Archive for February, 2010

All over the place

February 22, 2010

I keep forgetting to twitter. I’ve got a wee backlog of tweets, actually. So instead they’re going to become a weird, disjointed blog post.

Today was a rainy, miserable day at Pier 39. I LOVED it! It has been determined that my happiness has an inverse exponential relationship to the happiness of tourists. Soggy, plastic-bag clad tourists getting terrified by the bush man or standing by the piers saying, “But where are all the sea lion?” just absolutely makes my day.

I’m really tired. And a little queasy. Could be the massive potluck, cake, beer, and burritos that were ingested.

Yesterday was an exceptionally stunning day at Albany Bulb. A squirrel the size of a chihuahua sat on a little veranda outside his rock cave home on the hill above the dog path, calmly nibbling at something while surveying the dogs below, completely unafraid.

There was a three-bridge view. Impending rain always makes it so clear and stunning! I was reminded again that while I love Oakland, nothing will ever match the sheer beauty of San Francisco, whether it’s the skyline from a distance or up close and personal.

Someone took 12 polaroid snaps of blackness, and carefully placed them under pebbles on a large boulder. Art? Or just weird?

Boonie’s the most awesome dog ever. But she never will put up with puppies.

I need a few copies of my sister’s book, and I think I’m going to buy them at three different bookstores, just to spread the love and talk it up.

Pro-union local San Franciscan DJs are awesome.

I saw a ray today that totally creeped me out. It soared over the viewing tube I was in, was flesh-colored, and I swear it had weird humanoid lips and stunted legs. It reminded me of Lady Cassandra from Dr. Who.

I also saw a Rai today. He had a little kid attached to him, via a teddy bear backpack/leash combo. Not as creepy as the ray.

This is turning into a weird, rambley, stream of consciousness thing. I think it’s time for bed.

In the darkroom

February 20, 2010

… or, actually, deep inside photoshop.

I know I’m the most amateur of amateur photographers. I don’t spend enough time thinking about the golden ratio and shit to really hone my craft. But I like snapping pics. It’s fun. And I love spending time in the darkroom, though I’ve given up processing my own film and stick to developing pictures.

I’m still stretching my wings with the new digital camera, and I’m surprised how much I LOVE photoshop. I’ve always been a “it’s not true art unless you capture that genuine moment” kinda gal. Plbht. Fake it! ohmygod, it’s so fun what you can do! Check out this morning’s endeavor:

Rehearsal photo

I futzed around for a bit while I was waiting for someone to come pick up my TV, and here’s the finished product:


Yes, I may be a little clone-stamp happy, but jeezus that’s fun. I love making things disappear. Screw the genuine moment. That looks way better, and really, that’s what I was seeing when I took the picture to begin with. The rest just got in the way.

I can now reshape reality to suit my whims. Bwah hah hah.

On the day of my birth

February 18, 2010

I’m actually ridiculously proud that I managed to hide my birthday from Facebook. I wasn’t sure I could do it, with the whole privacy discussion surrounding fb, but I did. So, as planned, I only got a few birthday phone calls from family and close friends, and one dear friend who texted me after her Wii fit reminded her.

I’m not sure why I feel so bleh about birthdays. I’m definitely not worried about aging; not only am I still ridiculously young, my mental age is far, far younger. I’m still in knee-socks in my mind. And sometimes in reality. Like last weekend.

I think a part of it is that this is a low time of the year for me. I’ve decided I have an extremely long-cycle mild manic-depression; some months out of the year I’m on a high, some I’m on a low. I think my cycle has shifted a bit, since I’m pretty high right now, but normally around February it’s like I’m on a month-long sugar crash.

Plus, they’re just not all that exciting. I don’t like getting revved up for birthdays, because they always feel anti-climactic. The day dawns, and… nothing changes. Yaddita yaddita. Surprises are always nice, but I’m not a huge gift person, and if I do get all excited and start looking forward to it, I get disappointed. Not because I don’t have a wonderful birthday, but because I don’t really know what I was looking forward to.

Cake? I never deny myself cake anyway.
New books and clothes? Thanks to thriftstores, see above answer.
Surprises? A surprise lasts a whole second. Maybe three.
Birthday song? Please. I could go a lifetime without hearing that damn thing again. And that awkward grin that you paste on your face while everyone sings except for you? I’d rather have people belt out “Blaze of Glory” and let me take the chorus.

So I am going to have a wonderful day today, with shmancy cocktails at Bourbon and Branch and Moroccan delicacies at Tanjia, but other than that, I’d really prefer to pretend like it’s any other day. Otherwise I’ll get too wound up and let down. But it is a wonderful opportunity to talk my loved ones into buying me drinks and making them come out and party.

