04 December 2013

07 November 2013

random acts of carbs

Before you tune out, no, this is not a post about the merits of a no-carb or all-carb (God, Karen!) diet. But, while we’re on the subject, you should probably know that I am staunchly pro-carb. In fact, if you were to set a trap for me, the most effective strategy would be to stock it with strong, black coffee, an impossibly soft blanket, and freshly baked bread. At that point, if I fell for the trap, I wouldn’t even be mad. I would just stay in the trap until I ran out of either coffee or bread.

But that wasn’t what I was planning on talking about. As fun as it was, I have more pressing matters to discuss. I have noticed random acts of carbs all over the city.

The first incident occurred in a park near the Embarcadero. As I was walking through the park (probably in pursuit of a cup of coffee), I noticed a sleeve of unopened saltine crackers resting atop a large boulder, apparently abandoned. I recall thinking that someone must have brought them there to feed the pigeons (with whom I have a blood feud, but now isn’t the time to explain that), saw how repulsive those vile creatures were, and left immediately. In their haste, I hypothesized, that person left those crackers behind. I recall thinking that a homeless person would encounter them eventually and eat them. At the time, the cracker incident was odd, but not so odd that I thought to write down the date.

The second incident occurred a few days later. I wish I could be more exact when sharing this information with you, but as I was yet unaware that this was going to become a thing, I did not record the date. I did, however text and snapchat a few people, but I am too lazy to sift through my electronic records to find the timestamp. I was on the platform of the Embarcadero BART station and noticed a payphone at the base of the escalators. The first thought that crossed my mind was how remarkable it was that payphones still exist, and that this one still had its receiver. Curiosity got the better of me, as it is wont to do, and I walked over to the payphone to satisfy that curiosity. It was then that I found a baguette balanced atop the partition. I didn’t recognize the pattern at the time because the baguette was not packaged, but reflecting upon it, I suppose it would still be considered intact. As I mentioned, I texted and snapchatted a few people about the weird bread, then forgot about it. This incident is kind of an outlier, and I almost didn’t include it in this post. But, as someone dedicated to journalistic integrity, I decided that full disclosure would be the best course of action.

The next incident (the one that classified these seemingly random events as an official series) occurred on Thursday, 15 August 2013. I was house-sitting, again near the Embarcadero, but not close to either the aforementioned park or the water. As I was walking toward the BART station to go to work, I noticed a package of unopened wafer-y cookies sitting atop a fencepost. They were positioned rather precariously, so there was no way that they were there by accident. Someone had taken the time to balance them perfectly. The image of an unopened sleeve of saltine crackers flashed in my mind, and I resolved to keep my eyes out for any more errant carbs.

The fourth incident occurred on Tuesday, 10 September 2013. My sister and I were leaving that same house in search of dinner when we spotted what looked like the aftermath of a mugging on the sidewalk. A torn athletic bag was splayed open, with its contents scattered around its remains—a compact, a novel, some bobby pins, and a lone sock. The scene was grisly, to be sure. But, further down the sidewalk, I noticed something even more harrowing. There, leaning up against a lightpost where the sidewalk met the grass from a pathetic attempt at incorporating nature into the cityscape, was a package of whole wheat bagels, still twist-tied shut. It seemed that, as the size and quality of carbs increased, so too did the intensity of the tableaus in which they starred. There was something larger going on, and I was determined to find it.

I pushed that thought forcibly out of my head while my sister and I walked to buy food, but as we were headed back, I saw a young man inspect the bagels before picking them up and walking away as though nothing had happened. Whether he was feigning innocence because he had just picked up food from the ground or because he was part of a city-wide conspiracy is up for debate, but it only made me all the more suspicious.

You may be wondering why I have chosen today to share my observations with you. Well, as I was exiting the 16th and Mission BART station this morning, I noticed an unopened package of rather nice and hearty sandwich bread perched atop a trashcan that I walk past every day on the way to work. If you don’t hear from me for a while, you’ll know why.

04 November 2013

oops i thought i posted this

Okay, so I had the great idea to post something topical for Halloween, but I suppose I was distracted and, well, didn't. Anyway, here it is. Sorry.

