March 26, 2011
Vegas Fail

People in general seem to like roller coasters.

Or perhaps it’s just that the people who do like roller coasters are much more vocal about it than the people who don’t.  Because once you’ve reached adulthood, it’s kind of embarrassing to admit that you find the type of amusement that most eight-year-olds consider riding to be a primary goal in life to be absolutely terrifying.

I myself am not much of a fan.  I’m fine on say, Space Mountain, but I hate the feeling that you get when you suddenly drop precipitously, that stomach-in-your-throat sensation that is evidently the point of most roller coasters, so if I can see where the track is heading and/or I don’t have a former Disney “cast member” among my entourage to assure me that there are no free falls ahead, I won’t go.  While this has historically been a source of minor annoyance to my parkgoing companions (mostly because I hem and haw and stand in line and chicken out at the last minute, muttering, “If only someone had a Xanax!), it actually has one very real benefit: I am an excellent and willing holder of purses.

The New York, New York Hotel and Casino has a roller coaster on its grounds.  My friend Gilian and a couple of our coworkers were extremely keen to ride it, so we decided to swing by before dinner one night (and by before dinner I mean at about 9:30 PM, because we were in Vegas, after all).  The entrance to the coaster is buried deep inside the casino, inside a labyrinthine arcade, and when we reached it, there was a fairly extensive line.  I had briefly considered mustering up the courage to ride, but the courage I had in mind was the liquid kind and I feared that bourbon and roller coasters don’t mix.  Gilian handed me her purse as they took their places, and I headed to the exit to wait for them.

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February 28, 2011
An Awesome Weekend

Recently I’ve started hanging out with a really fantastic group of girls.  It’s been a while since I’ve had a large social group - since college, really - so I am really enjoying the dynamic of having a lot of people around a lot of the time.  Over the past few years I’ve devoted most of my friendship energy to a few very close friends, and while I think those types of friendships are the most nourishing and important over time, it’s been a welcome change to feel, for lack of a better word, popular.

Last week was an emotionally exhausting one, so I was looking forward to a fun, mostly carefree weekend.  On Friday night, we started off with happy hour at a newish place in the Mission called Heart.  Heart is, if such a thing is not an oxymoron, an unpretentious wine bar - the wine list is extensive and well curated but the wines are served in little Mason jars instead of wineglasses, and the seating is communal.  We spoke with the owner, who can’t be much older than in his late twenties, and he told us about how he wanted to create a casual, convivial space where anyone would feel comfortable dropping by for a bottle or two of wine and some delicious snacks.  I’m always really impressed with people who have had a vision and managed to execute it despite their youth, so I found him very inspiring.  Afterward we headed over to Zare at Fly Trap, a Mediterranean restaurant with a Persian influence, where we lingered for several hours over great food and amazing martinis, and I had the opportunity to meet several more cool new people.

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February 24, 2011
Ashes

I never let people read my fiction.  It requires much more vulnerability to publish something imagined than a personal perspective on something that actually happened.  But in light of my pre-Valentine’s day post, and the fact that I have nothing particularly noteworthy to report today, I thought I’d let you all read a short story I wrote (well, technically it’s the beginning of a novel, but that went off the rails quickly and has yet to be redeemed) as a means of coping with my grandfather’s death and as a way of celebrating the lake where we spent hundreds of happy days over the years.  Many artistic liberties have been taken, and obviously the mother in this story bears literally no similarities to my own mother.  I hope you enjoy it.

***

            They scattered her grandfather’s ashes on the first summery Sunday in May.  Eddie Chevalier watched silently, a lump forming at the back of her throat, as her mother Josée slid the cover off the small cedar box in which they – he – had been stored for the past five months.  “I thought there would be more of him,” Josée remarked emotionlessly as she scooped up a palmful of weightless grey dust and sprinkled it over the edge of the weathered dock into the transparent bottle-green lakewater beneath it.

            In fact there had been more of him, and there still was, in a black plastic film canister in the zippered inside pocket of Eddie’s handbag.  This was her secret.  So was the stiff new passport that inhabited the same hidden pocket, and the Air France ticket tucked inside its front cover.

            The sun burned high in the cloudless cerulean sky, and its rays glinted off the rippled surface of the lake as if off thousands of facets on a giant blue diamond.  The air was warm and dry, but a cool breeze blew across the water, bearing with it the fresh green scent of the forests that surrounded the lake, the flinty smell of the granite peaks buried in them, and the powdery sweetness of the lilac trees that flanked the cottage.  It smelled like Eddie’s childhood, like so many things she had loved without realizing it, taking them for granted just as she had her grandfather.  She wished that she could bottle it up like perfume and dab it on whenever she felt sad or lonely, which was usually, these days anyway.

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February 18, 2011
Sad Puppy

Rosie has been acting very strange and needy all week.  Whenever Grace or I get home from work, she enforces mandatory cuddle time by making the most heartbreaking noises imaginable.  It works consistently:

We haven’t been able to figure out why all the drama, but my new theory is that she’s psychic and has known for days that 240 shortsighted jerks in the House of Representatives were going to vote to defund Planned Parenthood.  That has to be it.

February 14, 2011
Not a bad haul for a single girl…

Not a bad haul for a single girl…

February 14, 2011
Hilarious/Awkward Thing Rosie Did Today

This morning I had an 8am conference call.  I always take early calls from home because my commute is unpredictable - it could take 50 minutes or it could take an hour and 50 minutes (although thankfully the latter is extremely rare, but it can happen if there’s an accident or something) - and it’s illegal to talk on a cell phone while driving in CA unless you use a headset. 

