Wednesday, November 7, 2012

It's Night

I asked for weather. I anticipated weather. I lauded weather.

I got weather. Oh, did I ever.

So yeah, there was that hurricane thing that happened last week.  We were out of work for three days, because the subways were out of work for three days. I'm just glad I am still staying with Karen and Mike so I didn't have to go through it alone.

And now, it's snowing outside. And I have no waterproof shoes, as I found out on the way home today.

However, I do have a signed lease, and a move-in date. And an address. This means that as of November 15, I'll end my two-plus-month bout of homelessness.

I'm relieved, and a little scared. It really means there's no going back, not really for a year at least.  Am I living the dream, or is this the biggest mistake I've made in my life?

Friends, want my new address, to send Christmas cards and gifts of money?  Shoot me an email.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Almost Rooted

Apologies for the silence. From touristing D.C. to "touching down" in Brooklyn, to work, to apartment-hunting, it's been a busy, exhausting few weeks. I've tried picking up the tablet to blog here and there, but the motivation was somewhat drummed out of me.

Moving is an emotionally-draining process. And the Epic Road Trip of Awesome was also overwhelming in its ... epic awesomeness.  When it was finally over - when I crested a hill on the New Jersey Turnpike and saw the New York skyline in the distance - I cried. I know: not a huge surprise, those of you who know me. But I think anyone who had been on the road for four weeks, conquered 5500 miles of highway and byway, and reached a longterm goal that she never even expected would be in the realm of motivation ... I think anyone would have cried at that moment. I'm just kind of glad I was alone, to savor the moment.

I've been staying with a couple of friends since getting into town. It's been nice - almost like having awesome roommates, I'm starting to get comfortable - but I'm getting to the point of wanting my stuff back, wanting a place to call my own and walk naked around and fill with my own presence. I've been hunting since the first week, seen almost a dozen places, and am homing in on the finish line.  Thisclose to having a place, thisclose to it all being over.

At the moment, I'm sitting in a cafe in Park Slope, waiting for a broker to get back to me about seeing an apartment nearby this evening. I was supposed to see it an hour ago. He was suppose to have the keys an hour ago. But instead I'm here, drinking a macchiato and waitng.

Which is fine: I don't need this place.  Last night I handed over a check for a deposit on another place, but two hours later I got a text from this broker, letting me know about a place right by where I want to be (Park Slope), in my price range, and in my size. So I'm giving it a shot, in the hopes that if it pans out I can get a refund on my deposit on the other place (I haven't signed a lease yet) (else I'm going to learn an expensive lesson in ... something). And if it doesn't pan out ... well, I'm set anyway, aren't I?  The cafe's a comfortable place, the coffee is pretty good, and they have a WiFi connection.

Life is good so far. I'm sorry my San Francisco friends, but I think this is the best life decision I ever made. I still miss you though.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Winding Down the Road

Dateline: HUNTINGDON, W.V.

I'm not sure I've mentioned before that I like weather. Really, what I like is weather that changes, as seen in my (in)famous complaint about San Francisco's entirely-too-consistant 62-degrees-and-overcast year-round climate. It's been warm, it's been hot, it's been cold, it's been muggy and dry and it has rained for me on this trip at different points. There was one day in Wyoming where I started it at 34 degrees (that's Farenheit, y'all) and hit a peak of 95 by the middle of the day. There was a downpour my first full day in Nashville that necessitated staying in and watching Wilfred while eating pizza.

Yesterday, I met weather face-to-face, was humbled, still loved it.

I wish I could say I came thisclose to a tornado, but I cannot. (I think I would crap myself if I saw a tornado on the horizon, much less within a dangerous distance of my car or person.) Weather this time was merely a thunderstorm, with rain so heavy I could barely see the car driving in front of me, and lightning that seemed to touch down just over the next hill. I was driving alone alone narrow two-lane roads, on my way to visit the Maker's Mark distillery, and while I tend to think of myself as a confident and able driver, I couldn't imagine myself navigating those tight curves in the middle of nowhere. I love thunderstorms, but I do not love driving myself into a ditch.

So I chickened out, turned myself around, and found the nearest strip mall to park and regroup. I considered briefly giving up and heading back to Lexington ... but for what? Lauren was busy spawn-sitting, and most everything else I wanted to do was dependent on decent weather. I thought about sitting in the car and reading or knitting and waiting the storm out - in about two hours, per Instead I went into the Rite Aid, made a small purchase and asked the lady behind the counter for the nearest nail salon. It happened to be just five doors down, so I whiled away the stormy hours getting a mani-pedi.

By the time it was done, and all my nails were shiny and red, the clouds had lifted a bit and the rain had stopped. As I drove back out over that narrow road, the sun started to peek through the clouds, and it started to warm up just as I drove into the distillery grounds. I'd just missed one tour's departure, so I took my time looking around the vistor's center/distiller's house, which was decorated in fifties' era furnishings, and had talking portraits hanging on the wall.

As an aside, for anyone thinking of doing the Bourbon Trail in their lives: don't let your GPS take you to Maker's Mark. It'll take you down a crazy one-lane road for four miles, and you'll spend the entire time wondering if you've got the right directions. Check the website for something better. Trust me, you'll keep your sanity this way. Unless you like almost dying in a crash as someone barrels around a blind curve at 50 miles per hour towards you.

I really liked the Maker's tour, by the way: this time we got taken through the ferment-and-distill process, not in as much detail as the Buffalo Trace hardhat tour, but we still got to taste the fermenting mash (which was completely different from Buffalo Trace's - it's got a  higher corn content, and is wheated, not ryed), saw the inside of one of the rickhouses, and then we went through to the packaging and bottling warehouses. I felt just like I was in the middle of an episode of How It's Made, without the soothing narrator's voice there to put me to sleep.  The guide gave us a tasting that comprised four different samples; the "white dog", which is the liquid that comes out of the distill before it goes into the oak casks; the regular Maker's Mark bourbon product; a sample of "over aged" (10 years) bourbon; and a sample of a newer line, the Maker's 46.  The tour ends conveniently in the gift shop (of course), where I bought a bottle and got to dip it myself into a vat of red wax to get that trademark Maker's look.

From there I headed up to Heaven Hill distillery, and crashed the latter half of the final tour of the day (I was a bit late in getting there). It wasn't a great tour: we didn't get to go into any of the actual production houses, it was all contained in displays within the main visitor's (sorry: Bourbon Heritage) center. They have a wide selection of bourbons that they create - they're the second-largest producer of bourbons in the country, after Jim Bean -  but the tasting was only of one. It was kind of disappointing, because this was the one distillery I didn't know really by name, and which I hadn't tried before. I was hoping to discover something exciting to take home with me and didn't really get anything.

Dinner was with Lauren and his family at a Cajun place in downtown Lexington, Bourbon 'n' Toulouse, which I highly recommend -- I had a great etouffe and jambalaya.  I wanted to get a little way down the road before calling it a night, so I drove just into West Virginia before pooping out, and here I am.

Today I head into Virginia. Trying to decide the best route, because there is no direct highway connection with the DC area from here. (I guess it's not Rome.) Do I head south and drive mostly through Virginia, or do I take the West Virginia route and do a little traveling through western Maryland?  We'll see what I decide during breakfast.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Tippling Point

Dateline: LEXINGTON, Ky.

Three weeks on the road, and I think it's starting to get to me, even with the weeklong pause in Nashville to work and take a break from driving.

Not to say Nashville wasn't a blast. Angela has stayed at my studio in San Franciso a few times, so it was odd to spend time in her stomping grounds and hang with her in a town that wasn't familiar to me. It was also strange to see ceramic pieces that I'd created scattered around her apartment - things I'd made and sent to her and forgotten about over the years. (Okay, that was more flattering and ego-boosting than strange.)

I spent the week working, so there wasn't too much in any one day to report, hence the long silence. There was a lot of chilling out at home, going out to eat, and general catching up with my hostess. We visited the Parthenon (built for the city's centennial celebration in honor of Nashville's nickname, "The Athens of the South"), saw some (free) live music, did some light shopping. Ate amazing ice cream. Met some of the friends I'd heard so much about over the years.  Drove around downtown and admired the Batman building. Gained about five pounds (well, at least I probably did - see below picture of fried pickles for part of the reason).

Kentucky isn't the most beautiful state I've been in (Wyoming may very well have won that distinction, with stiff competition from western South Dakota), but there's a soothing pleasing comfort in the rolling hills and estate houses that smack of an older American gentry. I drove into Lexington yesterday evening to visit with my friend Lauren, but was so wiped out and overwhelmed that I needed a night to myself. I kind of need it tonight, too. Today we hit the Bourbon Trail, did a tour of Buffalo Trace distillery, and tastings at Four Roses and Woodford Reserve. The tour was fantastic - they took us through the distillery from corn to final product. We got to taste from the vats as the mash was fermenting in various stages, which was an experience I hadn't expected.  Of course I spent too much money, I'm pretending on things that are unique to Kentucky and that I can't get out in NY. Right now I'm busy digesting a Hot Brown dinner (a very Kentucky dish, I am told) and trying to plan my tomorrow, which is as yet unplanned. I think I want one more day by myself before I head to my next and final stop, Reston, VA. I'm tempted to drive out to a couple of the distilleries we didn't get time for, like Maker's Mark, just to get in another tour and do a little more tasting.  Mammoth Cave also is tempting, or I might look into what's in western Virginia for exploring. We'll see what the dawn brings. I like seeing what the dawn will bring.