Halloween in San Francisco is tricky because some people just…look like that. That guy wrapped in purple tinfoil? Is he wearing a costume? No idea. The hobo with a hot pink feather boa? Maybe. The girl who looks remarkably like Waldo? Hard to tell, especially in the Mission.

Halloween and I have sort of rocky beginnings. The earliest Halloween I can remember was tumultuous because I wanted to be a ghost (super creative, I know). Not the sheet-with-eye-holes type of ghost, but a more representative one. My mother dressed me in white, as you do, and things were going great. But, when she started painting my face white to emulate a deathly pallor, she became increasingly frustrated because she figured there must be something wrong with the paint. It was only after a few repeated attempts on the same area of my cheek that she realized that the paint was working just fine, but it was my face that was at fault. It already had that deathly pallor I so desired. At this point, I remember crying while everyone laughed at me. I don’t remember what I finally dressed up as (probably a ballerina or something else accessible like that), but that Halloween still haunts me.

Luckily, as I’ve grown up, I’ve started to appreciate Halloween for the opportunity to do two of my favorite things: dress up and be creepy. I’m a huge fan of homemade costumes over store bought ones, but I lack both the creativity and foresight to make it happen. If I actually planned ahead for once, I feel like I could make something amazing, but that type of motivation has yet to strike me.

What usually happens is that I brainstorm characters from popular culture that I could feasibly resemble, take stock of what I have in my closet that could pass with a little imagination, then fill in whatever is missing by making or buying something else. I also trying to make my costumes kind of inconspicuous, in case no one else is dressed up and I need to ditch the campy elements.

One year, I dressed up as Princess Mononoke, which was surprisingly easy. It was for a party, so I figured it was okay to go all out. Navy blue dress with cut up white shirt on top, black bands around my arms, red lipstick as blood, and moccasins. The only thing I was missing was the wolf pelt headdress, but I made do by buying a wolf stuffed animal, cleaving it in twain, removing all the stuffing, and draping it onto my head. It was one of the more disturbing things I’ve done, but the result was cute so it doesn’t matter.

I have also been Samara, the girl from The Ring. I just wore a white dress, black Mary-Jane shoes, copious amounts of eyeliner, and wet my hair. I committed to the costume by waiting in dark doorways and crawling around while contorting myself into unnatural positions. I did not paint my face white because, as we have already established, I did not need to. Apparently my costume was effective, as I made one of my friends cry when I skulked around a dark corner.

Last year, my friends and I did a group costume as hipster Disney characters. We all wore hipster interpretations of their outfits, added hipster glasses, and pinned signs to us to establish our hipster cred. Naturally, I went as Hipster Mulan in a red and purple floral romper (that I bought from a thrift store), a flower hairpin, glasses, a dragon tattoo that went all the way down my arm that my friend drew in Sharpie, and a sign that said “I did androgyny before it was cool.” My other friends were Hipster Tiana (New Orleans was not compatible with my vegan lifestyle.), Hipster Ursula (I have your voice. On vinyl.), Hipster Pocahontas (You just got to America? How cute.) and Hipster Meeko, who didn’t have a sign because she was a raccoon. Obviously.

So, this year, I wasn’t quite sure how to proceed with Halloween. After all, this is my first Halloween in the real world. I decided that the safest way to go was to wear a costume that could pass for real clothes in a pinch, with easily removable elements should I need to look like a normal person. Red and white polka dot dress, sparkly Minnie Mouse ears, and vampire fangs. My costume? Capitalism. Happy Halloween!

22 October 2013

secret squirrel

There’s no nice way to put this, so I’m just going to come right out and say it. I am a paranoid weirdo and I hate myself.

Okay, I don’t hate myself hate myself, but I am severely annoyed with myself and the unnecessary emotional rollercoaster I just forced myself to ride. Or, rather, the long and arduous journey on which I just embarked. The second metaphor is way funnier in the context of what happened, but don’t worry, you’ll be in on the joke that is my life soon enough.

