Friday, December 31, 2010

stay the execution of 2010

My friends,

It has recently come to our attention that the Year commonly known as 2010 is about to expire. This grieves us mightily since, as you are well aware if you have kept abreast of our efforts, we have been diligently lobbying Time to abolish its artificial and tyrannical construct The Calendar, a monstrous creation which, in addition to relying on arbitrary and senseless groups of numbers (7? 12? Outrageous!) for its foundational structure, unnecessarily and cruelly privileges certain categories (Days and Months) by allowing them to recur with great frequency while simultaneously discriminating in the most blatant and baseless fashion against others. I refer, of course, to Years, which are allowed to appear but once and then fade away, seemingly forever.

We have nothing but scorn for the defense offered by Calendarials: namely that, by virtue of the greater length of its existence, the Year is not suffering unfair treatment. That other categories, including such deeply unpopular representatives as the dreaded Monday, are granted immortal recurrence while Years are banished to the annals of memory is an untenable situation, and one which has no place in a free society.

Sisters and brothers! We ask that you join us in decrying the foul massacre of 2010, a noble Year that, while certainly in possession of many flaws could, we firmly believe, progress and improve – given Time! Lend your voice to the growing chorus and sing out against that heartless despot, The Calendar! Let us abolish this ridiculous notion that we must destroy the Past in order to create the Future, and let us instead float together in harmonious accord in a boundless Present!

As members of the Society for the Abolishment of Chronological Hierarchy, we work towards a more fair and equitable system of Time, with the ultimate goal of liberating humanity and the universe from the cruel shackles of clocks and segmented experience. One Day, we shall all be joyfully emancipated into the pure and unregulated realm of Timelessness.

As always, we welcome your letters and are grateful for your ongoing support.

Yours eternally,
President at-Large, Society for the Abolishment of Chronological Hierarchy (formerly the Anti-Calendarian Association)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

some thoughts from Nabokov

"The magic has endured, and whenever a grammar book comes my way, I instantly turn to the last page to enjoy a forbidden glimpse of the laborious student's future, of that promised land where, at last, words are meant to mean what they mean."

"One's home is always in one's past..."

"...something, in short, that I could appreciate only after the things and beings that I had most loved in the security of my childhood had been turned to ashes or shot through the heart."

                      — Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

pandora, I love you but

hello, purple prose! Seriously? Seriously.

Monday, December 20, 2010

stampede of approval

English muffins from scratch? New housemate Jay is ace.

Monday, December 13, 2010

attention to detail

is always appreciated
 (for comparison, see one of my other former zip codes in the city:)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I'm going

to start a new blog called "Please stop blogging" and all it will do is tell people who really should stop to stop. I'm sure I will get to everyone eventually and this of course includes me. But I'll be the last.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

consumerism satirizes itself for my benefit

This has to be the worst thing that will ever happen. I say this based solely on the information provided below.

You would think Hallmark, of all people (and by people I mean soulless megacoporations, as defined by the U.S. Supreme Court) would know what month Christmas is in. Or do you think they might be attempting to start the consumer frenzy even earlier? What if you could send people "Happy November Christmas" cards in addition to the "Merry Christmas" cards you send them in December? My god, that would probably double their business! Someone give that CEO a raise. And give me his address. I'd like to send him a card.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

finding unreason

There's something pleasing about this:

Sunday, November 21, 2010


from this year's Dia de los Muertos, a decisive day, and also as weird a mix of legitimate ritual and weird, privileged white-person appropriation as you'll find anywhere, I imagine. I observed and purchased food.

This is Esmerelda. She is made of sugar. (All of this, of course, was at the beginning of November. But she's still here. I quite like her.)

Saturday, November 20, 2010


I was chatting with someone today at Mission Pie who told me that she always felt that cooking was a little like alchemy. To take a squash, for example, and turn it into muffins.

