Thursday, December 31, 2009


Had a great Oregon visit... I should have kept track of comings & goings. But I do remember:

- Two quiet days at home with just Mum & Tim.
- Mer's arrival with Brian, Sunny, and the gerbils.
- Our kids' night out in Hood River with Joe -- from the British pub to the brew pub.
- Sister time in Portland, at Powell's and the Pearl Bakery, while Brian took the GRE's.
- Dinner at Celilo.
- A walk in the leftover slush up the old logging road, with Brian & Mer.
- A walk up the old highway with Dad, Mer, & Sunny. We came across a little waterfall that looked like somewhere in Ireland, a setting for elves and unicorns. Then Sunny met up with another dog & played with vigor. We noticed the redness of the fallen leaves. We returned as the sun was completely setting, and Christmas lights were going on across the river in Washington.
- Christmas eve at Maribeth & Robin's.
- Christmas morning -- waking up to the Nutcracker Suite blasting in the living room, as Mum tried to get us out for presents. Presents! Then getting ready and dressed for Christmas dinner with Grammy.
- Dinner at the Inn, overlooking the Columbia.
- Impromptu family reunion with Mom's cousin. Gouda the English bulldog & the cat-like Japanese Chin.
- A snowy hike with Mum & Mer up Gilhouly.
- Working at Dog River Coffee, then getting pizza with Mum & Mer & exploring bookstores.
- Lazy mornings, reading by the fire & drinking coffee.
- A last moonlit walk with Merrie & Sunny -- the moon was so bright we didn't need a flashlight, and the trees even had shadows.

Friday, December 18, 2009

prepping for a holly jolly christmas

Tonight Merrie & her boyfriend, Brian, arrive. With Sunny the sheltie & two gerbils in tow. Wondering what it will be like to add these creatures to the current mix -- Mum, Tim, me, Sasquatch the cat, and Benny the luck dragon dog. I arrived Weds. night, and Mum & Tim both had trouble sleeping. So last night, the dog and the cat ended up on MY bed. Funny story, that. Benny was quite fine, sitting by the fire in the living room, until he suddenly realized that, with me going to bed, HE WAS ALL ALOOOOOONNNNEEEE. CRISIS! He started barking. I came out, gave him a soft kick (not an oxymoron), shushed him, went back to my room & Sasquatch the cat. Benny started barking AGAIN. Well, not wanting him to wake up the parents, I took him into my room. But instead of curling up on the floor, he looked up at me, expectantly. I whispered that he had radically misunderstood the conditions upon which he was invited into my room. LEAPS onto the bed, which is rather high for a 10" high creature. Well, at that point, Sasquatch moved to the foot of the bed. Benny tried to wiggle up closer, but I halted him and said, BOUNDARIES. All was fine for the first four hours. Then Benny's periodic maneuvering and licking noises got to me and he was evicted.

Oh, pets.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

why I hate shopping for phones

Kid you not, this is the description for ATT's LG Neon:

Looking for a fun and flirty texting device that will get you noticed? Get ready for the LG NEON(TM) by AT&T! This compact and colorful phone lets you stay connected to your social circle wherever you go. Dial quickly using the external touch screen or slide out the full QWERTY keyboard for fast and easy messaging. Use Bluetooth® capabilities to share contacts, calendar events, notes, and more with all your friends. And, to really stand out in the crowd, groove to songs from your favorite playlists while multitasking. Taking pictures or video with the 2 MP camera is also a snap. Capture your latest look with the self-portrait mirror, then send out the photos to show off your trendsetting style. Go on - get accessorized and get attention with the LG NEON.

If you were wondering, YES, this is definitely being marketed to 14 year old girls. I JUST WANT TO BE ABLE TO TEXT WITHOUT HITTING THROUGH FOUR LETTERS EVERY TIME I NEED A Z!

Monday, November 23, 2009

last days on the equator

productive workshops all day in class (well, after the xeroxing was done, during which interval we played "fuzzy wuzzy likes" and "around the world in 80 days"). commenting on stories via email in the afternoon. best butter chicken ever at a totally deserted indian restaurant. man at toast box anticipated my order: I've ordered the same thing around the same time in the evening enough times that he's got it -- kopi with milk, take away. he said he'd see me tomorrow. the other part of my routine is making eye contact with the ridiculously cute guy who waits at the same bus stop in the morning. might miss these things.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

singapore, again

Writing because my camera = NOT WORKING (a story for another time -- how not to lend your camera to a guy you're sleeping with for the hell of it and have no emotional/ intellectual interest in, because the camera MIGHT NOT WORK when it comes back to you. Also, he might forget to return the cord to upload the photos. Actually, this might be more about not sleeping with people you have no interest in, more than a lesson about a camera). ANYWAYS.

I'm a bit homesick. Last time Marissa and I were doing this together, and I felt pretty good about the timing of it all. This time around, I'm anxiously anticipating the colloquium that's happening a week after I return (actually, have no time to be anxious about it, which makes me more anxious). And today (Singapore time) I missed Randy's birthday party which was last night (SF time). I had that terrible feeling -- urgently wishing to be elsewhere (more specifically, that I was dancing and hot tubbing with friends on a Saturday night, rather than taking a nap in Singapore on a Sunday afternoon.