I got an iPod Touch. That is too freaking much. Everything else rescinded. My b-day was a lovely day.

Reading what others have written

February 12, 2010

Ugh. “Written” never looks right to me. It’s one of those words that, the more you look at it, it just looks wrong. Written. written. The more you look at it, the more you’re sure that you spelled it wrong, or it’s not even a word at all.

Kinda like Vagina. Vagina. Vagina, vagina, vagina.

Last night, our production of the Vagina Monologues freaking brought down the house. We sold out La Pena. This was the night that I wasn’t even sure anyone was coming too – all my friends are coming to the Sunday show, and ticket sales for this one were outside of our hands. Sold out. Even standing room. 149 people.

I feel so blessed to be a part of this group. I came down with strep the first night of rehearsals, so I had to back off from performing, but I’ve been hanging around, dabbling in publicity, taking pics and jumping in on the group piece. And it’s been amazing.

The producer, Jamie Sharp, pulled women together from every nook of her incredibly varied life. There’s women from her belly-dancing troupe, sea kayakers from ETC, neighbors, old school friends, parents… It’s awesome. Truly awesome. And what I imagine the Vagina Monologues should always feel like.

So y’all have one more chance. Come to the 416 Warehouse on Sunday and see this amazing performance. It’s a benefit, too! You’ll be supporting and providing a scholarship for one underprivileged East Bay girl to attend ETC’s intense 21-day Youth LEAD Young Women’s Course this summer.

It’ll be a fabulous party!

Still in the city that I love

February 6, 2010

Because I’m not all listed out yet…

Highly Underrated because-no-one-knows-they-exist Bits

1. Cable Car Museum. I couldn’t include the cable cars, because they’re ridiculously expensive if you don’t have a muni pass, they’re full of highly annoying jostling people, and the lines at the turnabouts just don’t bear thinking on. But the Museum… well, it’s just the best Museum in the city. And it’s free! And I guess you can ride the cable car to get there, if you really need to. The sound and the smell of the place, combined with the history, never fails to make me grin. Add in the strangely mysterious underground viewing room, and it’s a little slice of heaven. Thanks to shadarko, I am now determined to visit at least once a year in honor of Emperor Norton and his regular cable car inspections.

2. The Columbarium. Cemeteries and the like have always been my favorite tourist locations. In fact, there’s some cities that I barely remember, except for their cemetery. Hidden in a residential neighborhood above Geary (in what used to be Cemetery Central, before all the dead people were evicted a century ago), this is one of the few remaining repositories for human remains in the city, and it hits the perfect balance of beauty, nostalgia, irreverence, and dignity. The care and invention that people put into their niches is stunning. The last time I went, I spent 4 hours just wandering. And that was before I had a tripod. I think I may have to schedule a return trip soon.

3. The Fates. Well, they don’t really have a name, but that’s what I like to call them. At the tip-top of the high-rise at 580 California, there are a dozen shrouded women looking out over the city. Highly realistic, they were formed by an artist draping living models in a special cementy-soaked fabric, or some process something like that. The intent behind them has been debated since they were installed, but they certainly make that rooftop stand out. They’re most perfectly viewed from Chinatown, making for a nice little outing, and they never fail to send a little shock through me when I spot them.

4. West Oakland. It’s a little odd to put an entire, huge neighborhood on my list, but it needs to be there. And I don’t mean the rapidly gentrifying bits, old houses being turned into co-ops, new lofts and condos placed next to bicycle shops and cafes. I like the bits where the Port of Oakland (or PoO, if you prefer acronyms) smacks into the city and photo-ops abound. There’s a cement plant down there that you couldn’t take a bad picture of if you tried. Weird recycling industries, old wooden railroad trestles and abandoned stations, a recording studio with red bricks and ivy in the middle of a street full of import businesses. It’s just lovely.

5. Albany Bulb. And speaking of lovely, my dog park. The bulb sits right next to one of the last racetracks in the Bay Area, and shares it’s tiny stretch of leash-optional beach with the gamblers and fishermen. Even more enticing than the beach is the actual bulb bit, acres of landfill stretching out in a lightbulb shape to a beautiful lagoon at the far tip, that you can just circle if you don’t mind getting your feet a bit damp. There’s a bird sanctuary on one side, but the real beauty is in the public art. People have made amazing ornate driftwood sculptures and intricate paintings on weathered wood. There’s detailed stencils, a spraypainted yellow brick road with political commentary, twisted iron animals and whirligigs, decorated abandoned bikes, and mosaics from trashed mirrors and ceramics. Someday I’m adding my own little shrine here. It’s a great place to wander.

