Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008
"Adult happiness, he said, comes down to a nitty-gritty, moment-by-moment struggle for mindfulness--the ability to positively reframe the inevitable disappointments of daily life."
--Sam Anderson, paraphrasing the words of David Foster Wallace (1962-2008), in New York Magazine, September 29, 2008, p. 82
I would add to that: Get yourself a dog. R.I.P. DFW.
That Ang Lee. On the one hand, it doesn't seem fair that the man who made Brokeback Mountain should also be able to wring forth from the depths of his directing soul Eat Drink Man Woman and Lust, Caution. On the other hand, it makes perfect sense. The movies all absolutely share Lee's sensibility in their rendering.
The mah jongg scenes were so excellently played out: the wonderful sounds of the washing of the bones, the quick and shifting strategy, the sharp and constant gossip while playing, no mercy, the calm calling out of chinese moves, the triumphant exclaims of "mah jongg" when a player has won, and, perhaps most intriguingly, the undercurrents of people's relationships playing out in subtle ways. These scenes blew Joy Luck Club's scenes out of the water.
Excellent film, by the way, in general. Makes me want to go read Eileen Chang's short story, on which it was based--both of which were highlighted in a VCFA lecture by Xu Xi this past June-July. The storyline kept me on my toes. The timing was pre-Cultural Revolution, specifically during World War II, set in Hong Kong and Shanghai. The plot is shadowed with intrigue, spies, traitors, war, and assasination attempts. An unlikely affair develops between two people who already know not to trust each other, and the shape that that "love" takes is one of all sharp edges and not a single forgiving curve. The casting was very well done, including, notably, well-known Chinese actor Tony Leung Chiu Wai as Mr. Yee, newcomer Wei Tang in her first film role as Wong Chia Chi/ Mak Tai Tai, and Chinese popstar Lee-Hom Wang as Kuang Yu Min, the love interest of Wong Chia Chi prior to her becoming ensnared so deeply in the plot to assassinate Mr. Yee. Joan Chen plays Yee Tai Tai, Mr. Yee's wife. I spent the entire movie trying to figure out why she was so familiar and likeable--finally realizing she was the actress who played the wonderful mother character in Saving Face.
Notably, Lust, Caution is also the first "foreign" film Dave has remotely enjoyed.
Friday, September 26, 2008
I would have to agree. Depending on who you are and the natural inclination of your interests, you may "get" The End of Mr. Y on a different "level," if you will. For example, someone who actually took some math and science classes after the eleventh-grade high school level might have taken away a deeper reading of parts of this book than I did. A string theorist or quantum physicist might also understand parts of the book better than I did. But there is plenty there to entertain the reader, no matter at what "level" he or she reads. This book is quirky and brilliant, it makes you think so hard your head hurts, and it even swears in a charmingly British manner. What more could you ask for?!
I am covetous of Scarlett Thomas's brain. Writers who accomplish a book like this--another that comes to mind is David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas--just blow me away. I mean, do they really know all that stuff, all the time? Do they carry these immense bodies of knowledge around in them already, or do they research as they go along? And if they research as they go along, how do they manage to so intimately acquaint themselves with a body of knowledge such that I am able to believe they may have already known everything there was to know about said subject? Like I said, covetous, covetous, covetous of Thomas's brain. In fact, it made me wish the Troposphere, for all its flaws, was real so I could climb into her head and poke around for a bit.
The last question I leave you with is this: If you read a book about a book that was supposedly cursed and that contained a recipe that would fling you across the time-space continuum, would you read the book? Would you try to concoct the recipe? Would you immediately dismiss the possibility of any of the story being real, even though the book itself is about characters who disregard the possibility and learn its all-too-realness? Or would you feel spooked while reading?
Obama keeps mentioning the middle class; what can McCain say to that?
Obama addresses the camera directly; McCain appears to be addressing the darkened crowd.
McCain talks about cross-party politics, which was Obama's schtick first!! HEY!!!
It makes me soooo nervous to listen to them talk with the clock ticking down two minutes per solo response, then five minutes' shared time to engage directly. I almost wanted a little clock in the bottom right corner of the TV, like a New Years' Eve countdown. I felt nauseated, worrying especially for Obama when he'd get cut off from responding to one of McCain's blatant misstatements of fact.
I love watching Obama watching/thinking through what McCain says. He's so confident up at the podium, actively listening and taking notes, and even laughing to himself at some of the more ridiculous things McCain had to say. He is graceful and gracious.
McCain is a bit more awkward before the camera. As various commentators noted, McCain appears to not like Obama and to be unable to mask this fact. LAME.
My favorite weird line repeated twice by McCain? "I didn't win Miss Congeniality in the U.S. Senate." (When talking about his policies on cutting spending in the Senate.)
I like Obama's outfit better. The black jacket, crisp white shirt, and deep yet vibrant red tie. MMMM, tasty presidentiality. McCain had a black jacket, a light blue shirt, and a red and white striped tie, which created a less striking overall effect. Obama's just better looking too, poor McCain. Is there something with red ties? I thought maybe Obama did it to subconsciously denote that although he is of the "blue" party and stands for "blue collar workers," he can cross party lines and stand for those in "red" states too. But then I realized the backdrop behind them was blue, so maybe red just stood out better and the two candidates were advised to wear red.
McCain seems to want fast fixes in terms of tax policy, giving all citizens more of the temporary kind of boon, in the way of the economic stimulus payments. Which were nice, don't get me wrong. But I'd give up a fast fix (which I believe we used to go to Montreal!) for a larger, longer-lasting, better solution.
It STRESSES ME OUT when they misunderstand each other on purpose. Especially when McCain does it to Obama. McCain is very skilled at getting little digs in--and they are inaccurate!!--and then that Obama is often not given time to fully respond because Jim Lehrer had to move onto the next question.
My GOD they can think on their feet, all those names (and trickier ones than Barack Obama!), figures, statistics, etc. I could so never be President. I can't even keep loved ones' birthdays straight, nevermind wars and invasions and foundings and so forth.
Could you even believe it when McCain called Obama inflexible and compared him to Bush?! WHAT THE~!!! ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME! Obama just laughed and didn't even completely address this comment, because CHRIST what a waste of his time. I mean, what else can you do but laugh to draw a comparison between Bush and Obama? That is the whole point of Obama, that he is dialectically placed in opposition to Bush. Whatevs.
