“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”
--- Douglas Adams

Friday, September 20, 2019

Monkey Boxes - All In My Head


Image result for monkey in a box

When I was in the first and second grades, I went to a babysitter in the morning and afternoon.
I would walk to and from school with a group of kids, mostly the same age as myself. There was this kid, the same kid whose spanking I had to listen to in the first grade. He taught us a a more elevated game of "step on a crack, break your mother's back."

He taught us Monkey Boxes.

Along our route to school in the squares of concrete that made up the sidewalk, a good number of them had a "+" sign in the corner. This kid called them Monkey Boxes. Upon coming upon a monkey box, the only way to pass it, was to jump over it. You couldn't walk around it, you had to jump over it. You could, however, if there was a tree root breaking the cement, jump upon the root to get across, but only with one foot, it was only a stepping stone (stepping root?) to aid you in your passage; it was not a spot to linger.  There was no real penalty to not being able to jump the entire box. You tried your best to jump over and every day tried a little harder to get across; to play the game, you just had to try. Once you did get across, however, you were met with cheers, and hearty slaps on the back.

I grew up thinking (nay, knowing) that monkey boxes were a thing, a real thing. They're all over Long Beach and easy to spot once you set your mind to it.  I also grew up thinking that the knowledge of Monkey Boxes was just as universal in childhood experiences as putting black olives on one's fingers at Thanksgiving. As I got older, however, I realized that Monkey Boxes were a small, localized game that only a handful of kids played, and nobody but me remembers it anymore.

I taught my kids about finding Monkey Boxes. They know where all the best ones are in our neighborhood. We've even found a few Monkey Curbs down by the playground. 

Monday, September 16, 2019

48.50? - A True Yet Pointless Story




Some weeks are so unexpectedly busy. Last week I went to Back-to-School night at Pua's school. I always like Back-to-School night. I love sitting in my kids' desks, leaving them a little note in their desk (You rock! I'm proud of you!). I liked listening to the teacher present the curriculum and watch their style and demeanor. It gives me a bit of insight into the person who is spending a good part of their day with my kid. I like Pua's teacher this year. In fact, I've liked all her teachers thus far.  School events I absolutely dread are General Parent Meetings. At my kids' old school they were mandatory. They were long. They were amusingly boring. I usually sat in the back and listened to music.

Anyhow, when Back-to-School night was over, Pua very sweetly convinced me to spend a bit of time at the nearby playground. Half hour later we were driving home. We had hit that point in my head where I decided it was too late, I didn't have time to make dinner; I'd have to buy it.
Teeling Small Batch Irish WhiskeyWe stopped at Lucky on the way home I picked up some fried chicken from the deli counter and a bag of salad. I also took a stroll through the whiskey aisle. I saw that my favorite hooch was on sale, and on close-out. I grabbed a bottle (should have grabbed 2, it was a great price). I had my fried chicken, I had my bag of salad, and I had my deli ham for the kids' sandwiches today (sorry I forgot to mention the ham before).

Checker scans my stuff. Scans the whiskey and it doesn't register.
Checker: It isn't scanning, do you know how much this was?
Me: $28.98
Checker nods and starts pressing buttons. No dice. Checker presses more buttons, shrugs and grunts.
Checker (to himself): $48.50, that sounds about right.
Me: Um, no, it was $28.98
Checker: ugh, OK. $28.50

I bought my fried chicken, bag of salad, whiskey (for $28.50), my deli ham, an oh yeah, a box of store-brand pop-tarts and went home.

We didn't get home until after our regular dinner time, We ate our chicken and salad. I had a glass of whiskey, and I didn't accomplish anything I had planned to do.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

School Lines and Traffic and (Cal) Bears - OH MY

The new school year has finally started for my kids, and with this school year, life changes just a little bit, making it a bit easier in some parts and harder in others; that's life, I guess.

Image result for pink jordache jeansThe first day of school is exciting. As a kid it was exciting because it was full of hope; you were coming into a new year with a new teacher, and maybe a new student or two. And new school clothes; I remember rocking a sweet-ass pair of pink Jordache Jeans on the first day of 7th grade. As an adult I always enjoyed the first day, seeing how the kids have grown over the summer, being able to take a breath because for the next few months the schedule will be mostly predictable.

My little one is a big bad First Grader now. It's so exciting watching her learn, and seeing her talents. She is great at math, wants to join the chess club and loves painting. We're on a squishy toy-crafting kick right now thanks to her favorite you-tuber Moriah Elizabeth.
My first grade teacher was named Mrs. Koontz. I remember she handed out a lot of candy and was married to the school custodian. I remember the first two friends I made in 1st grade; Rita and Michelle. Michelle liked to hold hands and Rita liked to eat chicken noodle soup on hot days. One time in first grade, they made us listen to a kid getting spanked in the hallway as a deterrent from being bad. It was a really awful thing to make a 6 year old listen to. I always felt bad for that kid. I can still hear him sniffling and that awful evil voice of the principal, Mr. Scott asking him if he'd had enough yet.