6. Highway 35, Tunitas Creek Road, and the Tafoni. And speaking of wandering… There’s nothing in the world that I love as much as a windy road. Highway 35 comes pretty close to perfect, with it’s intermittent views of the ocean through forests of sequoias. It’s also not terribly crowded, although on a Saturday, you will see a fair amount of people running with or against you. Which is why you ditch it for an even smaller, narrower road. There’s plenty to choose from. And if you’re the type of person that needs an actual location instead of just the road, well, I don’t totally understand you, but check out El Corte de Madera preserve. An easy walk takes you out to a big ol’ sandstone formation that nature has carved into caves and honeycomb patterns. It’s imposing, and surprising, as you run across it fairly suddenly in the middle of a nice stroll through a wooded hillside. It’s also one of those natural formations that your mind won’t accept as natural, like fairy circles. You’re absolutely certain that these patterns are purposeful, and the caves functional, but the by who and why boggle the mind.

7. Beach camping at Bolinas. Bolinas itself is an adorable little town in a perfect stretch of coast, and a live concert at Smileys is a party I don’t want to miss. But the best thing about the place is that they don’t mind if you throw a wee tent up on the beach, or if you just chuck a sleeping bag out there on a lovely night. Waking up first thing in the morning, unzipping the tent, and letting the dogs gleefully hurl themselves out onto the beach is my idea of a perfect vacation spot.

Bits I left out
Sutro Baths.
Historically fabulous, it’s not as great as it was before they renovated the area and made it all history-park-like. They formalized all the spooky out of it. Musee Mecanique. For mostly the same reasons. It used to be in a dark, cramped basement, perched above a seawall. It was so loud you couldn’t hear a horse fall over. It felt like a treasure, your own personal hidden treasure. Now it feels like a museum, with bright white walls, well-designed display signs, and plenty of elbow room. Fabulous, sure, but just not as fun. Sunnyside Conservatory. Once a beautiful, overgrown surprise of a spot, now it is a nicely tended park. (Are we sensing a theme here? If you clean up your shit, you’re not as interesting anymore. Sorry.) Legend says that following some tremendous changes in fortune, it fell into disrepair and became so overgrown that people forgot there was even still a building in there. Until someone’s dog chased a ball into the thickets and revealed… a gigantic Victorian sanitarium. ‘Kay, probably just a legend. But still, cute. The Oakland Mormon Temple. Because it feels tacky to put a church on a list like this. Filbert and Vallejo Street Steps. Because I couldn’t decide which list to put them on. But they’re freaking awesome. The Palace of Fine Arts. Because while my heart may sing and make me want to dance like children of the night while strolling through it, there’s not much else going on there. Children’s Fairyland. Because while I acknowledge the wisdom of the rule, I still hold a grudge for them not allowing me to enter without a kid. Cleveland Cascade. A beautiful spot, but it won’t be truly great until they restore the waterfalls. Defenestration Building. Way fun, but there’s not much exploring you can do. And, if they finally follow through on their threats, it’ll be torn down any day now.

And I should probably stop now. I’ve barely tipped the iceberg of everything I love about the bit that I live in, but I’ve cheered myself up already (searching for a roommate and the high cost of rent has been bringing me down). Now, if I could only ditch the niggling feeling that I’ve slighted something…

Remind me in the comments?

In the city that I love

February 4, 2010

There are a great many things about the Bay Area that I love. I’m not the first blogger to say that, I’m sure. I’m also not the first to make a list. But I don’t care, I’m in a misty, listy mood.

Highly Underrated Touristy Bits
I was faced with that perfect San Francisco view coming in to work today, and once again, I was reminded how much awesome this place holds. When a vista that you’ve seen a million times in person, and on postcards a million more, can still move you, you know you’re in the right place. I’m heartily tired of the phrase, “Oh, I liked that too, when I first came to the city.” Well, f* you, mister too-cool-for-anything hipster. I was born here, and I don’t give a dang, I’m still going to enjoy these.

1. The Golden Gate Bridge
Ah, The Bridge. I tend to forget about it, living on the East Bay side. In fact, my sister and I were referring to “The Bridge” in mixed company the other day, and it took me a moment to realize that our Massachusetts friends were naturally assuming we meant the GG. The trials and tribulations of the Bay Bridge tend to take up the whole “thinking about bridges” part of my brain. That’s not necessarily bad, as it means I can fully appreciate every time I’m visually jolted back to awareness of the superior bridge. As Beth Spotswood so eloquently wrote, the Golden Gate never lets us down. Prettier and more reliable is a hard combo to beat. Plus, I have a big soft spot for anything featured in Vertigo.