Less than a week left of the Epic Road Trip. I still think this was the best idea I ever had (the move plus the month of travelling).

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Rollin' Down Music Highway

Dateline: BRENTWOOD, Tenn. (just outside of Nashville)

I'm at Angela's tonight, where I'll be based for a whole week - the longest time I'll have a "home" all month.

This means two things in terms of my vacation:

1) I have to start thinking with my work-brain again for a little while.
2) My vacation is officially half-over.

I wonder if it'll feel weird to not be on the road for long stretches at a time, I've almost gotten used to it.

As I was telling Angela and Jacob, this trip felt mostly like a smooth gradient of American culture as I moved from west coast to midwest. Sure, I took into account the utter wackiness of California - and especially San Francisco - living, and adjusted my expectations accordingly. The people I met were more or less the same: basically nice, somewhat selfish when not thinking about it, a little more religious as I moved east and south, a little bigger, a little more fond of fried food and less inclined to dedicate large portions of the menu to vegetables.

When I crossed the Mississippi into Tennessee, however, I suddenly felt just how different the shift was. This wasn't America anymore: this was another country, another planet. This was The South.

People are genuinely nice here. They say please and thank you, and not ironically or sarcastically or even out of rote because their parents always made them say it. They hold doors open for each other. Today I was waiting for a teenager to finish crossing a driveway so I could turn into it, and he actually noticed and sped up his pace for me.  Who are these people, with their rolling accents and open smiles and neighborly attitudes? I'm not saying that people aren't friendly everywhere else -- New Yorkers are friendly, once you've opened them up, but they're closed to strangers, whereas San Franciscans are friendly to your face but aloof once you're out of sight.  I get the impression that in the South you're a friend unless proven a stranger. Maybe that's a tourist's generalization. Maybe that's just my misimpression.

(As an aside: everyone told me that I would get a "big shock" when I hit the Midwest and saw how fat the people would be here. I must say: I don't see that. Sure, there's more plumpness, less anorexia, but I haven't been completely blown over as I'd been led to believe. Either this means that the accounts have been exaggerated, or that I've somehow sheltered myself from all these grossly obese people, or Californians have just also gotten fatter and are in denial of it.)

At any rate:

Graceland was unexpectedly interesting. Worth actually going, but probably not worth the price of admission ($32 a person, just to go into the house - other parts of the estate are available for the $70 VIP pass) unless you're a die-hard Elvis fan. But now I've gone and can say I've participated in yet another piece of Americana, and I learned something about the man's life -- like how much of his money he actually gave away, and put back into the community that he was fun. I mean, the guy actually created tornado relief funds, and paid the medical bills of random patients in the hospital. How many of today's overrich entertainers can say as much? The estate itself is not just a lot of show and flash and bling (well, there is a lot of that, but hey, it was the 70s), but really did reflect Elvis's own tastes and needs and personality, and showed evidence of actual active use on a regular basis. Graceland was an estate he called home, and used as a home, not just as a trophy.

For dinner Jacob took me out to Texas de Brazil, a Texas-style churrascaria right off Beale Street. I think I realized there, just as another one of the servers sliced a piece for me off a slab of roasted lamb and I was dipping it into mint jelly, that this is probably the best vacation I have ever taken. I think in that moment I was as happy, relaxed, and anxiety-free as I've ever been in my life.

I like Memphis, and wish I'd gotten a chance to see more of it. Another place I'll just have to get myself back to.

I have tomorrow off, and then I work a four-day week out of my company's Nashville office. I expect to have a million, billion emails to comb through, and hope that I haven't forgotten my seven years' worth of experience. Maybe I should pull out my work pants and make sure they still fit -- after the last week or so of eatin' and drivin', I think I've gained about 10 pounds. Ugh.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Poor Boys and Pilgrims With Families, We Are Going

Dateline: LAKELAND, Tenn.

I'm just outside of Memphis, on the third leg of the couch-hopping portion of my trip. The last few days have been mostly hanging out with friends, in Omaha, then Jefferson City, then St. Louis, and now here.  Nothing terribly exciting, and it's been hard to be social and update the blog at the same time, which is the reason for the recent silence.

Omaha was nicer than I expected. They have a cute downtown, a bunch of rehabilitated railroad warehouses that have been turned into boutique-y commercial spaces and restaurants. My friend David and I did a little shopping downtown, went out to dinner for the requisite steak meal, and pretty much just vegged out the rest of the time watching Arrested Development, which he had started but not yet finished.

I was only able to spend just about 24 hours in Omaha before I had to head down to Jefferson City, Mo., where Andy lived. Since Missouri's capital isn't actually on the route of the interstate (apparently one of only three or four U.S. capitals that aren't, something like that -- putting Jeff City in the same category as capitals such as Juneau, Alaska), I was more or less forced to do a bunch more two-lane road driving to get there. There's not terribly much to do in that city, and since Andy and I both had to work our ways East that weekend, we spent Thursday driving through Missouri's Wine Country (did you know they had one? And that it's the oldest wine country in the United States? Craziness) and stopping at a few wineries along the way.  The wine here is a lot different than that back in California. I ended up buying a case, mostly of wines much sweeter than I'm used to picking up -- it seems like everything here is dry or sweet, nothing along the full-bodied spicy route like a Tempranillo or Malbec. Icewine was something I'd not encountered anymore, and ended up grabbing a couple bottles of that.

We tipsily continued on our way to St. Peters, a suburb of St. Louis, where we crashed with Andy's friends Evan and Mike, went for a long walk through the loal giant park system, had surprisingly good Vietnamese food (the pho' didn't have tripe or any of the other "weird" bits we have in California, but was delicious nonetheless), and ate a bunch of cookies.

Friday I had only really half a day for St. Louis, since I had to be in the Memphis area at a reasonable hour that evening. Andy'd gotten us noon tickets for the top of the Arch, which gave us just enough time to grab a sandwich at Amighetti's, and then a frozen custard Concrete at Tom Drewes (eat this, do it now) before heading to the riverfront.  The arch itself: if you have a fear of heights, or claustrophobia, don't go up. The little 'elevator' pods have five seats, all sized for people from the 60s, not the current fat-American butts, is low-ceilinged, and it has a window as it climbs to the top that allows you to see into the guts of the arch itself, and all the way up and down the shaft and emergency stairwell.  Once you get to the top there are a series of tiny windows that you have to lean against the slanted wall to see into, giving you a great view of the city on one side and the Mississippi River and southern Illinois on the other.  You can look straight down to the people walking under the arch below, and the sense of vertigo could be overwhelming if I were more sensitive (or, I can imagine, if it were a windy day and the Arch was swaying). Below is a blurry esoteric picture of my boobs in one of those pods on the way back down (they wouldn't give us enough time to take a proper picture to give you all a sense of size and Jetsonian style.

Unfortunately, I didn't get time for the City Museum, which was talked about. This of course just means I'll have to get myself back to St. Louis again while I'm still young and healthy and OK with wearing knee pads.

Stayed up late last night once I got to Lakeland (after a much longer drive than expected) hanging out with Jacob and catching up since we hadn't seen each other. We just ate breakfast, and are getting ready to head into Memphis proper and do a trip to Graceland. More on that later.

Monday, September 10, 2012

On Central Time

.Dateline: MITCHELL, S.D. (Yeah, I'd never heard of it, either.)

Did you know that half of South Dakota is on Mountain Time, and the other half is in Central? I didn't, until I crossed a county line and suddenly the hope that I'd get to Sioux City by 10 p.m. turned into an 11 p.m. ETA. Just like that.

So yeah, I stopped about an hour's drive before that, and still ended up getting the late-night rate at Econolodge. Go me!

Anyhoo, continuing where we left off yesterday:

Blah blah blah Yellowstone was awesome. But we knew it'd be. It was also very touristy, which we also knew it would be. But that was kind of nice because I didn't feel so bad about being tired out and just wanting to do the easy hikes -- there were a lot of them, and in most cases I was the most-fit person walking along them.  (By the way: I think I was the only person my age without small children at the park. Besides Dan, who apparently was also there biking around  like a crazy person, but we ended up just missing each other between Mammoth and Canyon. Freaky. Sorry we didn't meet up, Dan!)