Shopping trip.

In my defense, tho., Kenji (fellow instructor) & I DID go to the Asian Civilizations Museum in the morning. And then to try a kaya toast stall.

I walked by the old places, went to the favorite clothing store, found a fantastic dress & top (the latter being 25% off with purchase of former), did a little Christmas shopping, explored the new ION mall (as in, EYES ON ORCHARD), which really DOES have a nice food court. I had scoffed that they were all the same, but this one really was particularly sparkly. I had a cheap dinner tho., of glutinous rice & fresh spring rolls, which I carried back and ate on the terrace of the hotel. And then I did some work, went swimming, had dessert... I guess it was ok.

But the teaching takes so much out of one. And I think I should have done a better job of explaining the syllabus so as to have the afternoon = study hall writing time, with a set-up activity each day. The students are delightful young people, of course, but jeez. Draining.

Last night I went with Kenji and his TA for Chinese food at Clarke Quay on the river. I think my stomach was not entirely happy with the spiciness factor. But the river at night and the "mer-lion" fountain... nice.

And before... I've gone back to Little India, out for Indonesian & Thai, marveled over the dainties imported from Fauchon in Paris...

The most ridiculously amazing things for me right now:

ORCHARD ROAD AT CHRISTMAS TIME: It's like Seuss threw up all over Orchard Road. There are big yellow globes with red patterns hanging from the trees. ALL the trees. And at close intervals, swirly arches with red inlaid circles. AND ALL OF THIS LIGHTS UP AT NIGHT. Oh yes, because the first night I went down Orchard at dusk, and thought, well, it's over the top, but I'm pleasantly surprised that they didn't add lights. MOMENTS LATER: LIGHTS ON! Also, tree sculptures. And actual trees (or fake trees) decked out in ornaments and lights. AND CHRISTMAS MUSIC. Everywhere. And when it's not Christmas music, it's Miley Cyrus or soft rock hits from the 90's.

THE SUBTERRANEAN POOL: This hotel has a pool. The pool is underground. This is supposed to make it so you can swim regardless of the weather. Singaporeans apparently didn't get the memo that it's always hot here? Or didn't want to deal with the occasional 20-minute bout of rain? Anyways, turns out, they then realized the water wasn't warm enough, since the pool was inside, and inside = air conditioning, here. So the pool is heated. And surrounded by fake foliage and rocks, to make it look like a lost paradise starring Leo DiCaprio. The jacuzzi is tastefully obscured by a fake rock wall. Oh, and there's a little waterfall going into the jacuzzi. The kid pool involves a slide. The ceiling has blue sky with clouds painted on. In other words: they did everything they could to help you pretend that this pool is outside, while claiming that an outside pool would be quite inconvenient.

That may or may not be an analogy.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


1) Mer & Brian's visit: Excellent SF introduction. We went to Hardly Strictly, out in the Mission for Pakwan and Bi-rite ice cream, Tartine for brunch, Ocean Beach for sights... Then it was sadly already time to say goodbye. Mer is too adorable. Especially when she climbs into bed with you in the morning to chat.

2) Hardly Strictly w/ the roommates, Steve, Irena. Best moment: listening to Neko Case's I Wish I Was the Moon from Steve's shoulders. Then we had dinner and impromptu dance lessons back at 410.

3) Roommate dinner with Steve: this involved baby octopus, too many mussels, and too much crab. We blamed it on Steve. Who was surprisingly good at managing a kitchen full of people, food, and tasks. Kimon said he's be a good manager, if he was into that sort of thing.

4) Mysterious cough. Let's not talk about it. Now my ribs hurt, probably from the ridiculous, not-the-aftereffect-of-a-virus cough. I reject the doctor's prognosis that I'm developing asthma.

5) An amazing 4 days of activity. Weds -- Standing room at the opera, only $10, and we saw a great production of Salome! Pizza and beer w/ Helene, Garth, Nikil, Shannon, Allie, Irena... Thurs -- Hemlock for beer, The Don'ts, and Steve trying to set me up with a guy who looked catatonic and was living out of his car on Haight. But he *was* cute. Helene called a stop to it when she saw him rummaging in ash trays for cigarette butts. Probably a good call. Fri. -- welcome party/dance party. As Steve said, I was the first to start dancing, and the last to stop. As he *also* said, I dance the same to every song, only when I know the lyrics, I point. Good times. Slept over at Randy and Emilie's, got brunch in the morning. Nicknamed Steve "Emma." Sat. -- dinner party with Jill, Danny & Sarah, and Kevin, which turned into Kevin's surprise 30th birthday. With our homemade karaoke machine. ALSO good times. Sunday I had major recuperating, in the form of shopping and thinking about Halloween costumes.

6) Buying an overpriced sexy Marie Antoinette costume. Steve talked me into it. And when else will this opportunity ever arise?!

7) Roommate shopping trip to Rainbow. The line? 45 minute wait. Home for tasting, sampling, pickling...