Two days ago, it occurred to me that I had forgotten where I put my passport, and, being who I am, I began to worry. After all, what if there were some sort of emergency that would require me to travel out of the country? Of course, my worry doesn’t need such an extreme reason to manifest. I just wanted to relieve that horrible sinking feeling in my stomach and know that my passport was safe and accessible.

My fear was made ten thousand times worse when I considered all the possible moments during which my passport could have been misplaced. I moved out of my college dorm in May, then moved out of my childhood home later than same month. I also went to Alaska in August, and I could not for the life of me remember if I brought it with me (again, in case of an emergency that would require me to leave the country).

Naturally, I commenced tearing my room apart. I emptied my dresser and closet three times each, just in case it was hidden in the folds of a tshirt or a pair of jeans. I inverted every single purse I own, including all the various pockets and compartments. I did not find my passport in any of these places, but I did find an embarrassing amount of lip balm and candy.

At this point, it was well into the wee hours of the morning and I was starting to see spots, so I decided to lay my fitful head to rest with visions of paperwork and passport fees haunting my dreams.

The next day, I stopped playing around. I went through the boxes of random crap in my room that I hadn’t unpacked yet, including ones from college, on the off chance that it was simply tucked away. Mind you, I didn’t unpack these boxes. I just emptied them, sifted through the contents, then repacked them. I suppose I should have actually put things away, but I was lost in the moment. Anyway, it’s too late now. The panic-driven motivation is gone. The point is, I repeated this process at least four times before getting truly serious and lugging a gigantic box full of the contents of my dorm desk and bookshelf from the garage.

I sorted this box with the sort of meticulous obsession that only comes from full-on fear, going so far as to open each book and examine it leaf by leaf, before moving onto my binders, folders, and whatever other pieces of paper were sandwiched between volumes. As you can probably guess, my passport was not in this box.

During this whole ordeal, I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was somewhere both obvious and convoluted, and that when (not if, not yet) I finally found it, I would be awash with equal parts relief and self-hatred. Turns out, I was not wrong.

As I was on my fifth or sixth cycle of unpacking and repacking boxes, I noticed that the table under which I was keeping them had a track on the underside where the legs folded under. “Huh,” I mused, “that track would be a great place to keep things hidden, like a secret squirrel or something.” I should probably clarify here that I meant that I would be the secret squirrel, and not that I would hide a secret squirrel under my table. Probably.

It was at this point I realized that my bedside table has an identical track on its underside.

I groaned and dearly hoped that it wasn’t so, but when I leaned over from where I was sitting to peer under the table, lo and behold, it was there. I spotted my passport, tucked innocently against the underside of my table. Mocking me in its black leather carrying case. I must have put it there because I was worried that it would get lost if I put it in a place with heavy traffic. And yes, with my passport, there it was. That practically tangible wave of equal parts relief and self-hatred.

After recovering from the litany of curses that exploded from my mouth, directed both at myself and my passport (but mostly at myself), I resigned myself to tidying up the mess I made. But, because of all the effort I expended over the past day, I could not be arsed to care enough to put everything away completely.

My room is still sort of a mess and I am still sort of a mess, but at least I know exactly where that damn passport is. The worst part of this entire matter, however, is that that hiding place is completely within my line of sight when I’m lying in bed.

On the bright side, I found my thesis and my bookshelf has books on it now. It only took twenty-four hours of blood-curdling anxiety to make it happen.

21 October 2013


So, I’m trying to come back from my extended hiatus, especially since my last attempt didn’t go so well. Hi. True to form, I am going to provide meta commentary on the fact that I haven’t been writing here for a while in a quick statement (sorry), then breeze past it and resume my habit of meticulous analysis and unnecessary observations.

As I take a look back at my academic career that I haven’t fully accepted has come to an end (maybe), my mind inevitably drifts to the influences in my life that have shaped the way in which I think.

I’m talking, of course, about female role models.

Like most women of my generation, much of my personality was shaped (and is continuously shaped) by figures in popular culture (that’s not to say that real, concrete women in my life haven’t played a huge role in my development, but this is not the medium to discuss my personal heroines). And, like most women, Audrey Hepburn and Coco Chanel have played instrumentals in the formation of my conduct and style, because who the hell doesn’t want to be classy and fabulous at all times.