When in closing McCain stated the following--"Jim, when I came home from prsion, I saw veterans being treated badly. And Jim? It made me sad."--I was, like, GRRRRR. SHUT UP. Sometimes presidential rhetoric on BOTH sides makes me impatient because I get it already: Obama is for change, McCain was a POW, and both talk to people, American people, like nurses and teachers and steel mill workers, across the country. But then I realize that that rhetoric is not to win me over; it's to win over those who are less educated about the issues and those who are undecided. So then I say go ahead, rhetoricize away. Obama's rhetoric can so armwrestle McCain's--and win.
Finally, I really enjoy the Obamas' on-stage interaction better. They are warm and real to each other, instead of posed and waving all the time. I want that kind of First Family in our White House, leading our nation. I want that kind of love held up as an example to all.
OBAMA FOR EVER!
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Hot fusion food from 15 East, Bond Street, Geisha, Kai, Matsuri, Nobu, oms/B, Riingo, Sakagura, Sushi Samba 7, wd-50, and Woo Lae Oak.
Life-changing sake from . . . well, Japan. Over 300 sakes to taste, including many you cannot usually obtain in the United States.
Put on your feathers and finery and step on out!
After dropping her off:
Nahe went to play with the other dogs, without a backward glance.
Mayumi went straight to Jacques Torres and bought herself a frozen hot chocolate because *she* was having the separation anxiety.
This literally takes 2 seconds, so please vote. PBS has an online poll posted asking if Sarah Palin is qualified. Apparently the Republicans knew about the poll in advance and are flooding the voting with YES votes. It's only a poll. But it will be reported on PBS, picked up by mainstream media, and might influence undecided voters in swing states.
Please do two things:
(1) Click on link and vote yourself. Here's the link:
(2) Then send this to every single Obama-Biden voter you know, and urge them to vote and pass it on.
The last thing we need is PBS having to say is that our viewers think Sarah Palin is qualified.
(Reposted from e-mail. Thanks to Sidewalk Monkey for the tip.)
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
But this is reallyreally awesome.
I always thought that we (humans) gave dogs toys and treats that were shaped like bones because it appealed to our own aesthetic of cute. But this morning when I gave Nahe a bone-shaped biscuit, she actually "dug" into the pareaus covering our couch and "buried" her bone.
This is DEEPLY AWESOME.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
On Thursday, Nahe met her Fairy Dogmother, Krissa, on one of our weekly writing dates. Krissa is the devil in all white with wings, because she sneakily included her absolutely irresistable dog, Nano, in all of our writing dates, whether at her place or mine, and I inevitably fell in love with him, and then next thing you know we're at the ASPCA filing out our own adoption application. Krissa was such a doll, because I actually thought we would go to the ASPCA "just to look" but had put her down as a reference . . . just in case. Well. The just in case turned into we LOVED this dog whose name was Peanut/Sabriel and so the ASPCA volunteer went off to call our references, and despite the fact that we gave Krissa no heads up, she gave a joyful-screechy stamp of approval and we walked out of there, leash in hand, Nahe attached to the other end. We were thrilled. We were speechless. We were very, very impulsive, and yet we don't regret our rush into this new life at all. Even on the rough days. Krissa adored Nahe, as Nahe believes is her due, and took adorable pictures of her. I wrote not enough words because I couldn't stop looking at the pup, but still, it was lovely. Krissa also walked with Nahe and I and gave me oodles of invaluable dogmommy advice. I look forward to continuing to pick her brain on all things writing and canine.
Friday was a writing date with Wifey. Luckily, Laura too is accustomed to doggyness, having grown up on a ranch with working dogs and lap dogs. Wife came over at noonish and put up with a good 15 minutes of Nahe jumping all over her and compulsively licking. Wife cooked me a lovely meal of goop on rice (which is wayyy more delicious than it sounds), ate and gossiped with me, and then we rolled up our sleeves and ignored each other, turning to writing instead.
Finally, to round out a week of busybusy social plans, Shaun and Rachel came over on Saturday to admire the wee one. We ate Five Guys, drank wine, and cuddled and petted the doggie. Nahe enjoyed jumping up on Shaun and making out with Rachel.
Consider this dog socialized. :)
Monday, September 22, 2008
Also? Please go to hell. I'm asking nicely.
I've had it up to HERE with anonymous Internet assholes. My tolerance is now zero. You have been warned.
Earlier today I was e-mailing with a friend who used to live in the SF bay area with me but who has now moved to Florida with her fiance. We were sort of commiserating on not being in the Bay Area . . . but I realized something.
I'm not really depressed anymore.
I can't put my finger on exactly when that happened. I suspect it was somewhere around the time I stopped trying to pretend I was the same person who left circa December 2005. Sometime around the time when I focused on the things that I had moved back for, the things that now made me happy, and let the rest go. Sometime around the time that I started looking for all the ways New York can be cheap and gave up on looking, dining, and eating like I was a character out of Sex and the City. Sometime around the time that I allowed myself to feel grief over some things that have changed, and then to move forward and celebrate the ways in which things are different. Sometime around the time that I found a balance between keeping old friendships and making new ones.
Sometime, also, without a doubt, around the time that we brought home Miss Nahe. We were utterly unprepared for her, and I admit this freely. Having grown up as rabbit- and bird-owning people, Dave and I were not prepared for the work that is a dog, and especially the work that is a puppy. But you know what? That's life. You don't get a fucking rehearsal. You fly by the seat of your pants and you make some mistakes and some of them really suck, but you move forward because you have no other choice. We have a puppy now, and she requires several long walks a day if we want to avoid an "accident" on our floor, and she snarls at other dogs and earns me dirty looks from passersby, and she whines incessantly (albeit adorably) and nervously pees if we leave her alone in the house, and she is easily unsettled by our own bad energy/moods so we have to focus on the positive around her. She requires a LOT of patience, which I am not exactly known for, and she is stubborn as all hell, which I am exactly known for.
But she gives good love. And she looks adorable when she bounds onto furniture she's not supposed to be on, and when she looks up at us crossly wearing her Gentle Leader which she hates, and when she sprints on those beautiful long legs around the dog park chased by other dogs, and when she is soaking wet in the tub with doggy shampoo on her head. And naps were never as tempting and delicious before I had a wee furball tucked against my body, spooning, flipping, offering up her tummy, and sticking her head (or foot, or butt) in my armpit. Seriously, SO. FREAKIN. CUTE.
And she requires me to be zen and to be patient. She forgives everything, every day, and begins again. She revels in every fallen leaf, every pee puddle, every child and other dog that passes her on the street. She notices every single grate in the neighborhood--because she, like me, has a phobia about stepping on them--but that's kind of amazing, I think, to be so present in a moment that you literally are always watching exactly where you're going. I know I'm not usually that "present."
I fall into my bed every night, completely exhausted. And while she will wake me up in five hours or less, I sleep the sleep of the grateful and the dead. And I wake up. I begin again.