There are so many ways to distract one's self from the things one knows one should be doing.
These were tasty – squash, butter, flour, milk, sugar, one egg, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, chopped walnuts on top – but I think next time, I want to go the savory route. I'm thinking out with the sweet stuff, and in with some cheddar and rosemary.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

repetition is the better part of propaganda

My own editorial process makes me laugh:

the root of the problem is not cohabitation

Dear Prudie,
I'm in my early 30s and have been dating the love of my life for three years. We moved in together a year ago. Before we began dating, I explained to my boyfriend that I was looking for marriage and children. I thought he wanted the same things. He says that he still does, but after a year of living together, we are not married and there is no engagement ring in sight. (Believe me, I know.) We have been invited to his cousin's house for Thanksgiving. He has a large family, and I am looking forward to going. However, my parents are the only family I have in town, and they were not invited. For the record, my parents have invited his over for parties, dinner, and holidays. I asked my boyfriend whether, if we were married, my parents would have been invited, and he said yes, which made me wish I hadn't asked. What should I do about all this?
—Not So Thankful

Dear Not,
Your letter is a perfect example of how moving in together can get you further away from your life goals if a clear plan for achieving those goals is not part of the discussion you have before signing the lease. I actually don't understand why, after two years together, you would agree to an open-ended cohabitation. You want marriage and children, and you don't have lots of time to waste, but here you are, snooping in his sock drawer to see if there's a wedding ring hidden there, and waiting for your boyfriend to decide your fate. In the meantime, you're supposed to leave your parents alone on Thanksgiving because his family doesn't consider your family to be part of the family. I suggest you take more control of your life, and start with Thanksgiving. Tell your boyfriend either his family finds two more seats at the table, or you are going to have to decline their invitation and spend Thanksgiving with your parents. You could also tell him that the discouraging way this holiday is playing out is making you realize that after three years together, you two really need to talk turkey.
more available here.

emphasis – need I say it? – mine

Saturday, November 13, 2010

oh. my. god.

There are a lot of things I should be doing besides watching this. A lot. But how to say no to something entitled "Zombie vs. Shark"?

Friday, November 12, 2010

my question

is, does this man look delighted to you?

I've got news for you, honey

tUnE-yArDs! I will easily forgive you the nonsensical capitalization for this.

Monday, October 25, 2010

save the words!

I just realized what I need to be doing with my life. I need to create a preserve. A place for words, for the abused words of the world, where they have meadows to frolic in and shade to lie in and plenty of hills to roam and hide behind, far from the prying eyes of this world, this cruel world that maltreats them so. Kristin and I were discussing our empathy for "random" and "literally," respectively, and that was when I realized what I should do. I need to create the equivalent of the San Diego Wild Animal Park for words. 

Join me. Donate now.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

why not, indeed

My housemate Annabel asked me over dinner, "Why don't we dance everyday?" and I said "I don't know"  to which she replied "We do!"

Thursday, October 21, 2010

cauliflower cake

Who even knew there was such a thing? I love my home. Kristin made this for dinner tonight, and it was scrumptious. And so fluffy! And it held its texture so well, just look!

Am I the luckiest girl on the block? It's arguable.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


I don't have a lot to say to flatter my hometown, but I do enjoy the train ride from San Francisco (really, from Richmond) up to Sacramento, along the bay and through the marshlands. 

The marsh grasses are unreal. I have seen the colors in all seasons. This being fall, there are tall and short grasses in colors ranging from lime and sage green to cranberry, burgundy, and lilac, and matte silver, and lion's mane gold. And pampas grass with creamy, feathery tufts that wave in the breeze. (This is all just before Fairfield, if you're heading northeast.) All set off by pools and slow, winding streams, slate blue. I'm not making this stuff up. Fairfield itself, of course, a terror of a town. Telephone wires and concrete block buildings and housing developments. Gas stations and storage units. But those fields, marshes, somehow unsung.


"Early on the first day of summer, I found myself sitting in the middle of an impossibly green pasture, resting. 'The longest day of the year' is what I would jot down in my notebook in bed late that night, followed by 'literally,' which was then struck out and replaced with 'figuratively.' What can I say? I was tired."