2. North Beach
I think my love for this place dates back to when I was six years old, living on an island with only one Christian radio station, and only my parents old vinyl to sate my musical lust. I became addicted to The Kingston Trio’s “Live From the Hungry I” album. Mostly because I was six and there was a song about beheadings. Later, when I realized the Hungry I was still there, I was thrilled. A pilgrimage was planned. Yes, there was some disappointment when I realized that instead of Village-y folksingers and live bongo concerts it now featured… well, boobs, but the disappointment was quickly overcome by afternoons in front of St. Peter & Paul, profiteroles, and the best cappuccinos I’ve ever had in my life (Cafe Puccini, if you were wondering). Puccini quickly became my favorite spot in the city, as I recognized a true neighborhood cafe in a city whose neighborhoods are so often overrun with invaders.

3. Fisherman’s Wharf
I know, this one’s a little bit hard for even me to understand. Mostly I love it for the bush man. And it is nice to ride a bike through there, early on a drizzly weekday morning.

4. Golden Gate Park
O, the infinite variety to be found! Though I rarely venture to the panhandle side of the park where all the annoying drum circles are, it’s somehow comforting to know that it’s there. I personally love the rambley, wild, sandy west side of the park, with nothing but slightly menacing jogging paths and random ponds. And the landmark windmills. But then there’s the spots to practice drunken softball, to listen to amazing free bands, to sniff a rose… I’m sorry, but I’m never going to tire of it. Again, someone referred to “The Park” in a conversation with me the other day. Slightly shocked, I had to gently school her when I realized she was talking about Dolores. No. That shall never be. They can renovate the hell out of it, it ain’t never gonna be The Park.

5. Alcatraz
It’s hard not to love a floating prison with such awesomely shady stories surrounding it. I’ve only gone once in the past 10 years, due to cost and the fact that I forget I love it, and I’m not sure it really deserves the insane amount of memorabilia and t-shirt shops dedicated to it, but it’s a great place. As evidenced here. And it’s tied in closely to number

6. Any Ferry
I feel truly, truly blessed that my home and work right now are in such perfect alignment that the cheapest, greenest, and most reasonable way for me to get to work is by ferry. I get to ride my bike down an easy flat stretch to Jack London, then float gently practically to my work’s doorstep near Pier 41. On the last jump, from the Ferry Building to Pier 41 I am generally the only commuter, so I feel confident placing this in the touristy section. Although if you ask me, there’s no need for the crazy pricy “Explore the Bay!” boats that run you around. Just hop on the commuter one, you get the same views for a fraction of the price. Sometimes you even get to ride the Emperor Norton, a behemoth of a boat that’s crap for bike storage, but makes you feel like you’re in a 60s spy movie, sipping out of a flask while sitting on a cold fiberglass bench, waiting for your contact to whisper the code phrase in your ear. And it’s really the best people watching spot I’ve ever found. As evidenced here.

I was going to do my best to include some East Bay locations, since that’s actually where I was born and still live, but that side ain’t heavy on the iconic tourist spots. So they’ll have to wait until my next post: Highly Underrated because-no-one-knows-about-them Bits.

Blogging with my eyes shut

February 2, 2010

Somewhere between writing today’s title and getting to the text box, I somehow turned my writing white. White on white. So I actually am blogging with my eyes shut. Huh. Self-fulfilling prophecy, anyone?

I logged on and started this post with something bery definite in mind. It wasn’t very interesting or important, but it was something.

It’s totally gone now. Driven out of my head by tiredness and the novelty of not seeing what I’m writing. Ooo, except, when I write a word that doesn’t exist, little red dots show up!

This is far too much fun. Anyway.

Let me just state how much I hate meetings. And people, kinda. No, not really. Just today. Most days there’s a touch of misanthropy in me, but I squash it down. Remind myself of the people I do like, and the bizarre characters that I can appreciate. I love people watching. I just don’t love people. Strange, ain’t it.

Anyway. On days like today, exhausted, preparing for board meetings, collaborating with everyone and her mother, I remember my childhood dream of living in a remote spot on the coast, telecommuting to my multiple clients, as I. .. did something for them, in a writerly fashion.

Oddly enough, as a child I never dreamed about being a published author. I just dreamed about supporting myself with my writing. AEqually hard, yet it’s something I’m doing. And I still find myself running into people far too often.

Heh. I just used italics for a line I can’t even see. Sweet.

And on that note, I think it’s bed time. I’m getting punchy.