This is what I wrote to my friend:
Thusly: Everything I Needed to Learn about My Own Mental Health, I Learned from My Dog. QED.
I hear you about not "believing" where you live. Doesn't it seem like just five minutes ago that we were all living so wonderfully in the bay area, enjoying halau, cooking together, and each other's company? On the other hand, sometimes that feels like ages ago, and I ache with missing that time. It's difficult. I love New York and always have, but it's different this time around. I had no idea how hard I'd fallen for California ... of course until we moved. Still. The puppy has sort of reframed the situation for us. She needs many walks during the day and visits to the dog park ... it makes us get out of the house, exploring our neighborhood and the ones nearby, on foot. It makes us actually meet our neighbors in Brooklyn Heights and give us something in common to talk about: our dogchildren. Nahe gives good cuddles and takes such joy in simple things like grass, nice strangers, and other puppies . . . which makes us realize the little joys [we've been missing out on in our own everyday]. What I've realized is this: I don't want to live in New York forever, and in fact I don't want to be here in even another five years. BUT Nahe makes me grateful for the time I have, the things about NY I do love, and she makes me discover new things. Like beautiful brick churches, and gorgeous little leafy lanes, and the Brooklyn Bridge promenade by night with all of NYC lit up as a view, and sweet little parks with bistro tables where one can sit and feed one's pup some treats.
Life's pretty good is what I guess I'm saying.
This packet period I finished reading The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel, which compiles Hempel’s four books of short stories: Reasons to Live (1985), At the Gates of the Animal Kingdom (1990), Tumble Home (1998), and The Dog of the Marriage (2005). There were five main points I took away from this reading.
First, Hempel is quite nimble at the threading throughout of tropes, a skill my VCFA advisor, RG, encouraged me to work on in my story, “A Constellation of Bodies.” Hempel accomplishes this in both obvious and novel ways, such as an even stitching through the seventy pages of the novella Tumble Home of the theme of stars and constellations—not only by talking about the actual stars and the sky but also starfish and other things that share the shape or qualities of a star or constellation.
Second, I admired Hempel's nonmelodramatic way of unfolding a dramatic event: horrible things happen in her worlds but she is able to convey sadness or loss without beating the reader over the head about it. For example, in the story “Going,” a boy is immobilized in a hospital bed after a serious car accident who never mentions the trauma per se but more the concrete details of not only this crash but also the night his parents died in a terrible fire. You learn an incredible amount about a character who deals with tragedy in such a nonchalant way.
Third, Hempel is able to keep it short and sweet. She is utterly in control of the depth, scope, and arc of a story. In reading her work, one feels a conscious decision on her part made regarding how much story to tell, rather than an inevitability that this way was the only way the story could be told. Sometimes, even, this means not neatly tying up a story and, instead, leaving it sort of unraveled and loose, a draft of unresolved meaning rather than a polished thing with morals to take away at story’s end. Hempel shows the power of leaving things unsaid, which assisted me when I went back over drafts of my own writing and cut mercilessly at sentimentality and unnecessary detail.
Fourth, Hempel seems to revel in odd bodies of knowledge and employs them in her writing. For example, consider “In the Cemetary Where Al Jolson Is Buried,” wherein a best friend accompanies her friend to death’s door, easing her way by telling her random things “she won’t mind forgetting.” In “The Dog of the Marriage,” Hempel shows off a specific and detailed knowledge of how to train guide dogs to the blind. In both “Tumble Home” and “Offeratory,” Hempel displays a dazzling intimacy with both mental health institutions and the modern art world. It’s random! It’s weird! How does she know all this stuff, or does she research it as she goes along?! Who knows! Who cares! I eat it up like it’s a buffet dinner.
Finally, Hempel is not afraid to experiment with different forms of how to tell a story—that is, how to use a certain form or frame of story to actually tell a different story altogether, as if the main character herself is unstable enough that she isn’t quite sure what to tell. In “Reference #3884758485,” a woman sends a letter in to protest a parking ticket but ends up revealing that she’d been raped earlier in the week. “The Dog of the Marriage” explores the relationships of four different women to their dogs and men. “Tumble Home” is an inappropriately detailed and lengthy letter written by a woman in a mental institution to a famous artist she met but once—but it ends up being this wonderful, albeit unbalanced, way to get to know this woman’s character and leads to an unexpected resolution in the short story “Offeratory” that followed a few years later, wherein the woman, now released from the institution, has entered into a sexual relationship with said artist.
1. What was the best thing that happened during your 26th year?
I met Ms. Raquel R.
2. What do you hope to accomplish in your 27th year?
Take over the world to achieve world peace while dropping 2 dress sizes and winning a marathon. Hmm...ok, maybe I'll leave that first one to Obama and that last one to Paula Radcliffe.
3. What is your favorite thing about yourself?
my loyalty to the people I care about. People say that they're friends with me because of that loyalty and the type of friendship that I offer. But, I think that I'm lucky to have found such amazing people to be my friends, and they inspire me to be that way. That...and I think they stick around because of the cooking. ;)
4. What's the one thing you want most in the world?
I can't say that I really want any particular thing right now, because I think I'm content and happy w/ my life at the moment. But, eventually I'd like to be in a situation where I live near all of the people that I care about the most, meaning the same state. I have no idea when that's going to happen, but I really hope it does.
5. What would be your superhero power, if you could really have one power?
Mind Reading/Melding. I want to be able to read other people's thoughts and send them my thoughts at the same time. I'm always in a situation where I really want to tell someone my thought, but not have other people hear it. Plus, I think sometimes it helps when my friends are in difficult situation and need me to counsel. Who would need to go to couples' therapy, if you had me!
6. What have you learned about yourself or life in 26 years that you would like to impart to our combined readership?
Know the right time to go with the flow, and the right time to take charge and be organized. I'd say I spent a good 10 years being an extremist on each side. But, every situation is going to need a different toolbox and attitude. So, try to choose wisely. In my experience, I think I'm better at taking charge, but I think I'm happier when I'm going with the flow.