           – Michael Pollan, The Omnivore's Dilemma

I'm always pleased when someone tips their hat to one of my pet hates. Thanks, Michael Pollan.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


"Overcome by these perspectives Murphy fell forward on his face on the grass, beside those biscuits of which it could be said as truly as the stars, that one differed from another, but of which he could not partake in their fullness until he had learnt not to prefer any one to any other."

                – Murphy, Samuel Beckett

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Last night I finished reading Jose Saramago's Seeing, the sequel to Blindness. While I loved the latter,  Seeing left me feeling like I'd been punched in the gut, then kicked in the face. Even so, there's this:
He walked through the garden and stopped for a moment to study the statue of the woman with the empty jar, They left me here, she seemed to be saying, and now all I'm good for is staring into this grubby water, there was a time when the stone I'm made from was white, when a fountain flowed day and night from this jar, they never told me where all the water came from, I was just here to tip up the jar, but now not a drop falls from it, and no one has come to tell me why it stopped.

Monday, September 6, 2010

+2.5lb tomato

From my mom's garden. No joke! 100% heirloom & 100% delicious.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

we five

If you can show me something cuter than this, I'll probably make out with you.

Monday, August 23, 2010


it's warm and there's an almost-full moon and a cloudless sky. It's so gorgeous I want to roll out my sleeping bag and fall asleep there, straight under the sky, even on the concrete of my backyard, the moon in my eye. I won't, though. I'm not all I should be.

Friday, August 20, 2010


"[Headline] Stretching the Business of Yoga
An obvious groaner. Wordplay should bring smiles, not scowls."
 – NYT, "After Deadline"

Agreed! Motion passed. No dissidents.

the present moment

"Who are you? Why do you walk down the street? Where tonight will you sleep, and then, tomorrow? Oh, how it whirls and surges – floats me afresh! I start after them. People drive this way and that. The white light sputter and pours. Plate-glass windows. Carnations; chrysanthemums. Ivy in dark gardens. Milk carts at the door. Wherever I go, mysterious figures, I see you, turning the corner, mothers and sons; you, you, you. I hasten, I follow. This, I fancy, must be the sea. Gray is the landscape; dim as ashes; the water murmurs and moves. If I fall on my knees, if I go through the ritual, the ancient antics, it's you, unknown figures, you I adore; if I open my arms, it's you I embrace, you I draw to me – adorable world!"
             – Virginia Woolf, "An Unwritten Novel"

Monday, August 16, 2010


We have so many tomatoes. It's almost disgusting. Except it's delicious. At times like these, I love California.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

I don't think I even want to know why this is happening

Sponsored links in gmail. Give a girl a break, why don't you.

episodes like this

"What can one make of episodes like this, unforseen, unplanned, out of character? Are they just holes, holes in the heart, into which one steps and falls and then goes on falling?"
– J.M. Coetzee, Elizabeth Costello

Thursday, August 5, 2010

overturning prop 8

I remember when they legalized gay marriage in San Francisco. I remember the joy. I remember having a job interview near City Hall, and arriving early, on I think the 16th of February. Not even the first day of the weddings. And I remember the line still stretched around the block. I remember standing in the rain, and watching the couples emerge, some carrying signs, "Together for 30 years, and finally married." I remember wishing I was a reverend so that I could help. I remember how much I liked the phrase "spouses for life." I remember the brides in matching dresses, the couples in sneakers and jeans, in every color and style of clothing, I remember the laughing, I remember applauding for every single pair of newlyweds walking down the stairs of City Hall, under my umbrella, crying and smiling and standing and watching them and feeling it so much.

And this is not the final victory, but it's a start.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

the most fun a youtube video can have with its clothes on

All credit and extraordinary thanks go to Bryan at A Curious for introducing me (and so many others) to this little bit of wonderfulness.

no dodos

Today, at the Maira Kalman exhibition at the Jewish Contemporary Museum. This wasn't there, but a lot of great things were.

