Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Try Not to Breathe

Unwanted Rodent Roommate Jim woke me from the verge of sleep the night of my last entry, a crunching gnawing sound coming from the closet. I tore my entire yarn stash out, trying to find him. No mouse, but I found the droppings, along the edges of the baskets, so I knew I'd hit jackpot. The next day I bought a vacuum and cleared out the rest of the crap on that side of the closet, searching, and finally, finally found the little bastard's port of entry, a hole in the corner of the closet, leading to the outside. It's now stuffed full of plastic bags, with a heavy object against it, hopefully a good enough deterrent to hold me until I can finally get a mesh and some spackle and truly cover it up.

One benefit of the rodent: it gave me the impetus to go back again into my yarn stash and reorganize. Oh, and finally buy a stinking vacuum, so I don't have the borrow the neighbor's. Thank you, Jim. Now go to hell. Or at least to the house down the street.

When I'm not chasing down mice, I've also been, finally, watching Mad Men — it's on Netflix Instant Streaming now, so I figured I might as well see what all the fuss is about. I'm halfway through the series so far, and I have to say: I don't get it.

Well, okay, I get it a little, but I don't get what makes it so incredibly compelling and exciting. I keep watching it mostly out of curiosity — I do want to know what happens next, but only mildly. The characters are pretty stock, the historical setting is presented exactly as you'd expect, there are no jaw-gaping surprises. Even the central protagonist, Don Draper, is an idealized "product of his time", predictable in his internal conflicts, only dealing with them in a slightly idiosyncratic way. (Or perhaps it's just that he reminds me of someone I already know, so I've got that been-there, had-him feeling.)

But really: I already knew people of the early 60s were misogynistic and racist. I already knew housewives were bored and advertising execs were supposed to be drunken womanizers. Give me something that surprises me, an insight into another time. Don't try to paint a darker picture of the nostalgia I don't have for a time I didn't know.

I'm not saying it isn't a well-done show — it's certainly smooth, researched, and provides just enough intrigue to be worth wasting an hour or two of your otherwise-eventless evening with — but it doesn't live up to the hype at all. I dunno, maybe shows like Battlestar Galactica and Sports Night have raised my bar of expectations too high. Or maybe a lot of people just have a relatively low bar. But I don't think it's a show worthy of rearranging my weekly evening schedule around.

I try not to think about it, but it's hard not to when I let it stare me in the face all the time. My heart is still broken — broken too many times, not just by the culprit we expect, I'm finally realizing that. I'm not sure how to pick up the pieces from that, not sure how to let go of the ... anger? hurt? so that I can be whole again.

It's not as overwhelming as it used to be, and that's good. I've got one wing now: it's time to see if it's enough to take flight on, and rise above.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Last Pitched Effort

The war against unwanted roommate Jim is not over. He was quiet for a while, but the last few nights I've been wakened in the wee hours by a rustle here, a crackle there. I thought I was going crazy, imagining things, especially since it didn't seem to be coming from the kitchen area but instead the walls against which my bed is pressed. Was he living in the walls? Creeping around under my very bed? I couldn't tell, and I still haven't seen the bastard.

And then tonight, tonight, the little fucker got bold. He decided he needed to crunch crunch crunch in broad electric light, while I was sitting there watching TV. I tracked him down to the corner by my stereo, probably hiding in or behind the box containing my old computer. Amazing. It's next to the kitchen, sure, but I can't imagine that there's any food or anything lingering around there for a small furry creature to enjoy.

At any rate, this discovery prompted me to finally move that box downstairs into storage — I should have done that months ago — and to finally order one of these — also something I should have done months ago. Traps haven't worked, poison hasn't worked, it's time to take this battle into the 21st century.

Package is due to arrive on Wednesday. I'm giving it until Christmas to prove its worth.

Of course, if this doesn't work, either, I may well just have to napalm the place and call it a day. Or maybe just ask to borrow one of my neighbors' cats: that might be saner. It's a toss-up which I'd choose at this point.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Sometimes we all need a little Steve Winwood in our lives.