I got up early yesterday (Sunday) morning in the hopes of sprinting over as much territory as possible, in the hopes that I could catch at least Mount Rushmore before having to crash somewhere in Rapid City. No such luck: as I mentioned yesterday, Yellowstone is FRICKIN' HUGE, and I miscalculated which hub would lead me to the eastern exit,  meaning that instead of one hour to leave it took almost two.  (Yeah.)  Instead of being a good planner, and picking a direct route to the Interstate, I went via a two-lane road through the middle of nowhere wilderness.

Which ended up being the best thing ever. I drove through the Bighorn Mountain Range, which was beautiful, and realized that pretty much my favorite type of driving is the kind that takes you on backwoods two-lane roads going around mountain curves at 45 miles per hour.

Wyoming is a gorgeous state. It's no wonder people choose to live there, even if it's out in the middle of nowhere. You've got lush forests, geothermal happenings, great rolling plains, rocky mountains, steep ravines, and Devil's Tower (which I did make a point to detour out to, see picture below). I can totally see why people would be willing to have to shop at Wal-Mart for this kind of life.

South Dakota has also been amazing, in some of the same ways (rolling plains, mountains), and a lot of different ones (mostly to do with erosion or carving into large chunks of mountain).  I left my motel early this morning to head into the Black Hills for Mount Rushmore and Wind Cave National Park. I ended up doing a drive-by of Rushmore -- I thought it was ridiculous to pay $11 to go into a parking lot to ooh and aah at a thing you can see from the frickin' road. I don't care how elaborate the visitor's center exhibits were, not worth it in my book. So instead I took a few pictures from some pulloffs, and then took the scenic route to Wind Cave.

By the way, do both things in the final phrase of that last sentence: go to Wind Cave, and take the scenic route (US-16A through Black Hills National Forest). Wind Cave was great, even though they only offer one of their five tours during the off-season. I'll have to go back during a summer and take one of the others. It's really unlike any other cave around -- it's not a very wet cave at all, so there are almost no stalagmites or stalactites. Just miles of boxwork and branchings and meanderings that we can only imagine. The tour was nine bucks, and that was an infinitely better deal than the $11 to park at Rushmore.

As for the drive: WOW. If you love driving and are a confident driver, I can't emphasize enough how much fun this road was. Hairpin turns, pigtail bridges, narrow tunnels cut right into the granite cliff of the mountain that you're speeding atop ... there was a moment where I was going through one of those tunnels, and Mount Rushmore was perfectly framed in front of me by the stone.

So do yourself a favor: drive this drive if you're ever in that part of the country and have a car and can handle this kind of thing. Don't take backseat drivers or passengers that get carsick. It won't be nearly as fun.

Back to the Interstate (which would have been a lovely drive if I hadn't already been spoiled by the Black Hills) I made it to Wall Drug on the recommendation of Todd and Craig back in SF - tons of fun, really tourist-trappy and kitschy - which delayed my venture into the Badlands by a good hour. Which was fine, because it meant I showed up there about an hour or two before sunset, right when the park is at one of its most beautiful.

The Badlands tends to get a pass by a lot of travelers, I think - it's a little out of the way, too far from the rest of South Dakota's well-known offerings to be truly feasible in the same day. I tried, but all I was able to do was the main Loop Road and a lot of viewpoints.  The landscape is .... well, beautiful. That seems to be a theme in this entry, but there's something breathtaking about such a forbidding, colorful landscape. It just appears suddenly in the prairie, and then it just takes over everything.  The taste I got this evening really makes me wish I had more time. I'd considered getting a campsite (and spent 60 miles of Interstate driving regretting not doing so), but remembered that I do like taking showers, and want to get as much Omaha time as possible given my being behind schedule on this here trip.

Tonight marks the final night of the first leg of my trip -- the alone and naturey part. The taste of nature I got in the last seven days just blows my mind, and makes me hungry for a lot more. (I'm glad now I got the $80 annual National Parks pass -- it got me into Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Devil's Tower and the Badlands. $50 worth of entry fees, and it's good for more through the end of next September. I'm going to do my best to get a few more parks in so that it pays for itself.)

As for the alone time: well, I'm unsure about whether I'm happy it's ending or not. There have been a lot of times I wished I had someone in the car with me, because life is best shared, I've always thought. Also, having to take your own picture all the time SUCKS.  But I've also had a lot of thinking and purging time in this aloneness. I'm not sure I'm ready for that to be over. We'll see.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

In an Unwashed and Unconnected State: Wyoming

Dateline: RAPID CITY, S.D.

My hair is drying from my first shower in days. It feels good to be clean again, though it wasn't as bad to be dirty as I expected. (Attraction to flies not withstanding.) I've been mentally writing this entry in my head for days, but between the post-shower relaxation, and all my remaining energy being monopolized by my stomach as it digests the enormous meal I just ate, it's all I can do to keep up with Family Feud on the Game Show Network. We'll see how coherent I'm gonna be.

At any rate: I'm alive, I didn't get lost in the woods, and bears didn't eat me -- nor did dragons or the Quebecois that had the campsite next to mine (*queue Maurice Chevalier laugh here*).

I spent the last three nights camping out in two National Parks: Grand Teton and Yellowstone. I went with the suggestions of a couple people who said not to skip the latter, and I'm glad I didn't.  The big downside to this plan: they don't seem to believe in internet connections at National Parks, meaning I've been out of touch for too long. I had planned on documenting each day, but with no ability to immediately post, there was no motivation to write. It's a bad thing that I'm a procrastinator.

Thursday I got a campsite in Grand Teton for the night at Jenny Lake (highly recommend: it's beautiful, quiet, and affordable), and spent about 40 minutes trying to figure out how to put up my tent on my own. Somehow it was easier in my parents' backyard last weekend than doing it in real life. I almost gave up and went to get a room in the lodge at the main lake up the road, and then suddenly it came together in a passable way. When it didn't collapse after a few minutes, I figured it was good to go, and patted myself on the back as a true outdoorswoman.  As a reward, I drove out to one of the hikes recommended by my guidebook, a 6-mile round trip up Signal Mountain to a view that was promised to be gorgeous. Just as I was starting, a guy with two dogs started on the same trail, so I figured I should be fine going it alone, since I'd be close behind someone who had animal protection in case the wildlife got a little too close-and-personal.

And then I saw the sign warning about possible bear attack, and how to handle it. And I realized that I was not following two of the suggestions -- that is, traveling with someone else (the guy with dogs didn't count, since he was at least 30 feet in front of me from the get-go), and carrying bear spray.  I thought for a moment about going back, and either picking up some of that spray or picking a different trail to hike, but mentally smacked myself for being timid, and told myself that I should be more adventurous and take more chances with my life.  This was supposed to be an adventure, right? What kind of adventure has no element of danger?

So that's how I spent three hours being scared half to death, expecting a bear to appear out of the bushes at any moment and take a swipe at my face in way of greeting. The trip up wasn't so horrible, since for most of it I knew that guy and his dogs were within distance of hearing if I screamed, but the way down was bonechilling: I didn't run into anyone, and it got darker and darker until it started raining on me for the last mile of my trek. I sang "99 Bottles of Beer" loudly on the way down, and did a lot of crazy talking to myself. The biggest thing I saw? A mule deer that I startled out of its afternoon meandering for dinner. No bears at all.

The hike also took a lot more out of me than I had expected: by the time it was over, every muscle in my body hurt, and I had a dehydration headache (and yes, I did carry a bottle of water up with me that I drank on the way). I chided myself for being a wuss, but on the drive today I realized that it wasn't all me being out of shape - though yes, that's part of it. It was a pretty steep climb up a hill that was at a much higher elevation than I'd hiked in years, if not ever.

But despite all that, it was worth it. I don't think I'd do it again anytime soon -- not alone, without anti-bear weaponry that is -- especially since I could have driven up to the top and seen the exact same thing without all the fearmongering.

Oh, well. At least now I know I can do that. Hooray for me.

That was the big thing I got to do in Teton. I didn't have much time, especially since I wanted at least a day in Yellowstone. I took a lot of pictures, did a lot of driving through the area looking at things.

Friday morning I packed everything up pretty quickly -- there were less shenanigans taking down the tent than in putting it up -- and headed into Yellowstone. That park is huge. I mean, I drove through the entrance gate, and it took me a good 30 minutes of driving before I passed the first major Visitor Center area. I spent the first two hours driving around trying to find a good campsite, and ended up at one of the big Xanterra ones, in Madison. (All the major hubs have names -- Madison, Fishing Village, Mammoth, Canyon, etc.) Putting up the tent was much faster, whch was great because it gave me half the day to go exploring and end up at Old Faithful just in time to see it blow.

Yellowstone is pretty, but not quite like Grand Teton. What it does have going for it, at least as far as I am concerned, is all the geothermal activity. Geysers and mud pots and hot springs are everywhere, I wonder how they can tell a real fire from all the steam coming up all over the place.  I did as many small nature walks as I could - mindful that I was still sore and winded from Signal Mountain, o wuss that I am - as well as doing the longer Fairy Falls trail and stopping off the side of the road a lot to take pictures.