My middle one just started 6th grade. Where we live, 6th grade is Middle School which is weird to me because although I went to a K-9th school, the public Junior Highs (started in 7th grade). He's at a brand new school this year, learning a whole new routine. I'm excited to report that he picked up the Baritone Horn. Last night he told me his teacher thinks he has the lungs for it.
My 6th grade teacher was Mr. Anderson. Aside from the 1 day I had a male substitute in the 2nd grade, I had never had a male teacher before. I don't know why I was so freaked out about it. He turned out to be a really nice guy. I was mortified when my dad told me he told my teacher that I was apprehensive about having a male teacher. Gawd Dad. All is forgiven, though.

My big one just started her junior year at UC Berkeley. I'm so proud of her, going to such an amazing university. People say "Good Job Mom" when I tell them where she's going, but I have to say, she did this all on her own. Whatever my contribution was, her own driving force was the leader of this endeavor. Although I'm sure she'll encounter plenty of obstacles, as we all do, she will meet them and conquer them with her own grace and style.
Like her, I transferred from a community college to university (SFSU) my junior year. I took a longer route to get my degree, however, and unlike I was, she is motivated to knock out her undergrad swiftly. My favorite professor my junior year (and senior year) was Dr. Heather. He taught political theory and politics in literature. I learned a lot from him. I also enjoyed Dr. Feldman. She and my friend Pasu became friends IRL and addressed each other as Comrade when they took smoke breaks together.

Every school year, every new grade, every new adventure, I think back to my own years and the experiences I had. Times are different now, but a lot of the things I looked forward to (and dreaded) seem to remain constant in modern times.


Friday, May 31, 2019

Tower of Song - Thank You to the Teacher Whose Name I Forgot.



Have you ever had a teacher who influenced your life when you were a kid in such a positive and impactful way that you are facebook friends with them today; y'know, the kind of teacher whose name you use when answering security questions like what's your mother's maiden name, who was your favorite teacher, and what was the name of your first pet? Conversely, have you ever had a teacher who so totally had it in for you and who was a complete and total jerkface to you right to your face; a teacher who smacks you in the face and tells you you are being a smartass when you ask what it was you did to get in trouble because you truly didn't know, but you had to stay inside for recess and pick up trash without even being told what your supposed crime was?

We've all had those. But what about the teacher who taught you something that you'll always remember, but you don't really remember much about that teacher or the class otherwise? This post is for him, whatever his name was.

Image result for leonard cohenI had a political science class of some sort at CCSF. The teacher had hair like Ted Danson (Ted Danson today, Smirnoff / The Good Place Ted Danson, not Ted Danson of yesteryear, Cheers / Made in America Ted Danson.) One day the teacher came into class with the verve of Agent Cooper after having a damn fine cup of coffee saying he'd been up all night listening to Leonard Cohen, and he'd seen the future and it was murder. I had no idea what he meant. I was 21. I still thought ordering a pina colada or Chardonnay was the proper thing to order at a dive bar. I had never heard of Leonard Cohen. I stopped at Tower Records on Market and Castro (I don't think it's there anymore, is that where the Pottery Barn went or am I thinking of something else?) and bought Leonard Cohen's Greatest Hits.

I hated it. But, just as I hated coffee when I was little and enjoy it now, maybe my musical palate wasn't ready for LC yet. Then one day I was watching PBS, maybe 10 years after the future-modern day Ted Danson was my teacher, and a Leonard Cohen concert came on. I watched it and loved it.

I've been listening to a lot of LC lately. I'm enjoying it like Dale Cooper loves Cherry Pie.

Thanks teacher whose name I don't remember or what class you taught.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Candy for Gordon - A Dream

If someone I know is traveling abroad I ask them to bring me back one of two things; their extra coins or candy. 
I have tons of coins. My favorite coins are Yuan from China that have a hole in the middle. I also really love the 20p piece from England. I'm sorely lacking in Francs, Lira, Lats, Kroon, Marks, Escudo and Peseta but have a large amount of Drachma, Guilder, British Pounds and Kwacha and Euros.  I'm not really interested in paper money. I think non-US money is very interesting and colorful, but I'd rather have the kind that jingles, rather than the kind that folds.

For candy, just as I don't want the more valuable paper money, I don't want the fancy candy. If I get fancy candy, I'll most likely appreciate the box more than the candy inside. I want to try the mass market Hershey, Nestle, Cadbury, Mars type candy. I don't want fancy.  I want the kind that kids want to eat, the kind they buy themselves at the corner market. I want Flake Bars, Aero Bars, Violet Crumble, Crunchy Bars, Caramello Koalas, Cherry Ripe.

I had a dream.

I was at Sunset Super, which is a grocery store in my neighborhood that serves the Chinese community.  I was showing Gordon Ramsay around the store, We spent a little bit of time looking at  the giant tank of geoduck clams next to a giant ice bed of whole fish with bright shiny eyes. As we were walking around the store, we happened by the candy aisle. I walked him through every single candy, and made him try everything. He was amused but a bit annoyed at my persistence and insistence that he try everything. Candy wasn't really his thing, but he was a good sport.

