attempted to. I was using one of those heavy-duty "Crystal" plastic forks (brand: Top Crest), but it not only failed to penetrate the surprisingly tough Green Guru plastic wrap but actually shattered, sending little forklet pieces whinging off the walls of the phone worker/break room. I kid you not: I heard pieces hit three out of four walls and saw them head for the ceiling as well. It was really impressive from my exceedingly close vantage point. Very...tinkly.

In other rampant consumerism news, I very much sympathize with the accessorizing urge chronicled by The Bag Lady (and her compatriot over at the Bag Blog), even though I rarely own more than one purse at a time, and find such ostensibly fashionable bags as these completely hideous:
Paddington bag by Chloe Balenciaga 'Le Dix' motorcycle bag and knockoff Roxanne bag by Mulberry and knockoff
BUT -- I am completely under the spell of these sparkly mobile phone charms (I know, WTF? But...shiny!):
oooh, shiny!
I don't even know how I'd attach one of these to my phone, let alone how I'd keep it from getting all tangled up in my purse (is it totally passé now to say purse instead of bag?) or annoying the bejesus out of me by knocking against the phone while I talk, and I do know they're incredibly girly -- probably sorority-girly, even -- but I can't help loving them. They're so...sparkly! And alcohol-promoting! How could I not love them, even if they do remind me of those dangly earcuffs I thought were so cool when I was 13?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006: Headlineless Headiness

The upside: no exercising today!
The downside: Laundromat!
The ameliorating half-up-again-side: Jeopardy!

I should totally earn some sort of nerd (or possibly fuddy-duddy) prize for my Jeopardy(!) performance at the laudromat tonight. In the category "Classy Classical Classics" (...I know) I not only got 4 out of 5 questions right (that Copland one for $1000 came out of nowhere; I contest on the grounds of dubious "classicity"), I got them right before the tunes had even been played! And I could hum them before they started playing too -- well, except for the Rite of Spring, but who can hum Stravinsky? I tell you, it was hellishly impressive. My fellow laundromat patrons thought so too -- or maybe they just thought I was an alien. Either way, I have firmly reimpressed the stereotype that frumpy white girls who wear glasses know stuff about classical music (but not classic game shows; that category totally killed me). For anyone who knows a little bit about classical music, though (and I only know a little bit), the questions were pretty damn easy. Identify Pomp and Circumstance? Not the composer, just the familiar three-word name of the melody. Who wrote the Rondo alla Turca that starts out "deedideedeedeet deedideedeedeet deedideedeeDEEduhduhduhDEEduh..."? That's...pretty famous, as far as piano pieces go. They didn't include Für Elise, though, so that's something. (No, I don't hate it! I love it -- really. But it is easy to identify, admit.)

I completely flubbed the Final Jeopardy "Globe" question, though. ("If you drill a hole straight through the Earth starting in Ohio, what body of water will you emerge in?" or something like that. There may have been a town named.) I...kind of forgot about the whole Northern Hemisphere/Southern Hemisphere switch thing there. At least I realized it wouldn't be the Pacific, but that's not saying a whole lot. oops.

Pod duty almost all day tomorrow, so I may get more updates done. Or is it indiscreet of me to say so?

Monday, May 22, 2006: Baaaaack at Work

2:30 p.m.
Can I stop adding movies to my Netflix queue? No, I cannot. At least I'm at a round number right now...even if that number is two hundred seventy.

12:45 p.m.
I know Monday is Monday, but did it have to be so...Monday? Well, at least all of the horrible problems I'm encountering (yes, I know I exaggerate) are problematic enough to be referred right up the chain of command: to the top of it, in fact, and I really hope they don't come raining back down on me.

I hear rumor that I may become more San Antonio-oriented in the near future, and I rejoice. But I also have to wonder: Do I actually know that San Antonio is a good place to live and an interesting place to visit, or is the city as a whole merely basking in the glow of my vicarious relief? Does it seem better and better because I keep thinking about it with growing hope? Have I actually heard any good testimonials, or have I just seen some pretty pictures on the web and heard several people say "I hear it's nice, isn't it?" and turned that into proof-of-wonderfulness? Will these questions damp my optimism, or even my enthusiasm? No, they will not. San Antonio is a great place to live; it's just what they were looking for; the position is very suitable (redundancy?); Ann Arbor has been good for them but San Antonio and warm weather will be a nice change of pace (substituting the state names for the city names makes this a rather more dubious proposition somehow); and I can't wait until they're settled in and I can visit them there. I think some sort of switch has been flipped in my mind that makes me think, "Oh, it's all right, it's not really Texas -- it's San Antonio! This may be a crowning achievement of nonsensicality, but it's quite comforting.

Sunday, May 21, 2006: Recuperated, and the Mind Moves on to Other Things

You know, this page really needs a picture. Or two, or something. It's a little (a little?) blah right now. After all, all the other pages have pictures on them.

I'm just saying, is all.

Update 5/23/06: Attempts have been made to redress the "blahness" issue by 1) Adding the picture links seen below, and 2) changing the background and text colors. I may decide it's just too fruity this way, though, and change it back to its previous restrained, tasteful, and blah grey.

Friday, May 19, 2006: Out Sick from Work

Really, you don't want to know what's on my mind today. Let's just say that the only Word of the Day that occurs to me is "ordure" -- although not in the figurative sense, thank you very much. In other news, I've now mopped the bathroom and hallway, and put fresh sheets on the bed. If I can just get George to take a no-vomit pledge with me (do you get a ribbon with that?), we'll be all set.

Here's hoping that tomorrow is better, and that I can get back to the reckless media consumption I so enjoy.

[These Are] Always On My Mind:

Fametracker Tomato Nation Go Fug Yourself Pajiba Cute Overload

Return to RMD