Visit 1: We first went yesterday, with trepidation. As soon as she could hear and smell the other dogs, she was rabid-beast barking again, and I had no idea what she would do offleash. In retrospect, though, I'm not really sure what damage I thought she--petite 17-pounder that she is--would be able to wreck on a Golden Lab, Golden Retriever, a Whippet, a Border Collie, and some other unidentifiable but huge dogs. There was also a mellow little Corgi and a mini-Schnauzer. We entered the park and held tight to her leash, wondering what to do. Another woman and her two dogs entered and came over to sniff the captive Nahe. In desperation, I spilled to this woman that our dog was just a puppy, that she'd never been offleash before, but that on-leash she lunged and snarled and barked at other dogs. Did she think it would be safe to let Nahe offleash? The woman was patient and sweet and encouraged me to do so, saying that dogs have a way of self-regulating and that all the dogs here could hold their own and it sounded like ours could too. And so, we unhooked Nahe, and boy did that girl fly. She ran like she was born to run, showing me how the brisk pace at which I walk her is nothing to her and proving to me that we silly humans are likely to never be able to actually tire her out. She is a big, big dog in a tiny little body, and I think she's adjusted just fine offleash. It's the silly house rules and leash rules we have to work on with her, and who can really blame her for not innately knowing such inventions? This is the learning that must be done to coexist with her human pack.
Day 2: I was sick, like die-dead kine, this morning. I don't know if it was something I ate or sheer exhaustion from 5 or less hours of sleep a night since we brought Nahe home, but I was dry heaving from 4:30am--and I am not pregnant, just to get that out of the way. So, around 6am, when he got home from a night shift, poor tired Dave took Nahe for a walk and to the doggie park alone. Day 2 was less exciting because there were less dogs at the park on a Monday than a Sunday. Also, Dave noted, an unneutered bull dog got a crush on Nahe and kept chasing her around trying to mount her about which Nahe was rather nonplussed.
I miss her everyday that we are here in New York. She is the kind of friend you make and then never, ever want to lose. She is an excellent listener and giver of sound advice, she understands that food = comfort and cooks amazing food in times of both condolence and celebration, and she gives the world's best, most sincere, and warmest hugs.
In honor of her 27 years of life, I decided to carry forth this idea of interviewing friends on their birthday.
So, Surfrunner, on the eve of your 27th birthday, my and your readers are dying to know:
1. What was the best thing that happened during your 26th year?
2. What do you hope to accomplish in your 27th year?
3. What is your favorite thing about yourself?
4. What's the one thing you want most in the world?
5. What would be your superhero power, if you could really have one power?
6. What have you learned about yourself or life in 26 years that you would like to impart to our combined readership?
Stay tuned for her answers!
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
Consider my February 12, 2004 self.
Now consider my September 19, 2008 self. Um.
Home together? Well, an apartment, anyway.
Beaches, family . . . not yet.
Community? Check, but boy is it wide flung, from sea to shining sea kind of flung.
A job? Check.
Zen-like settling? Check. (See future post, "Everything I Needed to Learn about My Own Mental Health, I Learned from My Dog.")
Growing up? Hmmm.
A smaller arc ... a shorter story? Yes, and New York to boot.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Drill, Drill, Drill
I am having Sarah Palin nightmares. I dreamt last night that she was a member of a club where they rode snowmobiles and wore the claws of drowned and starved polar bears around their necks. I have a particular thing for Polar Bears. Maybe it's their snowy whiteness or their bigness or the fact that they live in the arctic or that I have never seen one in person or touched one. Maybe it is the fact that they live so comfortably on ice. Whatever it is, I need the polar bears.
I don't like raging at women. I am a Feminist and have spent my life trying to build community, help empower women and stop violence against them. It is hard to write about Sarah Palin. This is why the Sarah Palin choice was all the more insidious and cynical. The people who made this choice count on the goodness and solidarity of Feminists.
But everything Sarah Palin believes in and practices is antithetical to Feminism which for me is part of one story -- connected to saving the earth, ending racism, empowering women, giving young girls options, opening our minds, deepening tolerance, and ending violence and war.
I believe that the McCain/Palin ticket is one of the most dangerous choices of my lifetime, and should this country chose those candidates the fall-out may be so great, the destruction so vast in so many areas that America may never recover. But what is equally disturbing is the impact that duo would have on the rest of the world. Unfortunately, this is not a joke. In my lifetime I have seen the clownish, the inept, the bizarre be elected to the presidency with regularity.
Sarah Palin does not believe in evolution. I take this as a metaphor. In her world and the world of Fundamentalists nothing changes or gets better or evolves. She does not believe in global warming. The melting of the arctic, the storms that are destroying our cities, the pollution and rise of cancers, are all part of God's plan. She is fighting to take the polar bears off the endangered species list. The earth, in Palin's view, is here to be taken and plundered. The wolves and the bears are here to be shot and plundered. The oil is here to be taken and plundered. Iraq is here to be taken and plundered. As she said herself of the Iraqi war, 'It was a task from God.'
Sarah Palin does not believe in abortion. She does not believe women who are raped and incested and ripped open against their will should have a right to determine whether they have their rapist's baby or not.
She obviously does not believe in sex education or birth control. I imagine her daughter was practicing abstinence and we know how many babies that makes.
Sarah Palin does not much believe in thinking. From what I gather she has tried to ban books from the library, has a tendency to dispense with people who think independently. She cannot tolerate an environment of ambiguity and difference. This is a woman who could and might very well bethe next president of the United States. She would govern one of the most diverse populations on the earth.
Sarah believes in guns. She has her own custom Austrian hunting rifle. She has been known to kill 40 caribou at a clip. She has shot hundreds of wolves from the air.
Sarah believes in God. That is of course her right, her private right. But when God and Guns come together in the public sector, when war is declared in God's name, when the rights of women are denied in his name, that is the end of separation of church and state and the undoing of everything America has ever tried to be.
I write to my sisters. I write because I believe we hold this election in our hands. This vote is a vote that will determine the future not just of the U.S., but of the planet. It will determine whether we create policies to save the earth or make it forever uninhabitable for humans. It will determine whether we move towards dialogue and diplomacy in the world or whether we escalate violence through invasion, undermining and attack. It will determine whether we go for oil, strip mining, coal burning or investour money in alternatives that will free us from dependency and destruction. It will determine if money gets spent on education and healthcare or whether we build more and more methods of killing. It will determine whether America is a free open tolerant society or a closed place of fear, fundamentalism and aggression.
If the Polar Bears don't move you to go and do everything in your power to get Obama elected then consider the chant that filled the hall after Palin spoke at the RNC, 'Drill Drill Drill.' I think of teeth when I think of drills. I think of rape. I think of destruction. I think of domination. I think of military exercises that force mindless repetition, emptying the brain of analysis, doubt, ambiguity or dissent. I think of pain.
Do we want a future of drilling? More holes in the ozone, in the floor of the sea, more holes in our thinking, in the trust between nations and peoples, more holes in the fabric of this precious thing we call life?
Eve Ensler, September 5, 2008
(Thanks to Sidewalk Monkey for the tip!)