Friday, April 5, 2019

On Friendship - The Super and the Superficial


Cliff and Norm were the best of bar buddies. All day long Cliff kept his community connected while Norm crunched their numbers. All day long they looked forward to spending the last few hours of daylight in an underground bar with people who were just as like-minded. They looked forward to watching whatever was playing on the muted TV,  and hoping someone else used their quarters wisely in the jukebox. They look forward to sharing a beer, and maybe a few shots with people who were just as beaten as they were. But were they friends on the outside? I'm not so sure. Sam, Coach and Woody weren't really your friends. Carla may have been sweet on a few of her regulars, but once she clocked out and counted her tips, all she cared about were her kids, and Nick or Eddie; probably both. Diane and Rebecca didn't care about you even when they were working, let alone when they clocked out. Nobody cared what Harry the Hat did to get "two to ten, with time off for good behavior." They were just happy he was there to entertain them and watch him cheat other people out of their money.

There is a bar I go to. There are people I really enjoy seeing. There are a few dogs I whose jowls I love to scratch. There are a few bartenders I really enjoy talking to. There are a few people I get to nerd-out about Star Trek with. There are a few people I get to talk about music with. There are a few people I get to talk about the neighborhood with. There are people I get to watch close-captioned Family Feud and Cash Cab with. The conversation is never very deep, and it is very seldom, if ever, personal. I know very little about the personal lives of my fellow locals and regulars, and I'm OK with that. My fellow regulars do for me what Cliff and Norm did for each other; they helped wash the day away. They are there to share a kind word, a funny story, neighborhood news. We all come from different walks of life, different religions and philosophies; different incomes, different stages in our lives. When we enter the bar, we are all equals. But our friendship doesn't often extend beyond the backside of the 21 and Over sign and into the street. That's not to say that any of these folks can't be my friends outside of the bar, however; a few of them are friends outside of the bar, but it's OK that not all of them need to be.

On the other end of the spectrum, I have an amazing group of close friends. We make up an incredible village. The strength of this village has been tested a few times, and I take great comfort in knowing that we can depend on each other and weather our storms together.   It's made us stronger, both individually as well as a group. We all played a role in helping each other through life's displeasures. I am thankful for my village and proud to be a part of it.

I write all this because I saw a video on the FB that someone posted the other day about friendship. I've been chewing on it because it made me kind of mad and thought, perhaps, that I had missed the point. I don't think I did.  On the surface, it sounded, well, sound, but then it didn't.  The speaker on the video said you will know who your closest friends are by the way they stick by you when you face adversity. While I do believe that is true, the person on the video went on to say that all friends who don't stick closer than a brother need to be cut out of your life, they are toxic. I don't believe that. I don't believe that every one of my friends bears the same responsibility or serves the same purpose.  I don't believe I have the right to discount a friendship because I don't feel comfortable divulging my deepest secrets to them. A friendship is a friendship. Sure, dump those who are dicks, but not everyone is a dick.

From the super close to the superficial, there are many other levels of friendships in between. Work friends, school friends, bar friends, neighborhood friends; they all lend different levels of support, different kinds of comfort. In the Venn diagram of my friendships, there are certainly overlapping categories and similarities. All friends enrich my life, but not every friend needs to know you at your worst. Sometimes the best friendship one can give you is consistency; knowing which friend to call for the comfort you are seeking. Having different types of friends is great. Sometimes all you need is someone to share a beer with and watch bad TV on mute with while rock 'n' roll plays in the background. Sometimes you need someone to help you out with your cell phone bill for the month. Sometimes you need a hug. Sometimes you need someone to hold your hair when you puke. Sometimes you need someone to housesit. Sometimes you need someone who really understands you to help you work through a problem. Sometimes you need someone to discuss the latest episode of The Orville with. Sometimes you need guidance from someone with a shared history. Sometimes you need to use your old best jokes on someone who has never heard them before. Not any one person needs to serve all those needs. It's not fair to your friends to expect them to give you everything you need.

It's just as OK and necessary to have casual friends as it is necessary to have close friends.


Friday, December 21, 2018

The Snoopy Wallet - A true yet pointless story about a Christmas Gift

I was probably about 10 years old. My mom took me to the Hallmark store at what was once Los Altos shopping Center in Long Beach. She stayed outside the store while I went inside and looked around. I found the perfect gift for my mom. It was a yellow Snoopy wallet. I remember overhearing how she needed a new wallet and for some reason I had it in my head that she really loved Peanuts. I ran outside the store very excited about the wallet, told my mom how much her Christmas present would cost. She gave me the money and I went inside and paid for it.


Later when I was at home I showed my sister the wallet. I was so proud of myself for getting my mom such a fantastic gift. How could she love the gift? It was a bright yellow wallet with Snoopy on it. My sister and her friend laughed and told me it was a kid's wallet an my mom would never like it. My excitement suddenly turned went all pear shaped.

On Christmas morning I woke up dreading when my mom would open her present. Sure, I was excited to open presents and such, but I was really concerned my mom wasn't going to like the gift. I hid it under the Christmas Tree skirt, then when there were no more gifts to open save for the boxes of candy my mom would get from her patients and clients at work, that she would never ever open because she knew what was inside, so they just sat there, wrapped, uneaten until after Christmas, I took the wallet, unwrapped it and showed it to my mom. She saw it and said "That's cute, who gave you that?" I burst into tears and told her that I bought it for her, but my sister and her friend (who my dad always called Samantha, but it wasn't her real name) told me she wouldn't like it. My mom hugged me, told me she liked it and then used the wallet until the wallet died, which was probably only a few months; it was really small and made of plastic.