But, what I think is under-appreciated about both these women is their emphasis on simplicity. While it would be amazing to be decked out in Holly Golightly-esque outfits every day (p.s. did not fully grasp the implications of her “activities” until I was much older), the image that comes to mind when I think of Audrey Hepburn at her best is when she is practically bare-faced and dressed monochromatically with minimal accessories. And as for Chanel, didn’t she say that if you look in the mirror and the first thing you notice isn’t your face, then you should take that item off? I learned the hard way that over-accessorizing detracts focus from you, which is simply unacceptable.

I was exposed to these women at a young and impressionable age, which I suppose is to be expected, but when I look at some of the other women I consider highly influential in my life, I realize that it might explain a lot. Some are more normal than others, like Hermione Granger who reassured an eleven-year-old throughout her teenage years and beyond that possessing an intellect is not something about which to be ashamed and reminded that same teenager that being a damsel in distress is not the only option when the world is crumbling to pieces around her. Hermione contained within her the power to literally save the world, and that same power exists within each of us.

As I grew older, I formed a similar attachment to Virginia Woolf. Not that her writings are flawless; I sometimes find her focus too narrow and sheltered, and her privileged background makes some of her musings inaccessible. But her emphasis on consciousness and self-examination in a greater cultural context certainly inform how I piece together my own writings. Another area of contention I have with her writing is that she asserts that good writing should be free of bitterness. While bitterness may be a paralytic to some, I find that it is a brilliant place for me to begin writing, and I accomplish quite a bit by examining a subject that makes me bitter and dissecting the possible reasons for my reaction.

Strangely enough, I am also always intellectually inspired by Victoria Beckham. Yes, Posh Spice. I mean, she’s been a constant figure in my awareness since I was a child. I love that she always looks fierce, if a little pissed, and as someone with resting bitchface, I appreciate that she has made looking angular and intense an art form. I am also not ashamed to say that I have read her book multiple times and she is surprisingly wise and delightful. Who says that having a bitchface means that you can’t be funny too?

I was, and still am, quite taken with Anne Boleyn. I think that one of the biggest clues that I wasn’t quite a normal child was that I would spend hours poring over large history texts about King Henry V and his six wives instead of watching TV or paying attention to where I was walking (on a side note, thank you mom for leading me by the elbow through parking lots because my face was too occupied in a book to look for oncoming cars). Anne Boleyn remains my favorite wife because of her sheer ambition to the point where she was kind of scary. She managed to do something thought impossible, or at least highly improbable, and, in a way, blazed the trail for the women that followed her (bloody) path. And whether or not the rumors about her extra finger or nipple are true, I like to think that she completely owned those disfigurements with a fuck-you attitude and did whatever she wanted regardless. I might be projecting, though.

On a similar note, I think I might have watched The Royal Tenenbaums too many times as a child, because there was a period in my life when I sincerely wanted to be Margot Tenenbaum when I grew up. Not only was she a playwright, but she was also a member of the resting bitchface club with a penchant for eyeliner that rivals my own appreciation. But beyond her enviable aesthetics (you get me, Wes Anderson), she manages to create, despite her apparent bitterness. And, deeper still, behind her rather dour exterior is someone capable of love, as long as that love is earned. Her affection is so much more meaningful.

I will also always have a soft spot for Clarice Starling because she was young and inexperienced, but was recognized for her potential. Throughout Silence of the Lambs, she works hard to prove that that recognition was deserved, even if it means coming face to face (and mind to mind) with the pants-shittingly terrifying Hannibal Lecter, where a single mistake could mean life or death. Not that she handled every interaction perfectly, but she learned quickly and impressively well. On a side note, I might be a little jealous that she has captured Hannibal Lecter’s attention, but I’m trying not to read too much into that.

So maybe I haven’t really gained anything from this session of self-examination, but I do know that I so relish every look of confusion and horror I receive whenever I disclose that my favorite film has to be a tie between Roman Holiday and Silence of the Lambs.