On Friday I drove up north of Mammoth and swam in the Boiling River swimming area (definitely a highlight of the trip - it's where a river of hot-spring water dumps into a regular river, combining to make a perfect blend of water that's just bearable for humans). Then I drove the whole 142-mile loop, visiting various spots along the way. The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone was much more impressive than I'd expected, and I saw a lot of bison, birds, deer, chipmunks ... but no bears. (Yay!)  A couple times I got stuck in traffic as tourists got excited by an elk sighting 20 yards off the side of the road and just had to stop and take a picture, or a few times when some bison decided to use the road as their own personal path to the next meal. It was kind of fun to have so many close encounters. I spent two night in Yellowstone, and wish I'd had time for more.

It's after midnight here, and I have a long day ahead of me tomorrow. Gonna stop writing for now, and continue the update when i can -- hopefully tomorrow evening. For now, all, here's a photo of me at the Dragon's Mouth Spring. I already shared it on the Facebooks, but it's still good for this entry, too. I even look happy. ;)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Religious Experience

Dateline: ALPINE, Wyo.

Didn't quite make it all the way to Jackson as I planned, and the view of the stars is woefully obscured by the bright lights of the parking lot of this Motel, but I've showered and soaked off the residue of the Great Salt Lake, and am ready for a quiet evening of Community (thanks, Dara) and sleep. I think I need to recover from Utah.

I've known for a while that Mormons were nice. One can't almost help but forgive them their delusional religion (as opposed to other delusional religions) because it turns out such really frickin' nice people.

After having been to the Mormon Mother Ship, I'm starting to wonder if maybe they're not doing something right with their delusion. The downtown was clean, my friends. Like, Disneyland clean. I pulled into downtown Salt Lake City at about 9 a.m. and there were people all over the place, pruning trees and bushes, replanting flowers, wiping down the garbage cans, scrubbing the sidewalks on hands and knees. They were still at it four hours later when I left.  It was immaculate and white and like the cities you see in movies like Ten Things I Hate About You. It's what a city should look like. Unless you like litter and dinginess and the smell of old piss. Then San Francisco is definitely your place. 

(For those of you who will claim I only saw downtown, and therefore the painted face of the city, I will note that I got lost in the adjacent neighborhoods a few times while trying to find parking and then while trying to find the highway. They were also clean and well-cared for, if not as pristine as Mormon Central. It's a town where it's clear that people actually care about where they live and how it's maintained. They put effort into it. There's something appealing about that.)

I took a million pictures of the Temple Square grounds, snuck to the second floor of the Tabernacle, watched good Mormons get let into the Temple itself via a backdoor as if it were a club with a secret password, stifled laughter while touring the Visitor Center/Museum, bought a copy of the Book of Mormon as a souvenir and had amazing pork belly for lunch at The Copper Onion.

I'd intended after that to head directly to Jackson to grab either a campsite or a hotel room, but I did want to see the Lake, so I took the advice of the front desk girl at last night's hotel and headed to Antelope Island.  It was a long drive through several towns, and a hot day, and $9 just to get into the park, and I almost thought it was a wash. I drove around half the island, saw a few bison and some picturesque views, but didn't get down to the water. On the way back out, I saw the sign I'd missed coming in  -- "BEACH ->" -- and went for it. As I pulled into the parking lot, I could see about a quarter-mile in the distance, across the sandy salty playa, a group of people wandering at the edge of the water. I headed for them, and met a guy coming back who was soaking wet -- those people weren't wandering, they were bathing in the water of the lake. I was woefully unprepared -- my bathing suit was back in the car, I had no towel -- so I figured I'd just dip my feet in the water, but a couple visiting from New Jersey convinced me to submerge myself, dress and all.  It was ... well, there's not really a good way to describe the feeling. The water was lukewarm, not the SF-style 55 degrees I was expecting when someone told me it was "cold, but nice", and so salty that I just floated on the surface without even trying.  I would guess that's what the Dead Sea is like, and now I can understand what would make a bunch of crazy religious pioneers decide to stop and make their lives here in the middle of vast beautiful emptiness.

Last night I said that the adventure didn't feel like it had begun until I entered Utah. This moment in the Great Salt Lake is where all the stress I'd been carrying around with me, some I didn't even know I had, floated away. When I finally walked back to the parking lot and found my car missing, I didn't panic at all. I just laughed and shrugged my shoulders and figured that these things happen. My car wasn't stolen, by the way: I'd walked back up to the wrong parking lot. We found it after a little while, but it wasn't a relief to do so. It just was a thing that happened. Does that make sense?

I laughed most of the way out of Utah and through the small corner of Idaho that was on my route. And again I had to laugh when I was stopped in the middle of a stretch between Wyoming towns by a family on horseback herding their cattle on the side of the highway back into the barn. I probably nearly got rammed by a panicking steer a couple of times as I tried to sneak around them.

Tomorrow I'm going straight to Grand Teton Park and gonna try to get a campsite. I'm actually considering skipping Yellowstone -- or just doing a drive-by -- in favor of Grand Teton and then going to the Deadwood area. Any thoughts or suggestions?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

That's It, California - I'm Gone


Not to disparage Nevada, but as I crested that final hill just before the Utah border, and saw the flooded salt flats spread out below me, shining blue and white, I almost cried at the beauty that alleviated the previous too-many hours of ugly boring landscape.

I'm glad now that I did the drive straight through on my first day. Long but worth it.

Random mental notes I took during my day's drive:

-- Stopped at Harrah's in Reno and ate at Hash House a Go Go, at Jeremy's recommendation. The name was, obviously, questionable, the decor not exactly what I expected (though it should have been what I expected of a casino restaurant), the food worth the stopover and the getting momentarily lost in the streets of Reno. I had the sage fried chicken, it surprised me. In a good way. 

-- Lost three dollars in the slots, and had absolutely no urge to continue in the hopes of contributing to the trip fund. I'm glad I'm not the addictive-gambling type. Maybe I'd have blown a bigger wad if I'd played the  blackjack tables, which might have triggered my competitive streak.

-- Nevada's rest stops had the most disgusting toilets of the three states I've visited so far on this trip. I actually squatted to pee for the first time ever, it was that gross. And the toilet had no seat, really, anyway. Ugh.

-- The girl working the drive-through window at the Elko Starbucks (exit 301 .. or 302? I forget) is very chatty. About herself. In the five minutes I had to wait at the window for my mocha frapp to be finished, I found out that she was born and raised in Houston, came to Elko to live with her mom (because why else would an 18-year-old move to Elko?) and was really, really excited about snow. Good for her.

-- About 20 percent of Nevada's stretch of I-80 seems to be going through a re-paving. I had to drive 55 mph through miles of orange "work areas" about a million times.

-- Something about Nevada made it really easy to drive 90 mph and still feel slow (when I wasn't in the work zone, of course - double fines!). (I accidentally hit 100 at one point when I wasn't looking.)  Utah, on the other hand, I cruised through at 75 (the legal speed limit) and felt like I was speeding. I often caught myself dropping down to 70.

-- This is the most landlocked I've ever been in my life.

It wasn't really until I drove into Utah that this felt like a true adventure. Maybe that's because I've been through that part of California, and have visited Nevada before -- though certainly I haven't been further east than Black Rock City.  But suddenly in Utah I felt that excitement that comes from being someplace new, from venturing into the unknown and feeling brave about it.

I pulled over at the first rest stop in Utah that I could, both because I needed to pee and also because I needed to give myself a chance to walk out on those salt flats. This was one of those few situations where I wish I had a companion with me on this road trip, but I made do as you can see in the attached photo. Note that, as I commented on Facebook, the picture doesn't do the flats justice as far as demonstrating their beauty or fullness of awe.

It was weird to drive away from that and watch the sunset in my rearview mirror instead of in my face. Weird, and liberating.

Tomorrow I explore SLC, and hopefully get down to the Lake, if possible, before heading to Jackson Hole and the Grand Tetons. It's probably about time for me to pass out, especially if I want to try to hit the pool in the morning for a quick swim - I'm feeling lumpy, need some exercise. I'll try to post again in the next 24 hours if I can find some Wi-fi to steal.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Timing, It's All About

Today (pretend it's still Friday) was on the brink of crisis several times.

I was supposed to work an early shift at work, so I could get off early enough to meet up with Todd and sit at home with him waiting for my relocube to show up. But after a night of very little sleep, and restless sleep at that, I overslept until almost past the time I had to get up on my normal weekday schedule, and by the time my shower was over, I realized I was beat, and there was no way I'd be functional on the job at all. I called out sick, went right back to bed, and woke up a few hours later feeling much better and with a lot more time to do what needed to be done.

Work crisis minimized.

I thought I was good until I started back in on the kitchen and found my countertop covered in a puddle of brownish liquid. What the fuck did I spill? was the first thought through my mind, until I realized there was absolutely nothing knocked over, and I didn't even have any brownish liquid in the house in the first place. So I looked up.