ALSO: colloquium = Dec. 3rd. teaching in Singapore = nov. 8th - 24th.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Rome, Florence, Paris

And back again to the bay area. It was lovely, but I think for now I'm leaving the journal notes where they are -- in the books that I was reading along the way (namely, Goethe's Werther, Baldwin's Giovanni's Room, and Zola's Belly of Paris). Maybe I'll transcribe them on some cold, rainy November day.

Back home & trying to be more serious this year. Also cooking and baking a lot. A week ago we had an impromptu dinner party in honor of Garth's birthday, where we made roasted patty pan squash and chickpeas, yummy goat cheese and fig crostini, roasted cauliflower, and walnut and apple salad (with the new favorite 410 dressing: maple syrup and mustard, equal parts). The next night Steve hosted a dinner party in Berkeley, where the menu was fried eggplant with tomato-mint chutney and yogurt. Sorbet and fruit for dessert. And the NEXT night, we had an apartment dinner, with an eclectic mix of pear-sherry-vinegar salad, brie and pate and bread, corn pudding, and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Then I had to run to the Blitzen Trapper concert, where I was "taken under the wing" of four tall guys. One of whom is named Will, and sporadically texts me. Recipes follow.

squash and chickpeas: easy!

really easy if you chicken out and put the pudding in ramikins rather than in the bowls of the squash:

clearly I switched out the raisins in favor of chocolate:

The other day I made my usual wheat bread. And then these amazing brownies:

And tonight I made this soup, but decided to skip the premade broth. It didn't suffer for it. Now I have tons of soup. Mer, help eat soup!!

I'm all ready for Mer's arrival. I have all sorts of California fruits -- persimmons, a pomegranate, figs -- and fennel salami and pink pearl apples and homemade bread in the freezer and jam and frozen cookie dough and leftover brownies...

Thursday, September 03, 2009

after two hours in dolores park, drinking wine

I feel like angel hair pasta with olive oil and parmesan.

Monday, August 24, 2009

ice cream

by the container.

that's what people do, right? cure-all?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

dinner conversation

Last night Steve & I made dinner for our dinner party with Helene. We were in the kitchen for hours. We made: ceviche with avocados and tortillas, spicy-cilantro chickpeas with patty pan squash, agua fresca out of a cantaloupe, and, for dessert, a tart that Steve said would give me Iron Chef cred. Almond essence in the tart dough, a blueberry compote with vanilla bean & spices, a layer of frangipane, topped with fruit.

This afternoon I sat in the park with Jill drinking tea. Then we made a Korean inspired dinner. And talked.

Concluded -- There are some things that lose all their appeal when you have to ask for them.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

today's food

I made:

- plain rolls and rosemary-olive rolls

- potato salad

- rhubarb cobbler, and two smaller blackberry cobblers

in preparation for the picnic tomorrow!

not pregnant, just tipsy

After a night of:

- making pizza from scratch (both dough and marinara sauce!)

- vanilla gelato with rhubarb compote

- drinks with helene and ben's friends

- dancing

I ate:

- leftover pizza

- homemade pickles and pickled carrots

- peanut m&m's

(in that order)

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


The last few weeks have been an adventure. From befuddled revisions that seemed to be going nowhere, to feeling tres-productive teaching middle schoolers through Stanford's summer gifted youth program. I felt teacherly. I liked having an audience. I got good student evaluations. It made me feel better about the fact that my own research and writing needs plenty of work.

The social life wasn't so bad, either. Urban adventures with friends and roommates. Symphony in the park. Walk on the beach. Trivia night with a new team. Nice dinners with Steve and Helene (in Berkeley) and with Vincent and Helene (celebrating ends of projects). Spending time with Vincent, our roommate, before he went back to Paris. Wondering how 410 Steiner will change, as these past 6 months have been an amazing experience for me in group living. And last night was our last "family dinner" together, which was, as usual, great fun.

Hoping that the next adventures will be as lovely --

Monday, July 13, 2009


This past week I've been cat-sitting for Emilie and Randy in Mountain View. Have been enjoying the cats and the swimming pool. And being able to walk to the Milk Pail and Target.

Before I leave the cats (Bob and Samantha), I felt the need to document my observations.

Things that bother Bob, the twenty-five pound, orange, extra-toed house bobcat:

1. Samantha
2. Seeing Samantha
3. Not being able to see Samantha
4. Getting caught attacking Samantha
5. When I sleep past 7 am. This manifests itself in many ways. List follows this list.

How Bob manifests his desire that I get my ass out of bed:
1. Meowing. At me. At Samantha, who always sits quietly by my head. Another popular target is the ceiling.

2. Pawing the mirror on the closet (this requires balancing on back paws, “running” motions with front paws against glass).

3. Nudging shiny objects on the bedside table until they fall off, making a loud noise when they hit the floor. In lieu of shiny objects, Bob will settle for coasters, papers... but his favorite is definitely phones, glasses, watches.

4. Jumping, leap frog like, over my body.

5. Head-butting my face.

Month and a half review time

To catch up:

School is out! This doesn't mean much for me. I've been revising my chapter draft, and when that gets me down and unproductive, as it often does, I do something else. Recently I've started redirecting this energy into research for the next chapter. And a new blog idea. We'll see if it develops.