My favorite things, though, were her books. (Of course, says housemate Davis. I'm so g*&d#@$^ predictable.) I intend to acquire some soon. Hopefully the ones about Max. They are whimsical, rhyming, and (need I add) beautifully illustrated.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

moving pictures

I saw three films at the Silent Film Festival last weekend, and I kind of wish I could do that all the time. To sit in the theater while the music responds to the screen. Those old images. The way people moved. The intensity of it all. 

Movies don't usually allow me to empty myself. Somehow, imagining the dialogue as their lips move, hearing only in my head the few sentences that flash by on title cards, transports me in a way that films so rarely do. I suppose it shouldn't be surprising. It's closer to reading than watching a talkie is. And why text has such a direct line to my mind and heart I don't suppose I'll ever know. I primarily experience the world through words, and that's been true for a long, long time now.

look up

Last Saturday, I went on an impromptu trip to Muir Woods with some lovely people.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

and I mean good design

Community organizations and graphic designers collaborating on public service/social justice projects – can I get a hell yes?


is a truly wonderful thing, particularly if you've managed to acquire a Cuisinart ($25 at a yard sale, I kid you not). Below, last night's mint/basil/pistachio pesto. May I say it was tasty?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

stone fruit

I'll admit it: left to my own devices, I would have taken the lazy route. I've have had a few epic failures in the past whenever that have shaken my faith in my ability to bake sweet treats, and so I was planning on just showing up and paying the $5 at Omnivore's stone fruit cooking contest. For such crises of confidence as these, however, the right housemate at the right time is the best if not only remedy. Micah was so jazzed at the thought of this competition that, mere minutes after emerging from his bedroom, he scaled a tree all monkey-like and tossed plums into a bowl below held aloft by yrs truly. 

In a quick hour and a half, he whipped up an Italian pistachio plum cake and plum compote (both vegan). Kristin & I assisted. We cabbed it over to Noe (time was of the essence!) and entered. 

What I love about Omnivore's food contests is that they're community-judged, so you get to eat everything and cast your vote. Which also means that you get to eat everything:

We didn't win, but I'm claiming for us an unofficial third place (they only announced the first and second place winners, so really, who's to gainsay me?).

Saturday, July 10, 2010

dancing with myself

is not something I've ever minded (and if you know me at all, you know that already). I also like to take myself out on a nice date from time to time. And so it was that Friday night found me at the de Young, listening to some opera, drinking wine. There was a circus performance, which involved a contortionist act by two tiny girl-child acrobats, one so young she stuck out her belly, beaming all the while, cheeks like tangerines. Once their act was over, she danced twitchily on the side of the stage, while two dancers performed a ballet duet to a soft-rock/adult contemporary cover of "Don't Stop Believin'." I kid you not. Sometimes things like this really make me want to make art, in the most combative way. Sometimes they make me want to never make art again. Then I bought myself a nice dinner.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

in new york

in Times Square

Didn't I just. Scott Joplin's "Solace," specifically; my favorite for a long time, now.

Monday, July 5, 2010


My time in Cambridge and Boston could be considered an extended exploration of Leopardi's observation that
" fact, most human pleasure consists in some sort of languor" ("...anzi forse la maggior parte dei diletti umani consistono in qualche sorta di languidezza," from "Parini's Discourse on Glory," Operette Morali, Giacomo Leopardi, trans. Giovanni Cecchetti).
Consider that thesis well supported.

I would go to bed with at best a vague idea of what I'd be doing the next day, and wake up and form a very loose sort of plan. This is so far from my usual M.O., especially when on vacation, and I think it did me a world of good. Lounging about, while far from my permanent state, is not to be underrated. Of course, my idea of lounging involves walking all over town, but with nice breaks for coffee, for snacks, for reading in a pleasantly shady spot along the Charles. And eating. Frequently and well. On that, I think, more to come.

museum of fine arts, boston

My art education was always a gradual and ad hoc thing. Untaught in what is strangely called "art appreciation," I was somehow always a classicist (in form, in technique, in metrical scheme – I was writing sonnets regularly by seventh grade) and it wasn't until entering high school that an odd assignment for world history found me studying Picasso. With a hard heart and a harder head, I can admit it; I was convinced his art didn't interest me. But here of course is the wonder of immersion, the complete unseating, shifting, the changing of a heart; and that was the beginning of it all for me, as far as I can tell.