Still, she used it until it could no longer be used.

Merry Christmas.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

The Chaos Watcher


Image result for parallel parking

How well can you parallel park?


I would say that I've got some pretty mad parallel parking skills; it doesn't hurt that I have a small-ish car and am able to get in and out of spaces easily. I mean, I don't drive a Smart car or another sort of those 2-seater type cars, I drive a 4-door car, but it really isn't that big and not hard to park. I don't like parking on hills, and will avoid it when I can, but I can do it if I'm left with no other option.

Anyhow, I started a new job recently. One of the things I have to deal with in this job is street parking. I look for parking every morning. Sometimes I find it right away, sometimes I follow the street sweeper and park in its wake, sometimes I drive around for 20 minutes before I find parking. At my last job I parked in a garage in the same building as my office. The parking lot was usually pretty empty and I got to park in the same spot just about every day. I didn't have to walk outside to get from car to office; I could just take the elevator or walk up 2 flights of stairs. It was a nice luxury and just about the only thing I miss about my last company.

This morning I found parking about a block away from the office; not too shabby. I had to parallel park to get into the spot. There was a contractor's truck double parked about 1/2 a car length into the spot I would normally occupy as my starting position to back into the parking spot. I had to do some free-form fandango fancy moves to get into the spot, but I did it successfully and efficiently.

The man in the truck approached me and told me that he had been double parked for a while and was enjoying watching people try to park in my space, but then giving up because they couldn't negotiate the man's truck. He was highly amused at watching people's failed attempt at parallel parking in a tight spot.

After he gleefully told me about the person in the pick up truck who swore and shook his fist, or the person in the minivan who just couldn't get her turns right and was on the verge of tears before she tore away, he told me that he had been working in this neighborhood for the last 40 years, even with the gentrification of the neighborhood, new buildings, new businesses, new apartments, he didn't see much difference in the level of crime.  He then lifted up his sleeve and attached to his wrist was a pepper spray canister, locked and loaded and ready to be deployed "Spiderman style" should anyone get in his way. I took that as my cue to get out of his way, wished him a good day and walked the block to my office.

I mentioned my strange encounter to a coworker. Her first response was thinking the man probably wasn't very happy and needed to watch someone else in despair to make himself feel better. I mentioned it to Captain Awesome. He likened this man's behavior to someone who would see a baby bird fall from a tree and enjoy watching the little fellow try to navigate its way to safety whilst predators encircled. Both observations seem like the same side of the coin for me, one being an explanation, another being an example. Both I thought were accurate.

I've been around those types before; someone who needs to break others down in order to feel better about himself. Those who can't find value in themselves so they look to devalue others. Those who always find fault first, and always at a constant threat of never finding fortune. Those who enjoy creating discord because they are too afraid of risking creating good. I've worked with those types before. I've been married to those types before. I have been friends with those types before. They have an undercurrent of unhappiness running through them, yet always looking for ways to be the hero of every story, building themselves up at the expense of others, never being happy when other people shine.

Or maybe he was just a grumpy old man. Either way, that's no way to be.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Sock Matching

I’ve don’t have a washer and dryer at home. I mean, I do, but the washer is old and icky and the dryer is broken. I don't use them. I go to the laundromat.

In times of both plenty or panic, but not with reliable frequency, I have been known to send the laundry out. It’s so nice. The clothes come back folded and sorted by size. All the underwear is packaged together, and all the socks, (ohmagosh, the best part), all the socks come. back. matched. Do you know how many socks three kids have collectively? Sending out my laundry is a luxury. If I could do it every week, I would. For the sock-matching service alone, I would send out my laundry if I had the means.
These days my pennies are pinched a little tighter and I can no longer pay someone to do my laundry for me. I must go to the laundromat. It’s not so bad. All within about a block of the laundromat there’s a bakery, a taqueria, a burger joint, a sandwich shop, a market, two liquor stores and a bar. (There is also a pizza place, but the last time I was there, someone changed the total on my receipt, turning a 55 into a 65, thus turning a 20% tip into a, into a … I don’t want to do the math. Whoever changed it, upped my tip by $10. I was super pissed about it. The tip was on a take-out order, not table service. I ordered a pizza and salad to go and sat at the bar and drank a beer while I waited for my food to be ready.  A 20% tip on a beer and a take-out order is a good tip. I noticed the modification, changed it back and took a picture of it. In the end, I was only charged my original tip amount. I don’t know if the offender was the guy sitting next to me or the counter person, but I haven’t been back since.)
Image result for ross and rachel laundryWhen I do my laundry in the daytime, during the wash cycle, I usually have myself a cuppa joe and some kind of sweet treat at the bakery, then during the dry cycle, I go to the bar. When I do my laundry at night, I am usually with my partner, Captain Awesome; we usually just hit the bar for both the wash and dry cycles – sort of Ross and Rachel-ish but way more fun, instead of being pushed around in a laundry cart and kiss, we drink whiskey and kiss.