But, on another note, dear god, please help this dog learn to be civil to other doggies, because otherwise walking her through dogfilled Brooklyn Heights will cause her humans to lose their fucking minds.
Mommy had a little meltdown yesterday after obedience class, which was a total wash. It involved Nahe barking like she was rabid for almost an hour, setting off every other dog in class and making us the pariahs of the group. We actually got quarantined behind a screen so that the rest of the class could proceed while the two trainers switched off on trying to get Nahe to focus while in proximity to other dogs. I swear to you, when we're inside and it's quiet, she's a little lady, cuddling, sitting, laying down, even staying like a champ. But outside with the glorious distractions of nature, other dogs, small children, and people making too much eye contact, and at Obedience class with other doggies all around, Nahe goes all Mr. Hyde on our asses. After class, we got home and she was back on sweetheart behavior, but I was exhausted from less than five hours' sleep and my inability to discipline her on increasingly athletic walks all day, so I couldn't help but start to have me a good cry. When, bless her fuzzy heart, she jumped on my lap to try to lick my tears, I pushed her onto Dave and threw myself headfirst onto the bed. The kind of funny part is that as I continued my good, deep cry on the bed, I realized that sobbing into my pillow had caused me to get fur in my mouth becuase we haven't managed to consistently get her to stay OFF the bed. It's funny now, but last night it made me cry harder. After that, Dave firmly told her to stay in the living room, gingerly stroked my back and comforted me, and quietly ordered the exact right dinner from the Japanese restaurant a few buildings from us. The rest of the night Nahe and I both had hurt feelings and kind of hated each other, and I was grateful anew for having the Best and Most Understanding Husband in the History of the Husbands Ever. Poor Dave, like I said, surrounded by bitches. And emotional ones at that. (P.S. Christ am I going to be a holy terror on wheels when and if I'm ever pregnant . . . and what this experience is teaching me is that parenthood is quite a few more years off for us.)
This morning, though, Nahe and I made up, and she's back to offering up her belly for scratches, being constantly so close to me that she's literally underfoot, and driving me bonkers on outside walks. And Mommy is back to loving her, 275%, despite the latter.
We did, however, make some progress today. Nahe and I had our first visitor to our shared apartment: Mr. Lucas Stoffel. Nahe definitely barked like a hellion when Luke first came through the door, but after bribing her with one piece of turkey they were fast friends and she was rolling all over his dark jeans and black tshirt with kisses, affection, and her long shedding fur. Luckily Luke has a dog, too, and did not seem fazed. He dealt with furbaby's on crackness and my apologetic neurosis about her behavior; he took it all calmly in stride. This is reason trillion and one that I love Luke: he didn't judge and he made me feel less crazy.
Next project? Try to find Nahe some doggy playdates with another dog who can hold his or her own, not be scared of her rabid barking, and teach her some manners so that eventually she can meet her intended, Nano,* and not scare the bejesus out of him.
* This is according to me. I believe in doggy arranged marriage, yes I do, especially when her potential groom is the reason I fell fast in love with having a doggy companion in the first place.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
While we're at it, could there be an interstate between the newly engineered New York, California, and Hawai'i? The latter of which I would also like you to move closer to the new Califonewyork.
Once you have this done, let me know. I have a composer to work with on the new national anthem, and I've got some rad artist friends who could make a flag that could--no offense--blow Old Glory out of the water.
I just read your post "Who you are" and I don't know how to comment on your Tumblr so I decided to just write you a good, old-fashioned blog back (haha).
Names ... dude, you're so right, they have so much power. I know I'm a little more, you know, whatever, gender boring neutral but when you wrote "it’s really weird when you identify one way but, like, legally, or on the books, your past is still there." I totally was like SING IT, BROTHERMAN. When D. and I were prepping to get hitched, I figured what the hell I'm dropping a last name (my father's--Avery) so I might as well drop my legal first name (Clarissa), which as we know I hate. But unfortunately there was all this red tape and bullshit, and I couldn't deal with it at the time. Still can't. I can even admit to myself that there is something about it that feels too permanent, like if I drop all the names but the ones I choose I am divorcing the person my father and mother intended for me to be. As much as I love D. and wanted the Poe, it was sadder than I imagined it would be to lose the Avery. But, then again, there was something about it that felt sharp and clean, tabula rosa and all that.
But it is so strange/fucked up to go through life to my friends, family, and loved ones as Mayumi, and then in every Official or Bureaucratic situation have to remember that my Official Face to the World is this whole other person "Clarissa." You know who I would be legally if I could cut through the red tape bullshit? Mayumi Shimose Poe. Peace out. That's it. But instead I'm technically Clarissa Mayumi Alohilani Kaleilikokalehua Shimose Poe (nee Avery), and legally I'm Clarissa Mayumi Shimose Poe. Both of those? Too many names, dude. The former so long it's almost a sonnet, the latter still so long it's a biological classification of genus and species. Dude. Not okay. Also, let me just say that NAMING is so fascinating. The ways it comes up for most people our age is either naming a pet or a kid, you know, but you in your rebirth into new skin have been given this awesome incredible opportunity to RENAME THE SELF. How badass is that?! VERY! I have to say I am obsessed with naming; it comes up ALL THE FREAKIN' time in my creative writing and I've just sort of noticed it. Just the idea of what parents try to give their children when they name them, and then in turn how much the name affects the persons their children grow up to be. The names parents give children hold their hopes for them. They see their futures in the words and so pick carefully. Funny how sometimes you are exactly what your name says and sometimes you’re nothing of what your parents hoped for you. FAS-CIN-A-TING!!!
And you and I are hardly the only ones fascinated by this concept. I mean, we had a piece that got workshopped at Vermont College on naming and changing names, etc., and lt me tell you it totally resonated with the other 12-ish people in the room.
ANd!!! Let it just be said that I am TOTALLY glad you picked a rad name like Roman. At first I was like whoa, I've never heard of such a name. And now? I read your blog, I look at you, I think about you ... and I am like how could you have ever been anyone else? How could you have ever NOT been Roman, a dude, and one so happy in his skin? I loved Delia, and still do, but you are not her anymore, at all, and it's not a bad thing.
AND!!! You are a rad fucking dude, and I am with you on the whole spectrum of queerness. Those people running around trying to oppress the rights of others to marriage and oofing are often the very ones with a deep repressed need, in my humble opinion (and as proved by a few recent political scandals). I think if the world wasn't so scared of what other people thought, there'd be a whole lot less depression and suicide and both hate crimes based on genderedness and sexuality. And there'd be a lot more gay dudes and ladies. And a lot more happy people. I hear it from you, I hear it from Jen, and I hold it firmly in my own heart that it would be a much more beautiful world if one could love whomever one loved, regardless of labels like gay, straight, boy, girl, man, woman--even trans, bi, etc.