I've been a bit delusional lately. Probably from a combination of loneliness and some inner knowledge that I need to boost my own self-confidence, pull myself out from the depths of, well, July 2010. I want to believe in the dozens of admirers, knowing in the back of my head that I'm wrong 99% of the time there, meaning that the one I'm right about really only one-quarter wants me.

The vanity we invent for ourselves.

Still, every day I am mentally slapping myself, to keep me from teetering over the brink. So far, it's working. Not sure how long self-abuse is supposed to keep going before it takes full effect, sinks in. A year? Two? Never?

At any rate, I'm happy enough for the moment, and I have a daily reminder that I'm changing my attitude towards my life. There is a further goal, there is a Higher Love. Somewhere, out there.

That's the hope, at least.

Creepy Hand

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cold. Dark.

I know it is Winter Season here in SF because I am knitting. Like a crazy woman, I am knitting. I cannot get enough of it — plugging away at a pair of socks at work; a project next to the beanbag chair where I sit when I watch my Netflix each night; skeins are strewn around the apartment waiting their turn to be next on my needles. I try to motivate myself through the cold, damp Bay summer, when sticks and string would be warming and comforting and chase away the depression, but it's the clean crisp air that brings it out in me.

That and, of course, the looming threat of Christmas on the horizon. But that's another story.

Really, San Francisco has two seasons, and three types of weather. Chilly, damp, clouded summer; brisk, nippy, bright winter. Cool and wet; cold and dry; week of warm in-between. It's that last one that catches you by surprise.

At any rate, I like best the winters here in San Francisco. The warm days are nice (the cold summers are horrible and depressing and will be the personal hell I'm sent to when I die), but I love stepping outside into the sun and feeling the bite on my nose. I get to wrap myself up in one of my hand-knit scarves, put on a wool hat, pull on my fingerless gloves, and just moving feels wonderful and warming. The chill is only skin-deep, and flushes your cheeks. Your breath steams up just a bit from your mouth and disappears.

(On a side note, the wonder of seeing my own breath is probably half the reason I like to smoke now-and-again: it's being able to do that any time I want to, no matter the weather.)

I even love the early darkness, now that we're post-Daylight Savings. It makes the city that much more magical, especially as we enter the holiday season and stores stay open longer, people start stringing little lights on their houses and in the trees along the street. We get to watch the sunset from my office window — we're in a high-rise and can see the ocean from our desks on a particularly clear day — and then I bundle up and head out into the crowds, on the MUNI underground to my bus, packed in with other people only too glad for the warmth afforded by an overcrowded train.

My only regret is that there isn't a light dusting of snow, but I'm obviously on the wrong coast, in the wrong town for that. And the fact that I wish for it probably means I haven't lived in it enough to hate it. Soon enough.

Things are moving and shaking. Weekends filling up, and I'm already starting to think ahead to next year. What I want to do, what I need to shed, what I need to build up. How I'm going to be able to afford it all. Somewhere back there, in September, was a pivot in my life, and I think think think I'm trying hard to stay on the new path and not swing a full 360 back onto the old.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Busy Week, Lazy Sunday

The apartment currently smells like stuffed peppers, the scent lingering in the air even though the peppers themselves are carefully wrapped up and placed in the fridge in preparation for the work week of lunches. I made a fresh batch of ketchup, have a bunch of radishes sliced up and pickling, most of my dishes are cleaned, and I'm about two-fifths done with the Christmas present I'm knitting my nephew.

It certainly sounds like I've been productive today, doesn't it? Now I will confess to you that I actually spent over half the day in bed, unable to wrest myself from the clutches of Nap. Seriously, aside from the shower at 11, I didn't actually start doing anything with my day until 3:30 p.m. (Thankfully, Daylight Savings ended last night, else it would have been 4:30.)

I will blame the last week or so for wearing me out. I did a little, a lot, traveled, stayed home, forced myself to go out, forbade myself to stay in.