One very fun thing to report: Meredith's wedding, Coker Butte, and the road trip! Someday I'll have pictures up on facebook.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

singapore, part 4

10th day, Weds: Another long teaching day. Followed, though, by an outing with Marissa, her TA Wafa, and Wafa's boyfriend Ian. Went out for some amazing Indian food in Little India (duh). Awesome masala chicken. MOST AMAZING biryani I have EVER EATEN. Sandalwood. Then we had a taste experience that wasn't so much amazing as disturbing: durian fruit. A fruit stand with outdoor seating (so you don't have to be in a confined space while eating durian fruit: which might be a sign, you know? if a fruit is so pungent you can't be in a closed space with it?). Marissa thought the inside of the fruit looked like bodily organs. Like a patient anesthetized on the table. Once you start eating it you kind of get used to the mushy pungent nature of the beast... but then once you stop, you really don't want to pick it up again.

11th day, Thurs: More workshopping in class. Long day. Followed by our first Indonesian food, which also came in the form of a food court in a mall. This time a "younger" feeling mall -- apparently where all the kids hang out. Then, like teenagers, Marissa and I went shopping. Specifically, dress shopping. I also found earrings. And it was good. What also made it good, was a vodka lime at the Dubliner bar we found.

12th day: Our last day off... morning we had kaya toast, then went on what we described as a job interview for a position we never applied for, and didn't know we'd even want. At the Singapore American School. A little marketing on our morning off. Then: a bizarre trip to Malaysia. Through customs, not only did we get our temperature taken remotely (like what cops use, those speeding detector guns?)... we also had it taken through our ears, as, because we had American passports, we raised swine flu flags. Even though we hadn't been in the US in the past 7 days (incubation window). Fucking ridiculous. My blood sugar was too low at this point to deal. Marissa witnessed my hissy-fit-like response. And then I ate a donut. And it was good.

So Johor is a weird border town. We saw a cool building that serves as the train station. Walked through the red light district with our guide, Ian. Sipped cold beverages after getting overheated. Visited a shopping mall (hey, it's ALWAYS THE THING TO DO). Walked the industrial beach. Had a hell of a trip back. Long lines at the border: another hissy fit. I believe my exact words to Marissa were: "I can't do this." Especially when our line suddenly dissolved and we had to get in a NEW line to have our passports scrutinized. Marissa assured me that not only could I do it, I would HAVE to do it. So we shared my ipod and listened to some Mgmt for inspiration. Ate some fig bread as clearly part of the problem = low blood sugar (isn't that always part of the problem, if not THE problem?).

Then, utilitarian dinner, Vietnamese (spring rolls! green mango salad!) on our street, to go.

Last teaching day! It was good, overall... some last minute revisions, some staging of short stories, some balderdash, a little collaborative writing (or that was the goal, at least). Altho., the last hour or so, was chaos: as I graded journals and the kids worked through their exhaustion and sugar highs. But they are terribly endearing.

Final night! Marissa and I went with Mr & Mrs Lim to the Republic Plaza for a RIDICULOUS view in a CRAZY opulent building. Followed by dinner at the Cricket Club. And grocery-souvenir shopping to spend the last of my Singapore currency.

The trip out was looong. Luckily got kaya toast with Marissa once more. Had a 3.5 hour flight to Hong Kong. Two hour wait. Got on the plane, after two hours of "mechanical problems" with the fuel gauge, we had to get off the plane. Never good when your pilot is like, well, they're going to check it out once more, but hopefully we'll get a new plane. Then two hours, during which I ate a gross sandwich, but used the rest of my mechanical-failure-provided free meal money to buy some decent chocolate cake (the cake itself = dry. but the FROSTING...). So, after a grand total of 6 hours in Hong Kong's airport, I finally got on my 12 hour flight to SF. Watched Happy Go Lucky (good, Mike Leigh doing comedy). Watched Slumdog Millionaire (fun). FINALLY HOME!

Luckily Steve met me at the airport. Because I had five minutes of a baffled interaction with the BART machine... and it took someone else's intervention to put a stop to it. Then dropped off bags, took a quick shower... went out for beer at the Monk's Kettle, and an amazing dinner (sole! and morel mushrooms!) at Range. And some sort of mixed drink. And rhubarb tart, with cardamon ice cream. I love unusual ice creams. And I think the combination of the homeopathic no jet lag meds, the alcohol, and the being thrown back into cold, grey SF, helped get me to sleep at a normal Pacific time.

That is all!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

singapore, part 3

6th day (Sat.): Had kaya toast and kopi (the local coffee with condensed milk) for breakfast, headed back to lesson plan... Had a very quick lunch on the corner at a sandwich place (good bread), had class, and headed out to the botanical gardens afterward. Amazing place. Orchids. We took pictures. And carried around the fruit that C. had given us earlier that day. Because even though we had planned to pack light that day for school, M.'s parents thwarted us by giving us gifts. Forget what we had for dinner: really cheap Chinese food at the food court? I *do* remember laughing hysterically over the fruit gifts, while we planned the weekend. Mangosteens are *weird,* folks.

7th day: Free day! As the Malaysian adventure didn't seem like it was going to work out, we headed up into the Bukit Timah nature preserve -- some of the last original rainforest left in Singapore. I bought sandals on sale. Which was good, because the ones I was wearing, not so good for hiking. Didn't see any monkeys unfortunately, but did see a very shiny metallic looking skink, and a freaking monitor lizard. Size of a small dog, kid you not. Sauntering across the path. We took pictures.