AND!!!!!!! If I haven't told you--or just haven't told you enough--you're my hero. Seriously. You are this incredibly awesome individual who came into my life in such a random, nonnotable way--probably the BEST thing to come out of the "Sex and the City" obsession, circa summer 2002. One day you were this girl who went to SLC that I didn't know very well at all who was munching on wild mushroom quesadillas and sipping martinis at the Blah Blah with me . . . and without me even noticing you became this rad, rad person who I treasure in my life and who I totally look up to for your sharp mind, your big heart, and your incredible way of being a friend--not to mention those homemade card skills. I am so filled with love to see you so happy in your skin ... and I am so grateful to you for sharing your story for the world to see. You are exactly doing your part in fulfilling the sentiment you wrote at the end of your blog post: "i wish feeling things could be enough to make it real. but maybe it is. maybe that’s all we need… how great if what we felt was enough to get by on… if we were to act on what we felt, that would totally destroy all the barriers that have been created by acting against it." You are working towards making a new status quo.
And, finally--(Damn there was a lot of Ands in this e-mail)--I would love to have you come meet the new doggy sometime. I think, though, that she needs a few obedience classes first because right now she barks like a little bitch (haha, dog humor) at everyone who isn't Dave or me. We have Obedience Class No.1 tonight, and we hope to get some tips on how to get her to calm down. :)
HEART YOU, completely,
Monday, September 15, 2008
It's lovely, but let's do hope Nahe settles down a bit eventually. Her history is that she came from a shelter somewhere in the Midwest, part of a large pile of puppies of indeterminate mixed breeds, rescued by the APSCA, because I think the other shelter might have been a kill pound. She got taken home almost right away by a family who kept her an entire year--and let it be said to their credit did effect some awesome training in the areas of housebreaking and "sit" and "lay down" commands--but they "returned" her to the ASPCA because of a change in their housing (they moved somewhere that I guess they couldn't have pets). I don't really understand that, I have to say. I mean, I sympathize with returning an animal if there are some insurmountable problems to keeping him or her, at least in theory I do (although I think whatever shelter the animal came from should have been more careful about placing that animal with a family that cannot handle him or her). But returning an animal companion who has bonded with you because you have to move? Dude. Get a different place that allows you to keep your companion! He or she is not a couch, like oh it doesn't fit in this apartment, let's just put it out on the street corner. Yeah, I'm judgy and unfair. But can you blame me? I'm in the throes of puppylove.
All that said, here are Nahe's top three "issues" that we hope to start working on in obedience class (which begins on Tuesday night):
1. separation anxiety. If one of us leaves the living room and closes the door--to work on her separation anxiety--she "stays" till the door is closed, then begins whining in such an extremely cute manner I practically have to handcuff myself across the room to keep from rescuing her. Then she starts with the attempts to dig through a wood floor to get under the door and follow. Then she somehow sticks her entire nose under the door so she can look beneath it and see if we are still in sight at all, so that finally you can see her nose, her eyes, and her little paws sticking beneath, jammed together in a way Nature never intended, like an early Picasso rendition of Dog. Yesterday I left the house--and her--for the first time since we got her, to go grocery shopping and to work on the anxiety, and I could hear her plaintive cries even as I reached the front door to our building, three floors below. Which cannot be making our neighbors happy. Which is why we try to work on this issue during the daytime hours only.
2. over excitement over "the new." Some new people, but especially new doggies. Other doggies. Any doggies. About a quarter of the time, she's a little lady, politely sniffing butts with excellent decorum. The other three-fourths of the time, she's lunging in her halter at dogs two to four times her size, which is just stupid, or trying to chase other little doggies, who either (a) like being chased or (b) hate it, the latter of which causes their owners to draw their lips in a tight line at our misbehaving wee one. I mutter A LOT of apologies while out on the town. So far, it's been best to walk her on the quieter streets with no doggies and only the occasional stray human.
3. the leash-pulling. My god, for a 17-pound dog, she sure can walk me. With the walking, she's usually pulling me along at quite a pace, sniffing the right side of the sidewalk, then the left, then this human's purse, then that pile of garbage, etc. Then she sees another dog and starts barking like a little hellion. Then she sees pigeons and nearly dislocates my shoulder trying to get at them, which is funny because the pigeons are such New Yorkers that they fly two paces away, without hardly ruffling a feather, like you stupid dog, I am not scared of you. Our new theory is to exhaust her so she is too tired to pull on the leash. We tested the theory last night, putting on jogging clothes and shoes and giving her a good sprint down the Promenade. And it worked, we and she got at least a good six to seven hours before we woke to take her out at 6am. Let it be said: This doggy is showing me hours of the day I haven't seen for years. Like 6am. Duuude. 6am is kind of nice.
Finally, the separation anxiety, for all its worrisome lack of resolution, is awfully cute. If we sit on the couch, she wants to be on it too--and mind you, it's a loveseat, which means even Dave and I sitting on it is a tight fit, but she'll simply squash herself in anywhichway, even if it means sticking her head in my lap, three legs between us, and one leg and a tail in Dave's lap. If we sit at the dinner table, she will lay literally underfoot, despite a perfectly good doggie bed placed strategically close. If we go into the kitchen, she will follow each of us around, which means a sort of circus of making dinner, with lots of tripping, and bumping, and helpless laughing. And, finally, when we go to bed, it means we place her doggy bed RIGHT NEXT to my side of the bed, and she lays down and then stands up on her tippytoes, throwing her arms on my stomach, and nuzzling her head on my boob or in my armpit, then lays down again, then REPEAT. The unhappy development this morning was that she discovered she could actually leap up on the bed. One minute I was comfortably lying next to Dave, the next minute there was a warm ball of fur in my armpit, which budged neither when I gave her the "OFF!" command nor when I followed up with the "GO TO BED" (meaning, hers) command. It doesn't help that I hesitated a full minute, because her cuddles are so nice. And it also doesn't help that the first night she was here I slept beside her on the futon couch because she was already so anxious that Dave had left for work (the 9pm-5am shift) and I didn't want her to bark or pee somewhere I wasn't aware of. That night, she made me spoon her, she slept on her back with a leg straight up in the air like a dead cockaroach, she started on the side of the bed but had somehow pushed me to its edge so she could sleep in the middle, she fit herself against my foot, she tucked herself behind my knee, and she spooned the back of my head. But I'm trying hard to firm my resolve against her on the bed at all, because I think it's important for us to have one space in the house free of doggyhairs, one space that is for the Alphas of the pack, and one space where she is consistently not allowed so that when we--ahem--need a little space for our own "cuddling and et cetera," we have it.