A week ago yesterday (so, two Saturdays past), I went on a day trip with my Bus Buddy Karin to Carmel-by-the-Sea, ostensibly to show off the yet-unnamed New Car to Karin, but really just to get out of San Francisco while the weather was still fantastic. I think this is the day it started snowing on the East Coast. In Carmel, it was a "sweltering" 78 degrees, and somehow we survived walking around town in it, doing a little window shopping and basically just sampling the local flavor. It was a very Grown Up type of trip, my own foray into Life After 29. (Or is it Life After 39, now? Are we still allowed to party it hardy into our late 30s? Can we refrain from growing up another decade, now?)

I also did two nights of museum drinking. I checked out Night Life at the California Academy of Sciences, on Thursday night. It was actually pretty awesome, drinking and looking at the fish and reptiles. I kind of wish I'd seen more, but I was there with friend Claire and some of her French Posse, so it would have been rude to wander too far off on my own. Perhaps next time I'll go by myself or just with one friend.

Friday night, Karin seemingly-spontaneously suggested that we hit up Friday Nights at the De Young when I mentioned that I was going to be lame and had absolutely no plans for that evening. I didn't realize that there was a Meet-Up group planned for that event that she had signed up for, so I was initially surprised when during an intermission of the music she suddenly was able to find someone she recognized and walked up to him. It actually ended up being kind of fun — I'd forgotten what it's like joining a bunch of people who all know each other only from the internet — and I got to feel a little like I was cool and mingle-y for a couple of hours. The experience actually got me to sign up for Meetup, though I haven't joined any groups yet. Who knows, maybe I'll add that to my list of ways-to-not-be-lonely.

After the De Young, Karin took me to a little hole-in-the-wall Burmese place in the Mission, which I will not name here in the hopes that it stays relatively unknown, because it was frickin' awesome and worth the 30 minutes we stood on the sidewalk in line waiting for one of the 10 stools on the inside. It's tiny, the food was greasy, it was cheap and it was delicious. I'm still surprised at how many great restaurants there are in the city, at so many different price levels, that I have never heard of.

Yesterday, Claire and I braved the rain to go to The Pelican Inn's Guy Fawkes Day celebration. I would like to point out that it was very English weather (cold, rainy, overcast, windy), which I guess felt natural, but made one very sad when one remembered that just four days previous it was sunny and 74 degrees. I had considered not going, but I wanted to hang out with Claire at least once more — she's going back to France on Tuesday, for an undetermined length of time — and I was the one who had offered to drive. Very glad I went. Rain makes a good pub seem even better, the beer was not bad, and there was a real sense of community amongst the three dozen-or-so nutters that actually braved it out to the beach and the raging bonfire. (How they got that fire actually started is beyond me, but I'm sure wind and rain are things the British have long since gotten used to dealing with in cases like this.)

Guy Fawkes Bonfire
I'm wearing a knit toque, a knit scarf, and a knit neck warmer. All really just to keep the driving rain off.

When we went back to the pub for beer and food, we found the electricity out and only cold food and beer available for ordering. That coupled with the complete and utter lack of cell phone coverage, we were forced to actually speak to each other, and joked that we'd been transported back to James I's era and the first Guy Fawkes Day. Around this time, more of the French Posse actually started arriving, so we drank down a beer by candlelight while they also braved the rain, and then discussed heading back into the city for some real sustenance. The final consensus landed on Sheba Piano Lounge, in the Fillmore District. I'd been there once before (Josh lives right around the corner), and it was still as good this time around as I remembered. The French Posse had made reservations for the seats by the fire, so we dried off while sipping good drinks and eating with our hands. It's a great place, and their live music is loudish but not unbearable — some decent jazz to set the mood and steal your mind.

This coming week promises to be almost as exciting. I plan on striking two things off The Bucket List, and then on Saturday I'll be doing karaoke with a group from work. I'm going to say I deserve my Sunday of Sleep.

Right now I should be reading through my voter information packet, since Tuesday is Election Day and sometimes I like to be a good citizen. Not that I'm encouraged to be so when I'm barraged every morning for the month of October by volunteers handing out flyers or candidates wanting to shake my hand in front of the Castro MUNI station. Why do they do this stuff in the morning, when all we want to do is just get to work with a minimum of hassle and an extra cup of coffee? A smart campaign would put its people out there during evening rush hour, when we're stuck at that bus stop waiting for the final ride home. Captive audience, people. I guess they just don't learn.