Needed food like crazy after that: Newton Center for greens in oyster sauce and bbqed stingray. Also amazing.

Dinner with M.'s parents, L. & C. Adorable couple. Ordered, again, amazing food (Chinese this time): pork and veggie dumplings, lotus salad, brown fried rice, and my favorite, a beef noodle soup.

Then we headed out for what has been our one and only drink thus far, at the Raffles Hotel -- old colonial fancy pants place. Had something coconut/white chocolatey. Endured music that belonged on a soft rock greatest hits of the 90s station (actually, that's been the soundtrack in all of Singapore thus far). But we endured the music while enjoying the veranda that we had basically to ourselves. We took pictures.

8th day, Monday: Free day again! Headed out to this island, by taking the MRT, a bus, and then a ferry. Rented bikes. Got caught in a monsoon. Crazy shit. Waited under shelters, finally said fuck it, we're going to get wet. Tried the muddy paths, but as it was high tide, didn't go all the way. Instead went a paved route to see across to Malaysia. Rainy like that Ray Bradbury short story. Biked back: caught a ferry, then a taxi, took a very long hot shower.

Then back to the real world -- lesson planning. And dinner. Food courted it (this time, mad cheap vegetarian food, noodles and fried tofu and greens).

9th day, Tuesday: LONG HAUL DAY. First day of being at school for 9 hours. It was draining. Some of the morning activities went really well, I think. Some could use some tweaking. The afternoon was difficult because some of my students are DONE with their stories, and others are just beginning. They're due (in drafts) tomorrow. So we had supposed 'silent sustained writing' time, with me conferencing with those students who are finished. This wasn't entirely successful. Middle schoolers after 8 hours at school, "managing" their time. You can imagine. But the one on one was good, I think. I hope I'm making suggestions without overly steering them.

After another food court dinner (wisma atria again)... noodles and "pick out your toppings" all boiled together in a common brew, snacks (kopi, local candies, asian pear)... I think it's back to lesson planning. adieu...

Friday, May 15, 2009

singapore, part 2

First full day: Hotel breakfast. You can go with local breakfast items (like bee hoon, something noodley with something green like kale; or rice porridge, which is basically watery rice) or with the British inspired side (baked beans, many types of meat, boiled eggs). It started raining around noon -- right when I wanted to go out exploring and find lunch. I wandered around Little India in the pouring rain, found a place with butter naan, soon felt very sick to my stomach, had my food poisoning out, fully recovered. So for dinner, I went with safe -- a food court on Orchard Road called Food Republic. Don't judge: lots of the best food here happens to be in food courts. Promise.

Anyway, managed to stay up till a normal hour! Mildest jet lag EVER. Maybe because I had the luxury of dozing for like 12 hours and still having a mad early start to the new day... and the homeopathic no jet lag meds from Vincent.

Second day: Marissa & I had breakfast in the hotel... lesson planned... went with Ming Yang and his father to the cricket club for lunch (weird: old colonial)...went to the school. First day was ok, I think, although not finessed... Teaching middle school girls is *difficult.* I tend to try for teaching by having them *do* stuff (showing, not telling), and I'm not always sure the message is getting across. Dinner: AMAZING vegetarian Indian food downtown, Bombay Woodlands. Then an "ice" at Food Republic: iced strawberry with passion fruit jelly. Merrie, you'd love it: they cater to people who like jelly things! Imagine, a snow cone meets gummy candy...

Third day: More hotel breakfast. More lesson planning. Lunch with Ming Yang and his father at Food Republic (again!). I had Malaysian food: grilled stingray and some sort of amazing rice and what they call "spinach" (in the grocery store, it's called "slippery spinach"). More teaching. Went to the Esplanade for dinner -- mall, food, and arts center on the river/bay. Amazing local food: Simply Peranakan. We tried the green mango salad... some sort of fish/coconut/spice concoction...more of the slippery spinach in egg and sauce. Wandered around by the water.

Fourth day: Yet MORE hotel breakfast. Lunch at another mall: Takashimaya (the mall) and Toast (the restaurant). Great salads (had the tofu and pumpkin). Highest percentage of westerners. More teaching. Ended up going to the same mall for dinner: seaweed salad and nyonya dumplings (filling inside rice wrapped in leaves -- kind of like a Chinese version of a tamale?). And cake.

Fifth day: And yet more hotel breakfast, because I was busy with not only lesson planning, but also the presentation Meredith is giving for me in Franco's class. Hurried repeat lunch at Sprout again -- this time, wild rice with raisins and granny smith apples and nuts. More teaching -- I went off the grid this time, and I think it went a little better. Started thunderstorming right after we talked about melodramatic presentations of emotion. I'm hoping they got that the second round, the round where we *didn't* give away the emotions of the characters, was the better aesthetic... Dinner tonight was the new favorite: an Egyptian place in Little India. We had a salad (ok), shish kabobs (best lamb I've ever had), and the MOST AMAZING EGGPLANT YOGURT. Followed by wandering around, getting lost in the district's mall... so many people trying to go in every direction down the vegetable aisle of the supermarket... so many aisles of imported chocolates...