OK, Internet, it's been fun, but it's awfully quiet in the other room and I wonder what she is up to now . . .
OH! P.S. Does anyone know where I can get a large small-dog carrier? I just learned the hard way that the MTA doesn't allow animals on the subway unless they are enclosed in some kind of carrier. Which means I am housebound or reliant on taxis until we find a carrier. HELP!
Saturday, September 13, 2008
And so--after a few months of writing dates with Krissa and Nano, about a year after losing Lapa, our beloved bunny boy, and getting a tattoo in his honor, and several weeks of obsessing over dogs and deeply considering whether we could make a fair commitment to another animal companion--Nahe (a variant of the Hawaiian word nahenahe, meaning soft, sweet, as music or gentle voice; soft, as fine cloth; soft-spoken) has come unto us.
She's about eight months old, a Chihuahua mix with possibly beagle in her (so the ASPCA thinks), and she is probably the sweetest girl, human or canine, who I have ever known. She is a little wary of new people but warms quickly. She needs a little bit of Obedience class help with her manners towards new people, situations, and especially other dogs, but she is a little bit of bark, absolutely no bite, and a whole heap of sugar.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Well. This year? I totally forgot about September 11th.
But My wife, Miss von Holt, didn't forget and I think she has the absolutely right idea.
Instead of berating faceless terrorists, why not honor our known defenders? While not at all supporting the War on Terror, why not support the troops and the various sacrifices (their lives, their families, their mental well-being, etc.) they've made on our behalf? And, let me add, we should absolutely be bringing them home ASAP and we must continue and intensify that support once they arrive stateside, helping them to process the experience of having been warriors and their reintegration into peaceful society as civilians.
Sort of reminds me of a single person, Hawaiian version of Rodrigo and Gabriela doing Diablo Rojo.
(Diablo Rojo might be a bit more challenging. But whatev Ryan still rocks.)
At work? I suck.
At wasting time? I rule!
If you're on Facebook, please go look at the pictures so I don't feel like I totally wasted my time.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Personally, I’m of Camp A. My theory is that if I want to see a film so badly, surely there must be something in it that Dave can take away from the experience. Even though I might not willingly choose to spend my own $10.50+ on a ticket, I more than willingly sit through his action flicks, even the bloody Braveheart-like ones, even the endless line of Chinese martial arts themed ones. I’m on board fully when I’m there, and I expect the same from him.
Let’s just say, though, that in the last few years, he’s been less than thrilled to see The Girl With a Pearl Earring, Match Point, The Other Boleyn Girl, Atonement, and now Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Not to mention—and I do have a heart, even I feel somewhat bad about this one—the Sex and the City movie.
Am I going about it all wrong? Should I really be turning to girlfriends for these flicks? I don’t know. But here’s my reasoning. Dave may hate the films I want to see. He may have zero interest. He may suffer through several sharp elbowings from me as I try to keep him awake the length of the film. But once we leave the theater, we get to discuss why my face looks rapturous and his looks sour. We get to explore what I saw as the strengths of a film and the ways in which he thought the film failed. In essence, the overartsy-type films open a dialogue that action films are unable to. I mean, how much of a conversation can you have about an action film. “Like, duuuuude, I really found that that particular bomb totally exploded. It was, like, so believable, which I know because I live somewhere where bombs explode all the time—NOT.”
Okay, that’s not fair at all. I’m sure you can have a full, fleshy conversation about the merits of how an action-packed story was told, how suspense was maintained so successfully, and whether the main muscled dude was believable as both man and machine, or whether he was too much of one or the other. But we tend not to have those conversations. Usually, we’re both pretty content coming out of an action flick. We are the people having the abbreviated bomb conversation:
May: “Duuude, that bomb–!”
Dave: “Yeahhh! It blew up!”
Personally, I really enjoyed Vicky Cristina Barcelona. It was an interesting story with a simple arc: Two close friends with the same views on many things in life—art, travel, literature, politics, etc.—discover just how different their views on love/passion are one summer in Barcelona. Vicky (played by Rebecca Hall) arrives for a last summer of relaxation and Ph.D. study of Catalan culture before she will marry her NY fiancé; Cristina, on the other hand, is presently unfettered by career, education, or romantic attachments. They both, separately, become involved with a Spanish painter Juan Antonio (played by Javier Bardem) and, to varying degrees, his ex-wife, Maria Elena (played by Penelope Cruz). And, yet, both again depart Barcelona at the summer’s close as they arrived: Vicky now married, Cristina still searching.
Once out of the movie theater, I took one look at Dave’s furrowed brow and said, sighing heavily and dramatically of course, “So. What’s that about?”
“Nothing HAPPENED!!” he said, with considerable vehemence and frustration.
“What do you MEAN nothing happened?! Were you sitting in the same theater as me?! They both fell in love with a crazy Spanish painter and it affected their outlook on their entire lives!”
“But then they went home the same as when they arrived!!”
“Isn’t that more interesting? To have had a life-affecting experience that doesn’t actually change your life?”
We volleyed back and forth a bit more, and to be honest it’s still out for the jury.
But these kinds of issues—what makes a story, what is enough and/or too much of an arc, how do you tell the story, when is telling okay versus when is it the bad kind of telling that is the first rule writers are warned about—are what fascinate me right now, as I try to find my way to my own versions of answers in my own writing.
I thought the casting was brilliant. Each of these actors did a wonderful job with his or her particular role—though I will say that, for me, Penelope Cruz stole the show. I enjoyed the story's simple arc and the interesting and I think very real premise that a similar experience will affect two people in very different ways—and that sometimes, yes, the obvious choice is not the one that a person would make. Despite having awakened a new and wild passion within, Vicky might choose the stability of staying with her husband over the insecurity of a possibly brief love affair with a crazy painter. Despite having found her own artistic direction and a nebulous relationship with two people she’s very much attracted to, Cristina might choose to leave what had become a (somewhat unconventional) comfort zone. Despite having so many things that bring them together, Juan Antonio and Maria Elena may not be able to just be together, productive and loving, without some element of the strange thrown in there for good measure, to make it work.
Take, for another example, the book Evening (it is also a film, but I haven’t yet seen the film). I can’t tell you how pissed I was when Ann lets Harris have sex with her, despite being engaged; then when Harris leaves Ann for his fiancé because she’s pregnant; and then again when Ann lets him leave. I had to read the book in small batches, because I’d mark my place, put the book down, and curse at the stupid, stupid characters. Pull yourselves together, I thought. Get a fucking grip. You love each other, so fucking just be together, will you, because you’re pissing me off.