Yes, that is two drops of brownish liquid oozing out of the ceiling. This is how much water dripped out between my discovery at 10:30 and when I dumped it out at about midnight this evening:


The landlord has been alerted, and she came over while it was still a very slow drip, when we decided since I was moving my shit out anyway, and a plumber would have to tear out the ceiling to see what was going on, we might as well just watch it over the weekend and get someone in here next week. The dripping has of course increased in frequency over the course of the day, and Todd taped up a square around it just in case the ceiling decided to let out and collapse under the water weight. It's just compressed cardboard, anyway, so I don't think it'd take very much to convince it to let go.

I suppose it's a good thing it waited until a week before I moved out to act up? I'll take it as a sign that this move is long overdue. I'm just going to pray that it doesn't fall apart while I have people over tomorrow moving boxes out of my place.

Apartment maintenance crisis delayed.

Since I was going to be home for the full time period that my cube was supposed to be arriving, I went over to my neighbor's place to let her know she didn't have to be on call for it this afternoon. Hers had already arrived that morning (just when I woke up the second time, in fact), and I wanted to check how it went. "Someone was parked in one of the spaces," she said. Which wasn't horrible, since there was enough room left on the curb for all three of her shipping containers, but I wondered why she didn't have that car towed, since I'd paid the SFPD for the privilege of having them come and put up "No Parking" signs along 200 feet of the street. And then she pointed out that instead of the signs preventing parking from Thursday the 23rd through Monday the 27th, as I had misread, they in fact only blocked parking on Thursday and Monday, not the days in between. I want to point out at this moment that I asked for August 24th -- Friday -- as the first blocking day. I double-checked the paperwork that I'd given them last Friday. It said the 24th. The police screwed up. (Surprise, surprise: this is San Francisco.)  I called and left a message complaining about this, and still haven't heard back from the person in charge. Or anyone, really. I kind of want my money back, though I don't know if it'll be worth the effort to file a complaint.

The parking spot we needed was empty again I got back home from some errands and from picking up Todd at BART, so I parked my car there just in case. The cube came in the earlier part of the four-hour expectancy period I was given, so I was able to move my car just as the forklift came, and help him block traffic while we got it in place. It was kind of empowering. And relieving.

Parking crisis averted.

The rest of the day went pretty much as I expected. I didn't get much packing done what with everything else, but it's close enough that I can finish up in the morning and as people move things out.  The beer is purchased and in the fridge, waiting for me to order pizza to go with it. I have a lock for the relocube, and ratcheted lines to secure my goods inside it with. I got to spend time with someone important to me, and realized just how much I will be missing those people I am leaving behind. It's going to be hard for the next seven days to keep the crying to a minimum.

Time for bed. Tomorrow's gonna be a doozy. Fingers crossed that it goes smoothly.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A False Impression of Readiness

Question for my picture-nerdy friends: is it worth it to renew my Flickr Pro account? That's $25 a year, which really isn't much. But is there something better/freer that I should be looking into instead?  My account expires on the 28th. And obviously I use it. Just not sure if I use it the full $25's worth.

Dinner tonight was quinoa pasta with hot dogs, salsa and ketchup: the compromise result of having only leftover ingredients in the house, and being not quite prepared mentally for all my dinners to be delivery. I had to force myself to scrounge up even this much, because I knew otherwise I'd be making an emergency pizza call right about ... now. Not sure what it is about the dregs of my pantry being so unappetizing. Except, of course, I guess that's why this stuff is the dregs.

At any rate, that was my reward for finally getting to the real business of packing. I woke up bright and chipper at 8 a.m., rolled back over and slept until 10, and finally got myself showered and dressed by 11 to have at it with the boxing of my apartment. Woo! That's motivated!

Twelve hours, a lot of grunting, and a trip to Home Depot for more boxes later, if we look at one side of my room, it looks like I'm pretty darn close to being completely packed. The closet is empty except for a few things I'll be driving with me and some to-be-shredded paperwork, the bookshelves are mostly-bare, the wine stand/bar thingy no longer is covered in glassware.

Looks great, doesn't it? I feel so accomplished.

And then we turn around and look at the other half of my apartment.


Fuck.  That kitchen's going to be a pain in the ass.

Six days until the house-cooling party and loading of my wordly possessions into a relocube. Less than two weeks left in San Francisco.

What the hell am I doing to myself?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

T-Minus Crazy

Today on the way to Krav, I realized I'm starting to panic about the move.

It's not so much my utter lack of organization at the apartment. I know myself, I know I'm a procrastinator, and I know I'll get it all done in the nick of time (probably at 4 a.m. the day before my House Cooling Party).

But the whole reason for the trip is being called into question now. Is this the right choice? Am I moving for the right reasons? Will I find what I'm looking for, or is it here in SF about to pop up just as I'm moving out? 

Worse yet: am I running towards my demons, rather than escaping from them?

I don't know why I waited so long to do this move. I've been thinking about that a lot, too. I mean, there were the practical reasons — new position, new nephew, finances, fear of co-dependency. Wait, maybe that co-dependency thing is more of the psychological than the practical reasons for staying here. Did I really want to give San Francisco a real chance, or was I just pussy-footing around the fact that I just don't have what it takes to survive this change?

I think I've already given up what I was most afraid of finding was a false idol. I guess that'll be put to the test.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

This Is Why I'm Getting the ReloCube

I spent about an hour and a half tonight pulling all my yarn and knitting stuff out of the closet, ziplock bagging it (stop the spread of moths, if any eggs are in a skein or two), and stuffing it into tubs.

This is the result of tonight's efforts:


The four plastic tubs (one 18-gallon, one 22-gallon, and two 4-gallon) are crammed to almost bursting with yarn. The basket on top has knitting magazines and my three pattern binders.
I've added a bottle of wine to the picture for scale. Because wine and knitting go together pretty well.

Please note that this is not enough.  I still have at least a large tub's worth of yarn, and will need a cardboard moving box for all my knitting books.  And you all just laughed when I told you I had over 36 miles of yarn in my closet. That was when none of you had an idea what it actually looked like.

Is this when I admit I have a problem, or just revel in it?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Fait Accompli

This is what I accomplished today:


It feels fulfilling, until I pull back my view a little
and realize I've only just begun the horror.

I promise I didn't mean to neglect the blog this month. It's shocking just how popular one becomes just by planning to leave. I steal nights to myself here and there, but for the most part I've become a ... well, not a party animal. I guess a social butterfly.

Also, who really wants to hear about a happy Sarah?  Oh, you do? Huh.


Angela was in town for a week near the start of the month, just after the previous entry. We hardly saw each other during the working portion of the week — she was doing the graveyard shift, and I was having my usual evening thingies after work. However, she did school me in the fact that there are some amazing mural alleys down in the Mission that I had no idea existed. I feel chagrin at having walked by them a million times and never thinking to go take a look. I didn't even have a real camera, just my cell phone, but I still tried to take a few shots to remember with.
Clarion Alley

Clarion Alley

Clarion Alley

Clarion Alley

On the one full day we had together, she wanted to go take photos of the Golden Gate Bridge, eat at Avatar's, and see an exhibit at SFMoMA. Since the whole week up to that point had been wonderful, I figured it shouldn't be too hard to pull off, and I knew exactly where to take her for that Golden Gate Bridge shot: the Marin Headlands.

So of course, that was the day San Francisco decided to bring its summer.


That was pretty much the best shot we could get.  Hooray.

Still, Avatar's was good, and the Cindy Sherman exhibit at MoMA was completely worth the foggy, cold day. I don't know many photographers, and actually never thought I'd be into photography exhibits at all (that was always the section I skipped at the Met when I went), but every time I am dragged to MoMA, it's for a photography exhibit, and every time I am impressed beyond (1,000) words.  Perhaps it's time to rethink that prejudice.

The rest of my month was filled with ceramics, Krav, family, friends. One Sunday I spent an early afternoon at Lovejoy's Tea Room with Lila and a couple of her friends.

Lovejoy's for Tea

Lots of fun, and the food was great. (So was the tea: I ended up buying a tin at the Attic across the street.) I wish I had time to go back again and try the non-tea food — they had a pretty good-looking menu of British pub fare that smelled amazing whenever it passed by our table.

There's also been bowling with coworkers, drinking and Pictionary at Maria's house in Oakland, a wine and cheese gathering at Dorian's, Korean BBQ with Stephan ... and things that came up that I never wrote into my Google Calendar. It's to the point I'm almost regretting that I'm going to leave. (Though again: I probably wouldn't be doing most of this if I weren't leaving. That's the catch.)

But the move is set into motion for reals now. Notice has been given to my building manager. Boxes and packing supplies have been purchased (including a plan for safely packing most of my monsters). The House Cooling Party has been planned and scheduled and invites have been sent.