Now... exhausted.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

arrived: singapore!


My first trip to Asia -- second trip outside of the U.S. -- is underway. No disasters (ie, lost luggage), just lots of realizing that nothing is intuitive without training. The trays work by different mechanisms on Cathay Pacific's planes, meaning that I fumbled the handle so ineffectively that the woman next to me on the way to Hong Kong had to intervene. They drive on the "wrong" side of the road here (as a former British colony).

Time changes are crazy: my flight left SF at 1:20 am and I was exhausted. Ended up with a window seat as a couple wanted to sit next to one another. Nice. After an hour or so of sleep, we had “dinner.” Then I dozed for about 11 hours of the flight. Then we had “breakfast” (pitch dark still). Then I watched most of the Frost Nixon debate movie. Then we landed in Hong Kong: local time, 6 am. on SUNDAY. Next flight didn’t leave till 9 am. Had plenty of time, even with strange airport employee waving me off in the wrong direction. On that flight, I had a whole row in the middle to myself. And I ate another breakfast. Oh, yeah: if you have a choice of eggs/hash browns/ sausage vs. chicken/noodles on a flight in Asia? GET THE NOODLES. Then we landed in Singapore, local time, noon. Basically, I had a long night and two breakfasts.

Swine flu is freaking people the fuck *out* here: about 2 in 3 people seemed to be wearing face masks (eastern Asians mainly, I didn't see any white folks donning surgical masks). One girl actually had a *hello kitty* surgical mask. And they take your temperature en masse as you enter the passport checking area of the airport (as in, some sort of gun thingy not unlike those used to catch speeders. Strange, right?).

Anyway, the coordinators were right there waiting for me. It is fucking HUMID here. I love the heat, hate the humidity. But whatever, after SF cold for months, it’s kind of nice to have reliable heat. Anyway, we all went to lunch – they seemed worried about my white American palate, so I was told to get American fare or this chicken dish, which I had, along with the various sauces (hot and not). They decided I’m food-adventurous. Finally got settled in the hotel: it’s sweeeet. I’m on the tenth floor, a room with windows and a little nook by the bed.

So the goal for the day was to get on local time. I walked around, kinda disoriented, to the main shopping district, through some parks… Not a lot of white people here. It’s interesting. Then I picked up some food – experimenting with more seaweed… got some cookies I can’t stop eating…a single serve packet of snowpeas (ingenious!). Then I took a swim in the pool, which no one else was in. Then I went down Killiney road for dinner: got green papaya salad from a not-cheap Thai place (don’t want to risk it… luckily they rate the “cleanliness” of restaurants here and post the info). It was SPICY. My mouth was BURNING. Not just the inside, even my LIPS. It was great.

Now one more cookie. And then I think I’m calling it a day. Cuz it’s 8 pm here… but like 5 am in SF.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

the n-judah will be the death of me

I hate the n-judah. And sports. And people who like sports so much, that they go to Giants games and then take the n-judah home.

What I like:
-Interesting guys who hit on me at Safeway. Or rather, the one interesting guy who did that. In the candy aisle.

-The Seventh Generation grocery bag I got with my order, filled with samples. Including a carrots chapstick. I love samples.

-Gardenia scented lotion I ordered on

-Paine's Rights of Man. It made the n-judah ride a lot less painful.

-Paying bills online while sitting in bed with a jar of nutella.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

so nice to have a sober night at home

The title being an allusion to a conversation with Helene last night, as we were sitting on the front porch because it was crazy hot all day, and I was eating dinner (finally).

Because the night before (Monday), I went to a concert with Steve: The Black Kids and Mates of State. Best part, M of S covering Tom Waites's Long Way Home. And when some dudes in a car tried to pick me up. I love that. This after a morning of brunch, two hours of work until I couldn't stand being outside (even in the shade) for the heat, an afternoon on the beach with the roommates.

And the day before that, I took a shopping trip (yay, sandals!), followed by walking in Golden Gate Park, a lovely dinner at Hannah's, wine and a mean game of book lovers' trivial pursuit. And more beer at Amber.

And the day before that, I'd been super good and settled in for some work in the evening, as I didn't do much work in the afternoon, despite coffee shopping with Jill, when the roommates got a car together for Casanova. So beer, wine, people watching. And if I hadn't done that, I should probably have gone to Pedro's rock costume party...

And Friday night I was celebrating Steve being done with orals, followed by a lecture on Napoleon in art, followed by more beer in the mission with Garth and Allen. And a super strange encounter at a convenience store: I wanted to get cash back, but apparently had to spend at least $5, and I didn't want to carry crap around just to get cash... but the guy didn't want me to leave without the tea I had picked out, so he said to come by another time to pay him back, and I asked to shake on it. So someday I've gotta go back to Valencia and 24th. Garth said in response to this story: "It must be nice to be a girl."

And the night before THAT, I barely got any sleep, because I got home at like 10:30 from a CSN discussion, and immediately joined my roommates downstairs for Adam's birthday, which turned into a jam session and sing along. We covered -- some Grease, Message in a Bottle, Wonderwall, Hotel California, What I Got... and three renditions of the birthday song, because his dad was having trouble getting a photo of him in action blowing out the candles.