I continued to carry around tiny pockets of art knowledge until later in high school when my involvement in Academic Decathlon (the Olympics of nerd-sports) found me studying art again, with a truly incredible art teacher. The way the competition works is this: each year, the selection committee (whoever they are) choose several pieces of art from a specific U.S. art museum, and the lucky contestants study the pieces, their makers, their eras, techniques used, &tc., &tc. And the first year that I was on the team, the pieces were selected from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

I took a redeye from San Francisco to Boston and arrived on the 15th, beat tired and kind of hazy in my mind. I dropped my bag off at the hotel, took a nap in Boston Common, and headed over to the MFA, a place I'd been hoping to get to for about ten years now.

By now of course, things are somewhat different than they were when I was sixteen. I moved from the Sacramento suburbs to la città dell'Arte, and have had the ridiculous good fortune to spend time in some of the best art museums of Italy, France, Spain, Germany, England, the U.S., and the Netherlands. And yet the MFA was one of the pleasantest art museum experiences I've ever had. I would enter a room, look around at its contents, and then find myself startled to see something so familiar that I'd also never seen before, in person at least. A bit like meeting a pen pal, I imagine.* It was surprisingly soothing, comforting, casual.

My thanks forever to Ms. Jill Pease for her inspiration and infectious enthusiasm.

*when I was a child, I had a pen pal for about four years. His name was Karthik and he lived in India. We have never met.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


I have too much to say. I was asked today, what were the three highlights of your trip? I thought that was a good question. "Tell me about your trip" is so broad, and "what was the best thing" is so narrow. A perfect solution, no, but a nice middle way. Yet without a doubt, the main highlight was seeing my good friends. Deeply affirming. People who've known you a long time remind you who you are. I think a lot about Florence, where I could in ten or fifteen minutes walk to the house of anyone I wanted to see. I missed a lot of my friends in the states, of course, but while I was there, all of my friends there were so conveniently located. Someday I'll found a town. It'll be an invitation-only town, a curated town. Only people I like. If you're reading this, the odds are pretty good that you'll be invited to come live there. (Say yes.)

More details shortly.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

cosi secreti

"Again, had he been in love...himself, I fancy that the tender passion would, with him, have been so vague and feeble a sentiment that he might have gone down to his grave with a dim sense of some uneasy sensation which might be love or indigestion, and with, beyond that, no knowledge whatever of his state."
                     – Lady Audley's Secret, Mary Elizabeth Braddon (published 1861)

Oh, I do love an overwrought Victorian novel every now and then.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

why indeed

Foucault: ...Your question is: why am I so interested in politics? But if I were to answer your question simply, I would say this: why shouldn't I be interested? That is to say, what blindness, what deafness, what density of ideology would have to weigh me down to prevent me from being interested in what is probably the most crucial subject of our existence, that is to say the society in which we live, the economic relations within which it functions, and the system of power which defines the regular forms and the regular permissions and prohibitions of our conduct. The essence of our life consists, after all, of the political functioning of the society in which we find ourselves.
So I can't answer the question of why I should be interested; I could only answer it by asking why shouldn't I be interested? Not to be interested in politics, that's what constitutes a problem. So instead of asking me, you should ask someone who is not interested in politics and then your question would be well-founded, and you would have the right to say "Why, damn it, are you not interested?"
                       –The Chomsky-Foucault Debate on Human Nature

Monday, May 31, 2010


Pull quotes get on my nerve. I don't understand them at all. I do my best to avoid reading them, because I only end up feeling frustrated when I end up encountering the exact same words later in a newspaper or magazine story, with more context. Does anyone enjoy them or find them useful or beautiful? Convince me.

day tripper

I think it's fair to say that mine is an excitable nature. Nonetheless, I have difficulty imagining that anyone would have been unmoved by the truly splendid hike I went on last Friday in Marin.