And soon, between the phone calls to friends along the route (to make sure I have a couch to crash on), and the money shuffling, and the frantic boxing of my goods, I'll have to face the piece of my soul that is dying, and decide what to do about it. Whether it's a good thing to let it die, or try to revive it, or just let it linger and see what it does.

All right. I'm going to try to pack one more box. Just to feel like I've truly done something productive with this day.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Double-U, Like Vacuum

I've started several different entries in the last few weeks for this blog, and then let them all sit as Drafts in Blogger, unpublished and collecting dust. I realize it's kind of a waste of server space to write a blog entry that no one will ever see (that's what a diary is for, duh, if I ever got around to having one of those again), but I also realize that some of them done in the heat of emotion probably aren't exactly interesting to the public:  at least one of those was written in the heat of anger against my upstairs stompy neighbor; another, an unfinished attempt at poetry that is almost as bad as the stuff I wrote in high school.

My exodus — does one person count as an exodus? probably not — my departure from SF is becoming more and more real, not the least in part because after a momentary dilemma in the unexpectedly-high cost of pod shipping containers, I finally booked a date with one of them (after negotiating down to a more reasonable price). Which means I have six weeks to sort, purge, pack, and box before I load most of my personal belongings into a crate to go wait for me 2800 miles away.

Now I just need to call the city and get a parking permit for that behemoth.

So of course since I have that limited time left, I'm making the most of my SF experience. Which means I'm enjoying myself here in this city more than I have in years. Of course.

I marched in the SF Pride Parade with my friend Elsie's group (just passing out flyers), with the lesson learned that it's far more fun to be a part of the parade than it is to spectate it.

Last Friday I got a free pass into the dress rehearsal for the final weekend of the SF Ethnic Dance Festival, and it actually changed my attitude towards dance festivals. I mean, it's nerdy, but in an awesome powerful way. I really enjoyed it more than I expected. 

Here's what I wrote yesterday, on the 5th of July:

Yesterday [July 4th] was the first day in weeks that I've had completely to myself — no family or friend obligations, no work, no dates, no need to be anywhere. I took advantage of the endless open hours to actually do a cleansing of the apartment, inspired mostly by the fact that my friend Angela is coming to visit and I didn't really want her to have to constantly inhale my bachelorette filth. So I spent my Fourth of July doing the most patriotic of duties: bleaching my bathroom. Also: vacuuming the apartment.

Really, this is training for the big deal next month, where I purge and pack and eradicate evidence of my existence from this domicile. In a lot of ways I'm looking forward to it — an excuse to lighten the load on my life, get rid of a lot of clutter, and it means I'm getting closer to the day that I don't have to live underneath my heavy-walking upstairs neighbor with his booming television and tendency to stomp around at 6 a.m. and wake me up before the alarm.  (I don't know what changed in the last year that made it more noticeable: did he get rid of a carpet that used to muffle the sounds? buy a new TV? rearrange his bedroom? But I'm bothered by it more and more, wondering how I used to sleep through this when I worked graveyard.  Oh, wait, I didn't: he used to wake me up at noon every day for whatever television show he liked that was on then. I'm just hitting my breaking point.)  Mother fudder.  *flips a birdie in the general direction of up* [Ed note: oh, I guess two entries had some passionate anti-neighbor heat in them.] 

Of course, as the day approacheth, I'm also starting to get a bit nostalgic about this place, too. This was my first apartment that was all mine, only mine. No roommates, no dormlife, no family. I've lived here almost six years, it'll be hard to see it empty. It'll be hard not to think of the people I had over and cooked for, the men I've shared my bed with, the lazy weekends spent naked and curled up in blankets, watching Netflix. The nights I've stumbled home drunk, and woken up four hours later to a path of stripped clothing leading from the door to the bed.

I'm still waxing nostalgic, of course. I mean: only 60 days left. Wow.

And just for fun, here is that terrible poem, to remind us all why I'm not a poet:

I cut off that finger in January.
It was gangrenous, broken, painful.
I kept snagging it on sleeves, corners,
my thoughts. So I chopped it off.
With one quick stroke, it was gone. I thought that
would be it, but the searing fire was worse
than the throbbing, worse than the quiet hurt.
It lasted for weeks. I kept finding bits
of dead skin that needed to be trimmed.
Until finally, it was clean.

At first, it was clumsy, that having to
relearn everything, how to live again.
That finger had been my prod, my crutch,
the digit I did with. And now it was
I worked hard to stop thinking about it.
When I wanted to reach out, I stopped,
took a deep breath, used another.
And as the months passed, six of them, I found that
the other fingers I had were just as
dextrous.  And I found that I had more talents
than I'd let myself believe. More love.

But today I snagged it, that finger that
isn't there anymore. When it didn't hurt,
I looked down, and saw the empty space
and cried a little.

Ouch. Yeah, maybe metaphor isn't my thing.

Tonight is about tidying up, and then this weekend is about family and friends.  I'm tempted to hit up a morning Krav class on my way to the East Bay, but I guess that depends on how early I wake up, and how much I get done tonight.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Pants on Fire

San Francisco is trying to make me out to be a liar.

In the seven years I've lived in this city, I've had two big complaints (let's pretend it was only two big and a lot of little ones): 1) it's always fucking 60 degrees and foggy here, except for two weeks a year in the spring and fall; and 2) there are no single straight men that aren't slimy douchebags.

I've got a lot of other reasons for wanting to move cross-country, but those are the two big ones. Fog is nice for a few days, depressing for an entire summer. Being single was fun ... for the first three years.  After that, it was just lonely, and again: depressing.

So, now that my departure date is set, what happens?

1a: We keep having warm spells — heat waves, if you can call 79 degrees a heat wave — with clear skies. I have a tan, people. I'd forgotten how pretty I look with some color in my face. It's shocking. I might actually start shaving my legs regularly if this keeps up.

2a: Single, straight men that I would actually be interested in dating are starting to pop up out of the woodwork. What's more, some of them even aren't slimy douchebags. It's not like I'm frequenting any different places, or doing any different things. They're on OkCupid, and at Krav, and downtown, where I've always been, and I'm wondering where the hell were you guys a year ago? Argh.

Granted, for both those points above, maybe I am doing things a little differently.

My tan is as much from a sunny San Francisco as it is from the day trip to Great America I took with Elsie a couple weekends ago, and attending the U.S. Golf Open with my dad last Friday, and the weekends spent in the South Bay playing golf with my dad or at the beach with my nephew.  (Did I mention, by the way, that I'm still learning to play golf? And actually liking it? It's a very strange thing indeed.)

And as for the men ... well, I guess it's easy to find someone when you really aren't looking or interested in looking (gah! "they" were all right, again!). And it's also easy to see who is right in front of you when you aren't obsessing over or distracted by some unworthy one else that doesn't want you or treats you like shit.

At any rate: San Francisco, if you'd been this much fun the last seven years, I wouldn't be leaving you. Or maybe it's because I am leaving that I'm taking advantage of all the fun you always had. I dunno what it is.

The last month or so I've been revisiting old stomping grounds, and hanging out and doing and rediscovering all the things I liked about California and the West Coast in general. Maybe it's living in a place makes you (or just me?) blind to what it has. Maybe it's feeling like this is your last chance, and taking it, that makes a place come alive.  (Is that a lesson on how we should live our lives?)

But then again, San Francisco isn't New York. Not by a long shot. So still no regrets.

75 days left. Reality is starting to set in.

Monday, May 28, 2012


My new favorite funny animal video.

O Nature, how you can be cruel.

A few weeks ago, I went out on a date with a guy who was looking for a casual sex kind of thing. Since I have a deadline for relationship lengths here in the city, and I'm not looking for anything serious anyway, I was intrigued and met up with him for a drink.

It was only a short date, over chocolate milk and a shared donut, nothing happened that would prove too scandalous for my ceramics friends to hear about, and we both came away from it agreeing, the next day, that there was a lot more of a friend vibe than a rip-each-others'-clothes-off chemistry.

The question was: what did I want to do? He was willing to try for a casual sex thing for the few months I'm still here, to see if the chemistry would work out. Me, I was more inclined to try for friends first, and maybe see about the sex later. I like making new friends, and I especially like the men I sleep with to be a friend (the best kind of lover is the one you can talk to before and after the sex), so I don't mind going in that order.

I don't think he was big on that, since I haven't heard from him since. Too bad, because he was a pretty good kisser.

Is it wrong to want more friends in your life, even if you will see so little of them?

As my countdown clock counts downward, as my last few months in San Francisco flit by, I'm finding old friends — ones that I lost or stopped seeing years ago — start to cycle back into my life. Peripherally or otherwise.

At Maker Faire two weekends ago, I ran into someone I've known for almost twelve years, but whom I haven't seen in probably three. It was one of those moments where I wasn't sure I recognized him, but he looked up when I said his name, and we ended up making my other friends wait a good ten minutes while we caught up on life. We made sure we still had each others' numbers. I was amused that the note he has about me in his digital address book said something along the lines of "cute girl, probably married by now". We made vague promises to do dinner again some time. Those might actually happen, because he actually seems determined that they do and followed up. It's flattering.