But that’s not fair, is it? That’s not real life. People make stupid, stupid decisions every day, and literature and film do not get to be better than we are. It’s art that imitates life, isn’t it, not vice versa. Even as the two women return to New York to lives similar to those they were living prior to the summer in Barcelona, “You can feel Allen’s pain over the roads not taken,” as the New York magazine review points out.
The New York Times review opines that “Mr. Allen says about life and disappointment still sounds very Woody, but these days he seems content to speak through his characters, not just for them.” Really? This was the one place for me that the movie stumbled. I never stopped being conscious of the ever-present narration (by Christopher Evan Welsh) and never stopped resenting it. Telling us exactly what was happening and how the characters were feeling certainly kept the pace of the film moving along nicely, but what it felt to me like was a third-person short story plastered up on the big screen. I wanted the narrator to shut up. I guess many more of the plot points would have had to be cleverly threaded somehow into the actual action or dialogue of the film if the narration was dispensed with, but that’s the movie I would have wanted to see. The actors already did such a wonderful job displaying their emotions and inner conflicts on their faces that the narration just seemed lazy … like the director needed the audience to know things but didn’t know how to have them know without just telling them.
The New Yorker review comments:
“Allen uses a narrator (Christopher Evan Welch) to explain who the women are, and, at first, it seems as if the director is just filling in backstory and telling us things we might have noticed ourselves. But this narrator does for Allen what narrators once did for Truffaut—he allows him to skip merely functional exposition and jump from highlight to highlight. Cristina first eyes Juan Antonio in an art gallery. Later, she is sitting with Vicky in a restaurant, and the artist, dining in the same place, comes over and suggests, with virtually no preliminaries, that the three fly to a small city not far from Barcelona for a weekend of sex.”I see the point that a narrator’s exposition allows one to skip over unnecessary and more awkward exposition in dialogue or scene. But I still have a naggy little feeling that, for me at least, the presence of this narrator, in this particular movie, in the particular way Woody Allen deployed him was not entirely successful.
The New Yorker review goes on to conclude: “One is meant to emerge from “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” believing that happiness may be elusive, even impossible, but that life has a richness greater than one’s personal satisfaction. There’s something stronger in the air—a largeness of spirit, as well as abundant physical beauty. The characters may suffer, but the filmmaker exults.”
To me, that sounds like this: ARTSY-ARTSY-BLAH-BLAH-FLUFF-FLUFF.
To me, what Vicky Cristina Barcelona is about is the complex decisions people make every day. How sometimes the obvious choice is not the one you make. How sometimes the things that would have made you happy a few years before (or even earlier in the same summer!) no longer do. How there is no one right choice. How there are choices, plural, and each comes with its own harem of consequences and ways that it affects your person. How your life can go unchanged by many things, but never your person. How the choices you make help you learn who you are. How you never stop doing that, because you’re always changing and always choosing.
Oh, and P.S.? That soundtrack ROCKED.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Here the birds' journey ends, our journey, the journey of words,
and after us there will be a horizon for the new birds.
We are the ones who forge the sky's copper, the sky that will carve roads
after us and make amends with our names above the distant cloud slopes.
Soon we will descend the widow's descent in the memory fields
and raise our tent to the final winds: blow, for the poem to live, and blow
on the poem's road. After us, the plants will grow and grow
over roads only we have walked and our obstinate steps inaugurated.
And we will etch on the final rocks, "Long live life, long live life,"
and fall into ourselves. And after us there'll be a horizon for the new birds.
--Mahmoud Darwish (1941-1008), translated from the Arabic by Fady Joudah, in The New Yorker, August 25, 2008, pp. 61
Friday, September 5, 2008
Per usual, Reno Ribs was transcendent. Man oh man, there's nothing like eatin' ribs for two days straight of meals. There is something about eating with hands, not caring if sauce smears across your face, and tearing flesh off bones that truly connects a person with their primal animal roots.
Now's as great a time as any to--again--thank Laurel and Jeremy for the original invite back in 2006. We had barely rediscovered our friendship at that point, over luscious dinner-drinky-game nights, but I am so glad you took the chance that Dave and I might snore or sleepwalk and welcomed us to join you. Thank you, thank you, thank you for inviting us then, inviting us again, and inviting us again . . . and starting a tradition that I spend half a year anticipating.
Now to the FOOD!
#1 pick: Kinder's
#2 pick: Johnson's
#3 pick: Desperado's
#always pick for pulled pork sandwich: Porky-n-Beans
#always freakin' awesome: the grilled corn fairly bathed in butter and Lawry's
* deliciousness of sauce
* tenderness/ fally-off-the-boneness of meat
We rounded out the weekend with an overnight stay in Tahoe, a trail hike on Mt. Rose, a take-out food and game night, and the Harrah's Black Forest bruncheon.
I completed out my western jaunt with an extra day in the Bay Area, allowing me to lounge about and read all day and then at night enjoy a lovely dinner with Surfrunner and Sidewalk Monkey at Foreign Cinema wherein we indulged in all of the following:
* Two Sexy Beasts, some kind of Pomegranate margarita (Last Temptation), a cucumber gimlet (Vertigo), and an extra dirty Hendricks martini
* Raw Kumamotos, Miyagis, and Blue Pointes
* Baked fromage d' Affinois
* Fresh cockles and chorizo
* Honeymelon with prosciutto, cocoa nibs, and some unidentifiable but delicious cheese
* Northern halibut with white corn, summer squash, chanterelles, roasted figs & fig vinaigrette
* Cinnamon creme brulee, accompanied by a mocha sandwich cookie
It was a wonderful weekend, full of good food and even better friends, and a much needed respite from various stressors. 'Course I now need to lose the 4-5-ish pounds I gained . . . and to get back to work with the writing and editing.
Hope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend!
Two different kinds of eggs benedict on a lazy Sunday morning PLUS a live jazz trio!
First up, my smoked salmon asparagus benedict:
It was okay but not as life changing as the garlicy mashed potatoes on the side. Those were totally yum.
Next up, we have Dave's surf-and-turf benedict, steak on one half of the benedict and lobster on the other:
Dave's pick kind of blew mine out of the water. That tends to happen when you put red meat *and* lobster on the same plate, alongside more of that garlicy mashed potato stuff.
Truth be told, the food wasn't outstanding, but it is rare to find an eggs benedict plus a cocktail plus live jazz for $16. And if you really want to be a drunkard, you can add on another six bucks and get unlimited mimosas/screwdrivers/bloody marys. YUM.