Gorgeous sunshine for the first time in days, and a winding way along some cliffs. Blissfully alone.

Along the way, I rubbed the rough felty pods of lupin not yet in bloom.

In places the trail was wide and obvious, but when it dipped into the forest it was often overgrown. The air was warm in these areas, and damp, and thick. Then I came out into a narrow stretch where California poppies and dandelions were clearly in competition with one another for Most Cheerful and Exuberant Wildflower. (Also, did you know that dandelions sometimes get strangely foamy?)

When I finally got to Wildcat Beach (nearly six miles from the trail head), it was gorgeous (in that cold, scrabbly, Northern California way), and disappointingly, if unsurprisingly, devoid of wildcats. 

It did, however, offer the persistent hiker a gorgeous waterfall.
The benefits of hiking alone include but are not limited to: walking as quickly as I like, not getting mocked for laughing at things like funny beetles, and singing as soundly as I want (doubles as a good defense against mountain lions). Also, a great way to get some space back in my head.

I ate good snacks whilst hiking, but the beat-tired exhaustion after twelve miles makes me realize I must give serious consideration to my vague plans to hike a good ten or twelve days or so of the PCT. Not that I won't/shouldn't, just a reminder that hiking uses different muscles than my other extracurricular activities.

Monday, May 17, 2010

grief and grieving

The complexity of things surprises me sometimes. It's hard for me to explain why I'm upset. I mostly feel so lucky to have such a wonderful mother, and such sorrow that her mother was never as kind and supportive and loving to her as she is and always has been to me.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

retreat, retreat!

There is a great deal of work to be done. Most of my dreams are about excel spreadsheets. And paper. I escape into Susan Cooper, Lagunitas, Milka

Currently: The Dark is Rising, Wilco Tango Foxtrot, Alpenmilch.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

updates from the garden

It's been a while since I last showed off my garden, and now it's springtime (more or less) in San Francisco. My kale had lost it's mind:

Basically, it's trying to make babies. I keep cutting it back and it keeps growing back. It is rather persistent, licentious kale.

I have some nice new plants, as well. Baby arugula, baby broccoli raab,
some burgundy beans that seem to be quite happy in the world so far, 

a tiny chili plant for whom I have high hopes, 

and of course, tarragon and rosemary. Mmm...

As a decidedly inexpert and wildly inexperienced gardener, I grow these plants with water, sun, and a hell of a lot of optimism. We'll see how we do.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

do you do you do you do you want to dance

"...And: 'If you really want a woman to love you, then you have to dance. And if you don't want to dance, then you're going to have to work extra hard to make a woman love you forever, and you will always run the risk that she will leave you at any second for a man who knows how to tango.' "
                        – "War Dances," Sherman Alexie

Couldn't have said it better myself.


No one deserves to be this lucky. Certainly not me. But isn't it nice (sometimes) that we don't just get what we deserve in life? Things would be pretty harsh otherwise, I think.

I woke up this morning with no plans, and stumbled my way into an invitation to brunch with my downstairs neighbors. I offered to provide something, but ultimately only made coffee. And I got to eat the most gorgeous frittata,


and a beautiful tortilla español, fabulous apple wood smoked salmon from the Alemany farmer's market, sweet potatoes, fresh bread with blackberry/lemon jam from Blue Chair, and to sit and talk (and listen! I was doing some listening!) with a bunch of enthnomusicologists and mathematicians about music and USAmerican foreign policy and the Arabic love of puns.

And then I went back upstairs to find everyone making kimchi. Let it be known: Kristin is an amazing pickler of vegetables. I did very little, besides chop some ginger (and of course, all the photo-documentation). In case I had been feasted enough, we feasted! (Yes, that's right, John made biscuits again!) And then we watched The Philadelphia Story. Does no one agree with me that Katharine Hepburn & Jimmy Stewart should end up together? They have so much chemistry! And she and Carry Grant just don't do it for me. Sigh.
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