So there I was in my bedroom, testing out my Bluetooth for the first time, trying to conduct important business…when Rosie leaps into my lap and starts like, moaning. So loud. I seriously have never heard such strange noises come out of a dog, and of course she was simultaneously trying to lick my face so she was basically yowling right into my microphone.  All I could think was, everyone on this call probably thinks I am making these noises, which naturally struck me as hilarious and in addition to trying to calm her down I also had to keep myself from bursting into hysterical laughter.

I did manage to pull it together, although I basically had to hold Rosie like a baby for 10 minutes while simltaneously trying to take notes.  I’m sure it would have been quite the sight.  I can only presume Rosie is sad that she doesn’t have a Valentine of her own…

February 11, 2011
Why Valentine’s Day Makes Me Sad

Valentine’s Day makes me sad, but not for the usual reasons.  I mean, sure, this year will mark the first time since 2007 that I either haven’t had a Valentine or at least had someone - or in the case of last year multiple someones - attempting to be my Valentine by sending me flowers or chocolates or smushed and slightly stale cupcakes from San Francisco. (Incidentally I was somewhat famous throughout the Cambridge office for receiving gifts and flowers from men I was not actually involved with.  To the point that I occasionally had to call the flower company and convince them to tell me who they were from.)  I’ve made my peace with that and it isn’t really an issue anymore.

The reason Valentine’s Day makes me sad is because two years ago today, my beloved grandfather, who I lived across the street from and saw multiple times a week for almost my whole entire life, passed away after a long battle with COPD, and his funeral was held on Valentine’s Day 2009.  So I don’t think it’s ever not going to make me a little sad to see February 14 roll around.

That said, unsolicited surprise deliveries of nice things are always welcome.  You know, to cheer me up.

February 9, 2011
Homesickness and Wanderlust

I’m really missing my Boston friends today.

You must all be really cold right now.  Don’t you want to meet me in like, Miami or Cancun or something for a long weekend next month?  It would be like the spring break we never had.

Seriously, this?

Or this?

Think it over.

February 9, 2011
Sunny Days

So, not that this is in an effort to inspire jealousy among East Coast residents who are experiencing basically the worst winter ever or anything, but it was in the mid to upper 70s here the entire weekend.  I spent basically all the daylight portions of the weekend that did not coincide with the Super Bowl lounging around in Dolores Park.

Dolores Park on sunny weekends is excellent for several reasons.  First, the authorities in San Francisco are perfectly comfortable with open containers, so you can drink to your heart’s content.  Second, it’s like two blocks from Bi-Rite Market, possibly the greatest market ever in the history of the universe, so you can picnic on things like French lentil salad with crispy house-made Liberty duck prosciutto, truffled California goat cheese, and Vosges Black Salt Caramel dark chocolate bars.  Well, if you feel like an exorbitantly expensive picnic.  Third, everyone and their brother brings their dogs, so it’s kind of like being the referee at the Puppy Bowl.  Fourth, people-watching hipsters is the most fun, and it’s like Mecca for hipsters.  And their children, who are cuter than a sandbox full of kittens.  Seriously, even though I am not a hipster myself, when I have children, I am going to dress them in ethnic scarves and anachronistic hats and give them names like Lulu and Atticus.  It is going to be extremely insufferable.

Anyway, what was I saying?  The park.  Best way to spend a gorgeous weekend day ever, except maybe shucking your own oysters in Tomales Bay or hiking in Big Sur or wine tasting in Napa or doing any one of, oh, about a thousand things that are within a three-hour drive of here.  I’m pretty sure I just moved cross country, but it’s possible that plane crashed and I actually went to heaven. 

(Speaking of air travel debacles, the other night I dreamt that my plane had to make an emergency landing in China and the government officials held us captive.  I don’t know why I’m having dreams about fraught international affairs, but I am.  I suppose I had been drinking.)

For Super Bowl I went to the million-dollar Noe Valley apartment where a friend of a friend was house sitting for an all-girls event.  We had the most amazing spread of appetizers and a stockpot full of deadly sangria (as deadly as mine, even though it wasn’t) and had a tremendous time playing commercial-related drinking games.  I had to drink every time a media-related commercial came on.  Not unrelatedly, I fell asleep soon after Glee ended.  I met some wonderful people, and also felt a sense of personal artistic accomplishment to see that the artwork on the walls of this incredible place, all detail shots from Paris, were in many cases almost identical to several I took and have hanging in my room.  This had a side effect of making me really nostalgic for my erstwhile Paris-themed apartment (even if spending too long there was somewhat akin to being beaten about the head with a miniature Eiffel Tower) but what can you do?  Ask your mom to ship you your Eiffel Tower wine rack and Montmartre place mats, I guess?

February 8, 2011
Camera Fails

It occurred to me that some of you may be wondering why I’ve posted barely any pictures since arriving in California.

Well…I lost my camera.  Well, technically I didn’t lose it, but let’s just say that that’s the last time I go passing around electronics at vodka-soaked house parties.

I’d be less annoyed if I hadn’t already ruined my last camera when I was in India in November.  Lesson learned: when carrying a liter bottle of water in one’s purse, one should ensure that the cap is screwed on tightly.

Maybe if I replace it with an SLR it will force me to be more careful?  I mean, I finally upgraded to designer sunglasses based on that logic and I’ve had them for like, five years.  Alas, they’re all like hundreds of dollars out of my budget… 

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