At first I hated the idea of going to the laundromat. But after a few months I started almost enjoying the time; not the actual doing of the laundry, but the time it affords me to have a moment to myself, accomplishing a chore, yes, but also having a few hours of (almost) free time. While I would rather pay someone to pick up my clothes from my house, wash my clothes, fold my clothes, match my socks and then bring it all back to me at the end of the day, I'm not complaining.








Trickle Down Economics - A Pointless Rant about Water Walter

I have never been the kind of mom who enjoys going to playgrounds. I don't really like going to the playground. Now that my kids are older and I don't need to be with them the whole time, and I can sit on a bench and read, the playground is OK, but for the most part, the playground has never been my jam. One of the things that bother me at playgrounds is the other adults; not all of them, just some of them. Like the ones who think it's OK to sit on the play structures and play on their phones, blocking the kids' path and thwarting every single game of "the sand is lava."

One thing I do like about the playgrounds in my neighborhood is the unspoken rule of sand-toy sharing. If a kid leaves their toys in the sand and then say, goes to play on the swings, their toys are fair game for other kids to play with so long as they don't take the toys out of the sandbox and they stop playing with the toys when it's time to pack them up and go home. I don't know if this is common in other neighborhoods, but it is in mine. It is a good practice.

Anywhoozle, I had me an incident a few weeks ago.

Pua and I were at the playground. There were a lot of kids there that day and a good number of them were playing in the sand, making trips to and from the water fountain filling their buckets and cups in the dispenser for water bottles.

Pua started playing with some boys, 2nd or 3rd grade looking. She going back and forth to the fountain and sandbox filling their bucket. Pua was happy to stand in line with all the other kids at the fountain waiting to fill her bucket. On one particular trip to the fountain, she and a grown-up, a grown ass man, were walking to the fountain. He beat her to the fountain with his gallon sized bucket and started filling his, before letting her fill her pint sized bucket. I walked over to them. I asked him why he didn't let her go first. Her pint sized bucket would take only 30 seconds to fill, his gallon sized bucket was going to take a 4 minutes (I know, I did the math). He said "we're working together." I looked at what he thought "working together" was. Her bucket was at the bottom of the fountain picking up all of the water that came out of the leaky pipes. I looked at the man and said "Ah, Trickle Down Economics, nice." The man got a weird look on his face, then gave me a really dirty look; (Ok so to him 10 out of 10 getting the reference, but negative several million points for actually thinking that method is fair.)

With her trickles from the leaky water dispenser, Pua and I then walked back to the sandbox. He followed me and asked me if I was upset with him. I told him that he should have let her go first since her bucket was so tiny and he was a grown-ass man with a gallon-sized bucket, 8 times bigger than her little bucket. He said he was filling water for his daughters sandbox. I told him that's all well and good, but they were the only two at the fountain at the time, and the decent and grown up thing to do would have been to let the little girl take 30 seconds to fill her bucket and not make her wait 4 minutes for him to fill his.

He got in my face and with weird bits of spit in the corners of his mouth, asked me loudly if I was accusing him of depriving my daughter of water. I told him I wasn't accusing him of depriving her of water, I was accusing him of establishing dominance over her and making her pick up his scraps by telling her to collect the water from the leaky pipes. He stared at me in disbelief. I stared at him until he broke the gaze, then I got up and walked over to another seat at the other side of the sandbox.

Turns out the boys Pua was playing with were his sons. They scolded him for not letting her go first and then followed it up with "Dad, just let it go. We're playing nicely," they said.
For the rest of our time at the playground we sat at opposite ends of the sandbox, glaring at each other and watching our respective kids play together nicely.




Tuesday, November 6, 2018

On Voting and Taking Cuts in the 9444 Precinct

I hate people taking cuts almost as much as I hate being late. Cutters suck. They share one thing in common with those who are late; lack of respect for their fellow humans. With their desire to be next in line, and ahead of you, they are telling you that they are better. They deserve to be next, not you. Cutters piss me off. I've posted about it before here and here.

All that being said, I cut in front of someone today. At the polls. I might suck.

The polls opened at 7am, but when I got to my polling place, the good folks at 9444 were having trouble setting up their counting machine. There was one person standing and waiting. She was standing about 5 feet away from the table where you check in and get your ballot. I asked her if she was in line. She said she was all checked in and she was done.  I didn't quite know what that meant so I asked her again, are you in line. She said no, she was done. I proceeded to walk over to the table to check in. The guy running check-in was having trouble setting up the counter box so I had to wait a bit to get my ballot. Finally, about 15 minutes after the polls officially opened, the man came over and started looking for my name in his book. The woman who was standing 5 feet away from the table; the woman who told me she was done told me that she was waiting in line and I had taken cuts, but whatever, it was fine with her. I told her that I had asked her if she was in line and she said she was done. She said "well, if I was done, why would I still be here." I offered to let her go ahead of me. She declined, then told me again how she was first. I told her again about what she said, and then told her it wasn't my fault she didn't know how to answer a question properly, as I asked her point blank "are you in line?" and she said "no, I'm done."