Not so flattering: on Friday I was at Off the Grid (finally made it) with my date, and a few people back in line I realized was another old friend unfriended acquaintance that I haven't seen in four years. I've also known him a long time, probably since 2004. We used to do dinner once a week, back when I worked graveyard, but then we got into a fight, I left exasperated, and even with a couple emails back and forth, it never got resolved. I'm not mad at him (though I still think he was in the wrong, sort of), but I knew it would take a lot more effort than I really felt was worth it just to appease his sense of justice/pride/forgiveness. So I let it drop. I do regret the lost friendship, but not necessarily the decision to let it go. Does that make sense? At any rate, I saw him, but tried to wait to catch his eye before making an approach, just in case. I never caught his eye, despite our standing within six people of each other. I think he was actually avoiding me, and that made me really sad. Was I the asshole? Or was he?

There are other friends that I've let drift that I've been starting to think about again. The two friends that got married this weekend, but I had to miss out because of work and finances and other things that came up. The friend who moved to L.A. a couple of years ago, but I completely forgot she was there until she texted me on my birthday just as I was driving back from Disneyland.  The friend whom I'm always reminded of when I eat pork belly (it's a flattering reminder, trust me!) or walk by Golden Gate University, where he goes/went to law school. The crew from Whiskey Thieves. Two or three nuts from high school that I haven't seen since our ten-year reunion. My ex-roommate. My college ex-roommate.

I need to make the effort to reach out to these friends, to all of these friends. And to the ones that are starting to drift into the months-of-not-seeing. A text just seems inadequate, but the problem with our modern method of having multiple ways to communicate means that the really meaningful way, the phone call, is too scary and too hard. Too much effort.

But I want to try. Because I feel, sometimes, that every friend — that is, everyone who is more than just an acquaintance — is a piece of me. And when I lose them, it leaves a hole. Some are bigger than others, of course. The biggest ones of all still pain me, months or years later; I've got a couple of those, one of which includes the guy from Friday. I thought that one was healed, and I guess it still is, but I still feel kind of empty. Well, emptier than I already had been feeling, sir.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Becoming Wendy

After a two-month hiatus, I'm back to Krav, and the time away shows. I got punched in the nose today, but that's okay, because I managed to get some hits in, too. (Mostly in the stomach, but it's a start, right?)

I look forward to the bruising along my radii. It's nice to have a mild pain like that, so long as it's not in the joints. (Oy, my joints.)

At any rate, I've been keeping a semi-secret from my internet audience, all seven of you. Partly because I was waiting for the people who needed-to-know to be told, partly because I was waiting for some more solid confirmation of timing, partly because ... I dunno. I thought maybe I should be telling more people personally. But I haven't gotten around to that, not with many of you, so now I'm doing it the impersonal way.

As of this writing, my little countdown thingy says I have 104 days left in California, and that's as close as any time to let you all know: I'm moving. To New York City, specifically. I finally guts (gutsed? gussied?) up and asked for the transfer I've been wanting for five years, and actually got a yes. So I have a job to go there to (and I'm really thankful for that), I have a place to stay until I find an apartment of my own, and I have something of a plan to get there.

And I have a map to get there, too. Because, this being me, I sure as hell plan on driving the whole way, and taking my time doing it, too. The whole month of September.

View Epic Road Trip of Awesome in a larger map

I'm not sure which part of this whole thing I'm more excited about: finally moving to NY, or finally driving cross-country. There's so much I've always wanted to see, and now I'm getting a chance to see some of it.

I've already contacted a few friends along the route to see if I can schmooze a place to stay for a night or two, but if you are sort of on the route, and I know you, and you would like me to try to drive by, feel free to shoot me an email and I'll see if I can work you in.

San Francisco friends, this means you've got just over three months left before you're rid of me. Take advantage to get a few kicks in before I go.

And New York friends, I'm finally coming home. I can't wait to see you and make you sick of me over a long period of time, instead of just a week or so.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Gone Native


It must be spring, since we've had three beautiful weekends in a row here in San Francisco. I am awaiting the inevitable impeding cool down of summer that I know is on the horizon, lurking.

At any rate, the sun was good, because it made my first baseball game ever a great, warm experience. Can't imagine sitting in the stands, shivering with cold as I watch a game that's not hockey.

Instead, it was the kind of day you see in the movies. The ones that convince tourists that San Francisco isn't all fog and wind, and lures them into visiting town with shorts and tank tops.

AT&T Park

I joined old friends Michelle and Tamica for a game in celebration of the latter's birthday. Giants vs. Brewers, and it was a good thing they (we, I guess?) won, because it made the last four innings or so actually entertaining and enthralling.  We didn't have to keep ourselves completely occupied with just food

AT&T Park

or men dressed up as horses for the Kentucky Derby.
AT&T Park

Afterwards at my suggestion we headed to Straw for "high-end carnival food" (my description which won the group over). My recommendation: eat one of everything. It was all good. Even the cotton candy cocktail.


Today, I met up with Michelle and Tamica for brunch (thus making this completely an SF native type of weekend) at Serpentine (with stop for ice cream and cookies at Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous) (get the Pink Squirrel, it's tops). It's out Dogpatch way, which is a neighborhood that gets little attention from me, so we did a little wandering and stumbled on a tiny park right on the bay, surrounded by warehouses and dead Market Street signage.






It's amazing how a city that I've been a part of for seven years now can still surprise and awe me.

It is also amazing how a little sun can change one's opinion of one's home town. Maybe I will be leaving with some regret. Just a little.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Thousand Island

Downtown, this morning.

Dressinged Up

Pretty much no one stopped to blink at this, by the way. C'est la vie, San Francisco. C'est la vie.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Better at the Bedroom Version

I was trying to find a video that sufficiently captured the quality of my golf swing, and instead stumbled on this. I'd forgotten about that Blendtec guy.

I did not slice and dice any golf balls today during my first-ever lesson. However, this does rather well symbolize the quality of my technique.

So far, it doesn't look like quitting my job and going golf pro is in my near future. But that's okay. I'm getting through this with a bottle glass of wine. That makes everything better.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


I am tired of coughing. I'm sure my coworkers are tired of my coughing, too. It's almost a joke at the office at this point: people have stopped asking if I'm all right while I'm in the middle of an especially violent fit, and instead just make funny comments about the audibility of my cooties. By the time I have control enough to speak and come back with a witty quip, they've already left the room or gone back to their press release.

I've also probably hacked up enough mucus in the last couple of weeks to feed a mob of holy anorexics. At least the phlegm I'm expectorating has stopped being in the range of bright green to solid yellow, and started to fade into the light daffodil to clear spectrum. I think that means I am getting better.

That's all. For now. Expect more adventures coming up, such as the hilarity of my first golf lesson (this coming Saturday, weather and personal health permitting); the people you meet while riding a community bus route; and an explanation of the new little countdown thingy to the below right of this very blog entry.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Extended Family

I drove back into town early last night, the trip from Eugene not as bad I had expected, what with the head cold and all.


I realize now that I took hardly any pictures of my trip to the Pacific Northwest this time around. Perhaps because I've been there, done that, a few times before. Not to say I was bored on this trip at all — just that it was more of a mental refresh than a fancy new adventure.

And that suited me just fine.

I found on this trip a reminder that there's two kinds of family: the one you're born into, and the one you accumulate through friendships. It's easy to forget about the latter when I'm embroiled in a cloak of depression and routine. It was such a relief to let go just a little and be one of the parts of myself that doesn't get a chance to escape too often.

Because really, that's what family is: the people who know you so well that you let go around them, emotionally and psychologically and mentally. You act with them differently than you would around the rest of the world and — if they're the good kind of family — you know that pretty much no matter what you do they'll still open the door and let you crash and vent and release.

So. Easter weekend I stayed with Steph, whom I've known since high school and survived Epic Farts with and we still haven't yet killed her, and together we pretty much acted like we were still in high school: driving around town, spending too much money on stuff, hanging out at the bookstore (Oh, Powell's, how I love you so) (I controlled myself, by the way: only spent $180!) (Mostly because the basket was getting too heavy for me to carry it anymore. And Steph needed to move the car, so it was time to leave.), eating, and poking around in nature looking for rocks.

The week after was spent with the Kirkland Crew, and working out of my company's Seattle office. Most of the trip involved drinking and bullshitting, board games and bad movies. A night of dinner and wine with Emily and her new beau, happy hour on Friday with the coworkers, and a couple excursions to Pike Place Market pretty much rounded out the trip. The drive down was eased by a stopover in Eugene with my cousin Ryan, the weather was nice enough for a walk before dinner, and then a soft warm bed to pass out in before making the final journey back to San Francisco.