And Weds. night, after an afternoon at the library, quizzing Steve on 18th c. lit. dates over sausages and beer. Followed by my meeting a random dude on a bike, who was high as a kite, invited me to a party, and asked for a hug. I hugged him -- he was kind of cute, his name was Christian, and I was tipsy.

Tuesday was trivia night at the Castle, so that meant a beer. And I was totally right on Patti Labelle being the original artist for Lady Marmalade. And George Eliot being Mary Ann Evans. And recognizing Roy Orbinson's voice. After a day of the writing center and the library, though.

Monday I don't know what I did... I remember going to the library in the sunset, but other than that...?

Sunday was Dan and Jodie's wedding celebration party: theme, British in the park. It was warm and beautiful and many people I adore were there, it was lovely. And then I got to catch up with Sara L. over a healthy dinner.

Before that... it's hazy. Probably I should update more often. And do more work on my chapter daft.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

while reading paul fussell on class in america...

On the working class and unicorns:
"One feature of prole catalogs is the frequency with which the unicorn, of all things, appears. We find plush unicorns, pewter unicorns, brass unicorns, 'Porcelain Revolving Musical Unicorns' -- every conceivable avatar of unicorn. As one catalog announces, 'Unicorns are all the rage these days.' I've spent six months trying to find out exactly why, and I'm finally stumped." (123)

On personalizing:
"There's hardly anything you get from a catalog that can't be personalized... Or how about a navy blue flameproof hearthrug with your family name in Gothic letters beneath seven spaced gold stars and above a golden eagle, in 'Federal' style? That will certainly straighten out visitors puzzled about whose living room they've wandered into." (125)

On the upper class buying cars:
"Class understatement describes the technique: if your money and freedom and carelessness of censure allow you to buy any kind of car, you provide yourself with the meanest and most common to indicate that you're not taking seriously so easily purchasable and thus vulgar a class totem. You have a Chevy, Ford, Plymouth, or Dodge, and in the least interesting style and color. It may be clean, although slightly dirty is best. But it should be boring. The next best thing is to have a 'good' car, like a Jaguar or BMW, but to be sure it's old and beat-up. You may not have a Rolls, a Cadillac, or a Mercedes. Especially a Mercedes, a car, Joseph Epstein reports in The American Scholar (Winter 1981-2), which the intelligent young in West Germany regard, quite correctly, as 'a sign of high vulgarity, a car of the kind owned by Beverly Hills dentists or African cabinet ministers.' The worst kind of upper-middle-class types own Mercedes..." (84-5)

And an appropriate Vonnegut allusion:
"Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in gift shops."

Thursday, April 02, 2009

have I abandoned this?!

New lows with the updating!

But it's because I've been busy...

The apartment has changed! Holli is gone, Emily is back, and we now have a MATCHING couch set for the living room. Four pieces, $400, split five ways. Very proud of ourselves. Especially after four of us carried a love seat up four blocks (including our hill) at 11 pm last Thursday. Luckily we got Holli's couch out, because she apparently had no (working) plan for moving it to her new place. Another highlight: Helene and I in a community truck, with the "vagina couch" (so called because of its pink leatheriness) deconstructed in the back, with 4-6 fellow housemates piled into the back. As Helene said, last chance to ride the vagina -- it convinced Peter to jump in, with his bowl of cereal.

So we're re-learning how to negotiate our space. It's amazing. We're tidy! I cleaned the bathroom, Vincent mopped the floor, Greg threw out old crap and rearranged the living room, Vincent and Emily cleaned out under the kitchen sink... We hang out in the common spaces more! Last night we listened to clips of 60's-90's hits to up our trivia knowledge. Tonight Helene and I baked TWO batches of cookies.

Spring break happened! I worked, but also managed to hang out at Dolores Park and the beach with Garth. Went to an art show with Jill and Nirav that involved baroque costumes... including one that I belatedly realized was easter themed: a pink bunny hat, with loads of beaded easter baskets covering the body. Not prints, ACTUAL baskets. Jill and I got hit on by a 40 year old. Ick. Then we went to a club and danced. I danced *dirtily* for two hours. Scandalous. It was fun. Next night: Sushi with Garth, followed by awesome drinks at Alembic. I had the "southern exposure" and "the bee's knees." All for new drinks.

Trivia-ing it up: this week was my second week with Pedro's team. So we didn't do as well this week... but after the trust falls, I'm hoping we improve.

Also: I've been going to campus far, far too often this week.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

lady and the unicorn

From an art show that I wanted to go to tonight... but fresh spring rolls can NOT be rushed:

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

THE BLOW - Hey Boy

AND this

True Affection

Am loving on this.

Sunday, March 01, 2009


After a busy weekend...

Ra Ra Riot concert Friday, with not one, not two, but THREE opening bands (amazing to live walking distance from the venue)

Bachelorette party prep, bridal shower, bach. party Sat night

Science museum in golden gate park today, in high heels, as my overnight bag was left behind the night before in the trunk of a friend's car

... it's nice to sit with the cat sprawled across my legs, a book in my lap, and candle light flickering on the walls.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

recent victories

Over material conditions:

- The bed arrived, and I put it together all by myself. Well, and with the help of some books to prop up the side rails as I fastened them to the head/footboards.