So to the lady who told me she was done, and not in line and standing 5 feet away from where any reasonable person would think a line should start, I'm sorry I took cuts. If you had told me you were in line, and if you had actually been standing in line, I wouldn't have taken cuts in front of you. I admit I was a bit of a dick to you and I'm sorry for that part. Nobody should have anyone be a dick to them, especially at 7:15am.

The upside is that she and I both voted.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Just Keep Saying "Hey"

A few years ago I was at Embarcadero Station waiting for my train. It was mid-day. There weren't very many people on the platform. There was this guy walking around; saggy pants, ribbed tank top, super stoney, baseball cap with shiny sticker on the brim, shoulder-length dreadlocks. He smelled like Noxema. He sidled up to me and said "Hey." I said "Hey" back. He said "Do you like rap music?" I said "It's OK." He said "Do you want to go out?" I said "No." He shrugged and walked away. A moment later I saw him walk over to another woman on the platform and say "Hey." I chuckled. Just as the my train was pulling away, I saw him approach another woman. "Hey." I chuckled again.Then I thought y'know, that approach is going to work on someone someday,  eventually. There's a girl out there for him and he just has to keep saying "Hey."

I recently found myself without a job. The last time I was jobless I endured 2 years of temp jobs, unemployment checks and food stamps. Except for the food stamps (which saved my life, by the way) it sucked ass. By the end of the two years I had the worst worst worst job hunting fatigue.

Image result for job hunting cartoon

I hate job hunting. I really really do. Losing my job this time around, I was filled with dread. Ugh, I have to start job hunting again. You have to be "on" all the time. You have to answer every single phone call, even when you don't recognize the number. You have to wear make up. You have to wear a suit. You can't swear. You have to check your email constantly. You have to answer the same questions over and over and over again. You have to be on your best "meeting the in-laws" behavior all the time. You have to take skills assessments for the programs you told them you know how to do. You have to tune, and re-tune your resume to fit the job description. You have to fill out tiny bubbles in the forms from EDD; did you look for work, did you turn down any work, were you too sick to work, did you get paid anything? Looking for a job full time is like the worst job ever.

But you know what? I do it. I do it because I need a job. I do it because I have a family to feed. I do it because I have bills to pay. I do it, because that's what you have to do when you look for a job. I do it because finding the right job and the right fit is crucial to being successful in your job and being happy in your life. You just have to keep at it. The right fit and the right job is there. You just have to keep at it.

You just have to keep saying "Hey."

And so get this:  It turns out I said "Hey" just the right amount of times. I start a new job on Monday. Yay me! I'm pretty happy about it. I knew from the initial phone call that I would like this place. I'm glad they said "Hey" back.


Friday, September 7, 2018

Pua Style!

I try my hardest to be the kind of mom who lets my kids wear what they want, so long as it's appropriate to the occasion (example, no flip-flops when they have to endure brunch at the Olympic Club). My opinion creeps in once in a while, but want them to be able to express themselves and present themselves in a way that makes them feel strong and confident.

Enter Pua.

I love her style. I love her attitude. I love her.








Monday, June 18, 2018

The Birthday Party - A Dream in Base 13

DNA and Me in 1998. I'm pretty sure I was pregnant with my oldest here, but I didn't know it yet.
But I did have stitches in my hand (not shown) from butchering a giant salmon.

My favorite author is Douglas Adams. I first discovered Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy at the El Dorado Libary in Long Beach. It sounded interesting. I read it. I loved it. It was a fun outer-space SciFi story with quirky characters and really great one-liners. I've read all 5 books in the trilogy. (I've read, but don't count And Another Thing, the 6th book in the trilogy, however. It wasn't written by DNA and I felt that Eoin Colfer, the author, was trying too hard). However, if I am being honest, more than H2G2, I liked the Dirk Gently series.

More still than H2G2 and Dirk Gently being a great reads, Douglas Adams helped me on my path of being comfortable with and embrace my weird; from him, I learned to accept myself. It was sort of my nerdy version of "it gets better."

Douglas Adams died in 2001. It made me sad.

Last night I had a dream about him. I woke up happy.

In my dream, Douglas Adams was still alive and he had a daughter around the same age as my youngest child.
I went to a birthday party at Douglas Adams' house. The inside of the house was white and had lots of flowy white fabric acting as walls creating rooms in the house's open floor plan. The back wall of the house was a giant window / sliding glass door that opened up to a big backyard with rolling green hills. As soon as we entered, my kids took off and went to the backyard to play. I looked around the room to find some interesting parents to speak with. All the parents were sitting still. Nobody was talking. They all looked really uncomfortable. Sitting in the middle of a long Kings Table was a dad from my oldest kid's class. He had an ax through his head; not a real ax, a fun one. Think of Steve Martin with the arrow in his head, that kind of ax. He looked like he wanted to be really whimsical and fun but ended up regretting his decision.