Nothing terribly exciting to report, then. At least, not about my vacation. Maybe my happiest vacations are the least eventful ones. The big adventure, however, is coming up this late summer/early fall. Hopefully that will make up for all of this.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Insanity of Nostalgia

It's been high time for a while now for me to go through my chest of drawers and do a purge of clothes I no longer wear. I had to be harsh on myself this time: I have a lot of stuff in there, much of it hasn't seen daylight in months (or years), and some of it I've been keeping around in the fruitless hope that I will lose the weight and be able to wear it again. (Cue the laugh track.)

To keep me occupied (and to drown out the loud TV noise of my somewhat-selfish upstairs neighbor) I popped in one of my old "The Dynamic Groovy Music Hour" tapes. If you've been paying attention, you may know that this was my old program from my college radio days. This particular tape was of the last show of my Freshman year. I've got the basics down, but I talk so damn much — it would be amazing that I had any listeners at all, if I didn't also have good taste in music. Most of these songs I haven't listened to in about a decade, so it's been nice to revisit them.

Then I found this gem, and it touched a chord deep within me. This one definitely fell out of the cracks of my brain, but I kind of wish I had the chance to play it for one person in particular. It's definitely ridiculous, even though I still catch myself from time to time having those exact feelings. (Like, for instance, when a certain jerkface completely forgets my birthday. Still bothering me. I thought I'd be over all that by now. Guess I'm not.)

You should see the blogs I write but don't post on here. Better yet: you shouldn't. Those are the ones I write just to vent those feelings out into some sort of medium, and then lock up away. Hoping they will disappear, out of sight, out of mind.

At any rate, I should get back to cleaning. The clothes have been purged, and the ones that are left actually fit(!) in the drawers, which is nothing short of a miracle. A week of being too busy to think has left the rest of my apartment in a state of anarchy, and now that I've finally recovered (and my date for the evening has been canceled), I can put some focus into clearing the chaos.

ETA: Something else I re-discovered in K7-land:

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Last night, I was at one of my local bars, having a post-game (hockey) (Sharks won, btw) (and yeah, I was shocked, too) drink with some friends from work, when the guy next to me started talking to me, asking me to help him get a glass of water from the too-busy-to-be-attentive bartends. I thought he was flirting with me, and my friends thought he was flirting with me, and he was kind of cute, and I didn't mind so much the interruption. So I figure whatever and we converse for a bit, and then suddenly he throws out the curve ball: his friend actually is the one who thinks I'm cute, and wants flirting guy to introduce me to him.

Guys, this is how to be a bad wingman. Instead of smoothly saying something that gets your friend interested in the conversation, then introducing, and then slowly slipping back as the two winged people engage in chat, you've suddenly turned it all into a scene straight out of high school. "Do U Like My Friend? Circle 1: Y or N"

By the way, does this tactic ever work? Me, I like my guys a little cocky and aggressive, which means if they're not going to chat me up themselves, then I'm likely not going to be interested. I mean, I know what it's like to be shy, and afraid of rejection, but that's what alcohol was invented for in the first place, right?

(Also, whenever my friends did this for me in high school, it never got me anything other than more ridicule and shame and feelings of being a failure at life. Maybe my friends were clumsy wingwomen, too. Maybe we all just needed a straight drink.)

Perhaps I'm just picky.

I got the latest Legend of Zelda game for my birthday, which means I've spent most nights of the last week fighting giant spiders and red monsters, and collecting fairies and bugs. I'd say it was time well spent, though my flabbifying muscles might claim otherwise. (So yeah, I may have skipped Krav in order to play a video game ...)

Speaking of: why am I here talking with all of you, when I have a princess to find and a Hyrule to save?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Two to the Fifth


When I was a little girl, as my mother likes to remind me, I had a love-hate relationship with birthdays. I loved getting all the presents, but I hated having people over and having to deal with them and most of all I hated not being able to win any of the party games because I was the hostess and it would be rude to do that.

Inevitably, so Mom tells me, I would end up hiding in my bedroom, and there would probably be crying.

Fast forward 25 years or so later, and I no longer balk at inviting a bunch of friends (though notice that they aren't invited over to my actual house, just to meet at a public spot). I no longer expect presents. But the crying remains. Just a little bit, this year, I swear! But it seems like something of a tradition that I just gotta keep up. (Crying rule exception: my birthday in 2007. Thank you, Spyder.)

As readers of this blog may suspect, I had been planning a trip to Disneyland for this weekend just past. It was in honor of my 32nd birthday, and honestly probably ended up being the best birthday ever. Of my 30s, at least. Call me a consumer whore if you will, but sometimes it's just worth it to sell out your soul.

Especially when it gets you a chance to do breakfast with Eeyore.
Through the Looking Glass, this is.

Just about to hop on Star Tours.

There is just something about Disneyland that makes it special. I was trying to explain it to Michelle and Tamica tonight, and Michelle had to comment that she was amazed at how my monologue about the experience had absolutely no trace of my usual sarcasm or cynicism. That's how amazing it is. (And perhaps a peek into my secret self that still, sort of, wants to grow up to be a princess. But shh! That's just between us, right?) Something about the idealization of reality, and the strict adherence to a code of conduct that is likely beaten into the park's employees, just makes it a perfect bubble. It's almost — almost — enough to give me a reason to move to Southern California so I can have access to it any time I want.

Perhaps I'm the only one who thought this was an odd juxtaposition of signage.

So yeah, I regressed to being a seven-year-old. A seven-year-old with a 30-something's income and cash flow. And credit cards.


I might have spent a lot of money. I'm not saying, and neither are my new plushie Eeyore, my R2D2 plastic drinkstein, nor my Disneyland Castle Throw.


Emily and I drove back into town late last night, and today after mooching around the apartment and then throwing her out, I got dolled up for the SF celebration at House of Prime Rib.

Primed Ribbing
These people did a really great job of convincing me that they liked me. So either they are good actors ... or I'm really pulling the wool over their eyes. Thanks, everyone. You really made me feel amazingly special, even though you all are the special ones.

I love being a meat eater. Sorry, my veggie friends.

Primed Ribbing

Could I have had a better birthday extravaganza? Perhaps, if, as Laura had suggested, I'd been able to get myself a 19-year-old cabana boy to take care of me for the evening. Or had won the lottery. Or something. But those are dreams. And being realistic, I couldn't have asked for anything more awesome.

Best. Birthday. Ever. With or without the crying, I still win.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Waiting for Magic


Daffodils are my favorite flowers, which is kind of saddening when you realize they are only available at this time of year. The rest of the year I have to make do with other, lesser blooms. I'm waiting for this batch to Pop open.

I had a friend over tonight for crockpot-carnitas tacos. (And yes: they were amazingly delicious. I make a good spice rub.) The best part about having a guest over — aside from the whole "I have friends!" joy, and the conversation, and the sharing of food, and all the other things — is that it really is the only thing that actually motivates me to clean the apartment. Never can do it just for myself.

I leave for my Disneyland vacation in less than 36 hours, and only just now did I bother to rustle through my papers to find the Disney Rewards card I'd gotten from Chase. I've had a "Mickey Mouse" card for years now, and the big rewards was Disney dollars. (Not that I was thinking about the rewards at the time I signed up for the card: I was thinking about the 0% APR on transferred balances, and the crazy-at-the-time 17% APR I had on my Discover card. Disney dollars were bonus, even if I never used 'em.) This is now $170 I wouldn't really be able to spend anywhere else — The Disney Stores don't have movies anymore, it seems, which is a bummer — meaning that my living paycheck-to-paycheck habit just got me a free Disneyland lunch. And maybe one of those mouse ear hats. Huzzah.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Shy Camera, Lifeless Night

March is supposed to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb. Not true in San Francisco, apparently. Well, I guess it did rain on the 1st. Just a little. Hardly even worth mentioning. Today was in the high 60s or low 70s, and the natives were out in tank tops, shorts, skirts. I left Krav wishing I'd brought a skirt to change into for my walk through the city, wishing that I didn't have to lug my suddenly-unnecessary leather jacket around town.

Meanwhile, of course, there are tornadoes ravaging the Midwest. I know SF will get its comeuppance soon enough, the depression that comes with a sunless summer, but for now here is paradise. Tomorrow is expected to be much the same. I'm looking forward to soaking up as much of it as possible.

Right now, I had fully intended to be at the Red Devil Lounge to see some live music, have a drink, maybe even be social with some strangers. But then I got home from my walk around the city to find that season six of Doctor Who had been added to Netflix. And I looked at the new sweater I had started to cast on for, and thought about the money I could save by staying in and drinking some of the wine I already have, and then I realized that the washing machine was actually free and I had laundry to do ... and so here I am, in a pair of pajama pants, one load in the wash and one in the dryer, eating leftovers for dinner. Hooray my exciting weekend.

But that's okay, I have more to look forward to: Emily called this afternoon to discuss our impending trip to Disneyland, and pointed out that it is taking place in a week. Seven days. I had hardly realized it — I can scare believe that March has already begun, seriously, much less that it actually involves my going someplace further away than San Jose — and now the excitement is bubbling up.