- At some point before Saturday I will have a cushioned reading chair.

- I carried a lamp home in the rain.

- Saved 15$ at Rainbow Grocery with scavenged 20% off coupons. Oh, AND turned in an application for part time work.

- The uber soft sheep rug arrived. Buju the cat luuurves it.

Over new things:

- Presented a revised version of my prospectus at the Stanford-Berkeley colloquium. And took *questions.*

- Valentine's day when not in a relationship: the roommates & I went to the SF pillow fight and to a (new to me) Mexican restaurant.

Monday, February 09, 2009


After a long hiatus...

I'm somewhat settled in the new apartment ( foam mattress arrived! adorable shabby chic dresser/desk in place! $3 yard sale wood chair carried home! hamper from Ross precariously carried home on a WAY crowded bus from downtown SF!). I've had some exploring, lots of reading in cafes, some dinners out (Chaya for vegetarian sushi, Great China in Berkeley, pizza place in the Mission, vegan place back in Palo Alto), some dinners in, and some time with the roommates. As in: last night's impromptu guitar/drums/homemade maraca jam session, this morning's homemade crepes, and tonight's French dinner, thanks to Vincent, who made us a cream pepper sauce, steak, and scalloped potatoes. All I managed was the vegetables. Anyway, today's roommate bonding time has kind of made up for the drudgery of outlining a syllabus and writing a course description AND coming up with sample assignments, all in the hopes of MAYBE getting a summer teaching gig. Jesus Christ.

Also: Buju the cat has decided that my room is her sanctuary when she feels like an insulted diva.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

the story of: san francisco apartment hunting

Shorter version: It's tough, despite the fact that the recession is pushing out the recently unemployed as well as the chronically unemployed hipsters who seem to be supported in part by bougie parents.

I arrived last Wednesday with 6 to 7 places to visit, and kept accumulating more as I emailed every viable post on craigslist.

the places I've been!

Saturday morning: started with a trip downtown to lower nob hill, where I visited a VERY cheap room (under 600$) right by the cable car line. Later I made my way to the mission for coffee shop hopping.

Sunday: - A great, sunny room at Valencia and 21st. Something of a language barrier with one tenant, and didn't talk long enough to the other fellow. I was new at this.

- A nice room in Noe Valley with two Stanford grads (maybe too close to home: I want to get *away* from campus).

- An evening open house right around the corner from my lower haight sublet: great group of roommates, cool cat, remodeled Edwardian...

Monday: - A beautiful place close to Alamo Square Park, on the more expensive side (1000$ with utilities). But two mostly absent roommates, one more in the 30's crazy career track.

- A, uhm, laid back apartment in the upper haight over a pipe shop and an organic grocery. Kind of too in the thick of things there. And I'm easy going, but I'm not THAT easy going. Brother crashing on the couch? Pay rent in cash? Wasn't my scene.

Tuesday: - Saw three studios in the early afternoon. But they were all pushing it financially (1100 for the cheapest, before utilities, and although spacious, the window looked out into only backs of buildings and rickety porches. And it was at like 14th and Mission, and seemed a little sketch for a one hundred pound white girl who likes to walk everywhere. Maybe.)

- A bedroom with a view of Potrero Hill, with a young lawyer.

- A nice room by Alamo Squ. Park, with two pretty artsy girls. Vaguely hipster, of the hair-dyed-black-skinny-jeans variety. I definitely didn't try hard enough to insert myself into conversations, but I felt like they'd decided I wasn't what they wanted.

- An amazing room at Haight and Divisadero. It was an open house with the address posted on craigslist, though, so a bevy of 20-something girls (the ad said "preferably female") was gathered on this porch waiting for the doors to open. We attracted some attention, and male passersby were told it was their job to bring the beer to the Obama block party. It was actually a fun evening -- I made the rounds to talk to all the roommates, talked enough with a fellow searcher to justify a huggy goodbye, and seriously coveted the big, yellow Victorian bedroom. But there must have been at least 30-40 attendees over the course of the time I was there.

And lastly, a Hayes Valley studio. It was across from the projects though, and carpeted, and too expensive. Turned it down.

LUCKILY everything has worked out! The Noe Valley apt. offered me the place and I turned them down. The next day, I heard back from the great Lower Haight household, and felt like I was on some reality tv dating show:

Phone: Hey, this is Greg, on Steiner,
Me: This is Becky, around the corner --
Phone: Do you want to join our house?

It was great -- especially when Greg apologized for his roommates giggling in the background.

So now I need to find a bed! and linens! and towels! and a bench/desk with cushions! What I don't need to do: learn my way around a new neighborhood! I get to stay in the Lower Haight! With fun roommates my own age! And a chill cat!

Thursday, January 01, 2009


"My mouth tastes like I licked a barbecue grill" - Mer on smoking.

"I really think the future of collecting macaroni and cheese boxes lies overseas." - Overheard on late night Food Network

"Make tea not love"

"This is an EX parrot"

"I hope that dog is in our compost and not going over to the neighbors." - Mom on relative evils.