I walked around the living area a bit, noticed a great buffet table filled with delicious food. People were standing around it, but nobody was eating. I decided that going outside where all the action was would be more enjoyable. I went outside. The kids were having a super fun blast. There we life-size creatures characters from The NeverEnding Story milling about, a giant waterslide-dunktank-archery ride, lots of streamers, a maypole. 

While watching my kids play and run around off in the distance, the dad of my oldest kid with the ax in his head approached me. I asked him where DNA was. He said he spoke with him earlier but that he hated parties and was most likely hiding from all the hubbub as much as he could.


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Monday, May 14, 2018

Not the Right Size - An Open Letter to Sunset Scavenger


When I was a kid, trash night was Thursday night. Every Thursday it was my job to walk around the house and collect all the trash from the tiny cans in the bathrooms so my dad could take the trash to the curb. We didn't have trash cans; nobody did. We just put the bags on the curb. Then as I got older, the City said we had to have cans. My dad brought home these giant cans, taller than me. They were super thick cardboard with a metal rim. I could never find the right spot to grab them and drag them into the backyard when they were emptied. I usually kicked them over and rolled them into the backyard, hoping that I wouldn't lose control of the cans causing them to roll down the slight decline in the driveway to the street. I'm sure the city I grew up in has city-provided trash bins now, and perhaps even bins to recycle, but when I was a kid, we didn't have them.

Flash forward to present day, we have 3 bins in SF; black for landfill, green for compost and blue for recycle.

Dear Sunset Scavenger,

I am in complete support of the trash service collection program in San Francisco. I know to put my food and food-soaked paper packaging into the compost. I know to put my cans, bottles and papers into the recycle and I know where to put the items that are not nature-based or recyclable. I know to put all my used batteries in a plastic bag on top of the trash bin. I know to put all my plastic zip-lock/sandwich type bags in a plastic bag and place on top of the recycle.

It's a well-oiled practice-turned habit that I no longer even think about much. I just do it.

Here is a picture of my trash bins. I am really really bothered by them.The capacity seems to be sized appropriately to my trash output needs. My recycling is really freaking huge, my compost is a pretty good size. My trash bin is a bit small, but when one takes the small amount of time needed to separate one's refuse, one doesn't need a big trash bin.

My issue is the barrels themselves. I hate to go all Nigel Tufnel on you but they are all 3 different heights, all three different widths and all 3 different depths and three different lengths. They don't match. They aren't even sized proportionally. Even the handles are at different heights.

Not as bad as the stupid-ass cardboard bins with the metal rims I had to fight with every week but sheesh; trash is messy and icky, at least make it look nicer.

Thank you,
Andrea

P.S. I am not a crackpot.



Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Quirky Moral Imperative - Don't Be Late

When I was in Kindergarten my mom sent me to a babysitter in the morning before and after school. One time her husband took me to school. When we got there I was a tiny bit late; all the kids were already lining up to go into the classroom. My babysitter's husband told me to go up to my teacher and tell her I was tardy. I said I would but I knew I wasn't going to. I didn't want to tell my teacher I was tardy. Being tardy is wrong. I didn't want to get in trouble and I didn't want her to think badly of me. When I got to school I tried my best to blend into the line. I have no idea if she saw me join the line late or not but she never mentioned it and neither did I. As far as I thought, I was home free. She didn't know I was late. Face saved.

My whole life I've been both conscious and conscientious about being late. Being on time is important. Being late is inexcusable.

OK, sure, a big-rig jack-knifed on the road in front of you and the road is closed; your cat vomits all over your keys and you have to wash them off before you use them; your baby has a huge blow-out diaper, up the back, between the toes; someone is blocking your driveway and you can't get out.  All of those are great examples on when lateness is excusable; it's understandable.

What isn't understandable or excusable is being late for being late's sake.

Other people are important. When you make an appointment with them, you are asking them to give up a portion of their time for your benefit. Other people's schedules are created with the assumption that you are going to live up to your part of the bargain and do the thing you said you would do at the time you agreed to do it. When you are late you are disrespecting the the other party or parties involved. You are saying you are more important than them. You devalue another when you are late.

I realize that may sound a bit harsh, but I really believe that. It all comes down to respect. How much do you respect other people? And really, how much do you respect yourself? It shows poorly on you if you are late all the time. It shows you don't care about the other person. It shows you in a bad light.

For almost 20 years I was constantly fighting to not be late. I was married to a chronically late person who was completely comfortable with that status. No matter how much lead time we had, no matter what time of day or what kind of event, we were always late. It wasn't because of a mishap or something we couldn't control. It was because the chronically late ex didn't think being on time was important.

There was always a lot of stress that went along with having to be somewhere at a certain time. It didn't matter if it was a family dinner, church, kids' sportball practices or games, doctor's appointments, dinner reservations, a flight we had to catch; we were always late. It didn't matter if being late would mean having to miss something, or having to forgo some benefit; and it didn't matter if being on time was important to someone else. It was always a big source of stress for me. It didn't  matter to him that it bothered me so much.

Over the years I did my best to manage the lateness; making sure the kids and I were ready long before we needed to be so ex could get ready without any hurdles or telling ex the event started 30 minutes before it actually did. It worked with varying degrees of mild success.

Now almost 4 years of being single, the stress of not being on time has manifested itself in a strange way. I am super conscious of the time, where I need to be and when. I've taken to setting alarms on my phone with reminders to do things, when to leave so I can arrive on time. Some nights I get really bad alarm clock anxiety and wake up in the middle of the night to see if my alarm is still set. I'm early for everything and apologetic when I am late, even when I can't control the circumstances.

I realize this moral imperative of mine manifests itself a bit strongly, but I'm not apologizing for it. I don't like how it's paired up with the divorce PTSD, but I don't regret not being late for stuff. I don't regret treating people with the respect they deserve by being on time and present for the time they've scheduled for me.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Me and Hyla-O Down by the Schoolyard - a true yet pointless story

My car, my music.

In general, I don't listen to regular radio much. Most of my music is enjoyed in a form such that I don't hear a lot of current songs or new artists. I listen to Sirius, Pandora and my ipod. All three of those musical avenues are all pretty targeted and mostly tailored to me. I listen to First Wave with Richard Blade, Deep Tracks with Jim Ladd, Classic Vinyl on Sirius, whatever strikes my mood on Pandora (I've been listening to a lot of Phyllis Dillon or Adrian Belew lately) and my ipod, filled with guilty pleasures, hula stuff and the one-off songs my kids ask me to add.

I'm always excited when my kids sing the music I like. It's like I'm passing along to them not only a snapshot of music and history they wouldn't otherwise be exposed to, but also I'm sharing with them a piece of myself I wouldn't know how to otherwise share; an intangible understanding of my inner-self. I stood up a little taller the day my boy was annoyed he couldn't get "Thela Hun Ginjeet" out of his head and the time my little one busted out with L'Trimm (we're Tigre and Bunny and we like the boom) while she was coloring quietly on the living room floor.

It's one thing to actively expose my kids to my music in the car, but something happened yesterday that just turned my love of sharing music with my kids to 11. My love of sharing music with my kids just created its own intelligent life.

My daughter came home from work today and said "Mom, I heard this song today and I can't get it out of my head."

I asked her what it was (hoping it wasn't Caribbean Queen by Billy Ocean) and she told me it was "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard" by Paul Simon. Paul Simon? She likes Paul Simon? She got a Paul Simon song stuck in her head?

She heard a song that I have loved all my life an she liked it too, all on her own! Yay. It made me happy.

In the early 80's, Saturday Night Live reruns played at 11pm weeknights. During the summer it was my goal, my duty even, to stay up until 11 and watch SNL. One night, I must have been about 10 or 11, a rerun with Paul Simon came on. During Weekend Update, we saw Paul Simon play a game of basketball with Connie Hawkins, while "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard" played. That song instantly became my favorite song of the moment. We had a Paul Simon album at home. I was so stoked to see that "Me and Julio..." was on it. I played it over and over and over again, practicing the whistling part until I got it down perfectly.

I looked for the clip on youtube but couldn't find it. I did find a recording of the song. I also found the transcripts for the SNL bit. Bummer I couldn't find what I was looking for.


Friday, April 20, 2018

For the Love of Hot Water Based Beverages

My folks are big coffee drinkers. They drank coffee at every meal, even dinner. I thought it was weird they would order coffee as their beverage at every meal, even dinner at Hof's Hut for soup and muffins. I'd always be mad that after we finished dinner we would have to sit around while they drank more coffee. I finished my dinner. I was ready to go. They'd been drinking coffee all throughout the meal, why did they need more? Then as I got older I mellowed, as I started realizing the benefits of a delicious cuppa joe. They've since switched to Sanka, but their coffee consumption routine hasn't changed much.

I was a senior in high school when I started drinking coffee regularly. Winchell's Donuts was a major contributor in the forming of my caffeine habit / ritual. Every morning before school, I would drive my dad's F150 (3 on the tree!) to the Winchell's on Sterns and Palo Verde, get my coffee and fill it with a good 15-20 second pour from the sugar dispenser, add a few inches of half & half and be on my way. I would put it in the drink holder, drive to school, and pound my coffee as I was running to my first class of the day.

Then I discovered 7-11 coffee. There's something about bad coffee and how much better it gets with the addition of artificially flavored creamers (irish cream was my favorite) and poured into a styrofoam cup.

Over time my coffee drinking became more "sophisticated". I discovered mochas at Midnight Expresso in Belmont Shore. Still, with the sugar, though. Tons and tons of extra milk and sugar.

Shortly after I moved to SF, I lived across the street from a bakery, and later I started working there. Coffee became a necessary staple; I kept late hours and woke up early. Coffee was necessary. A good 2 inches of sugar and an equal amount of cream in a 12 oz cup did me nicely.

I still drink coffee, but not as much. I prefer black tea these days, Barry's specifically.

I do not, however, add sugar anymore, unless it's hotel room coffee, then it's necessary. I stopped adding sugar because it was easier; my boyfriend back then would berate me every time he would bring me coffee, make snide comments about my sugar use. "How can you drink this so sweet? It's so gross. I can't believe you like it this way. I don't want to accidentally drink your coffee or I'll throw up. I put so much sugar in your coffee I started gagging." Two years later we were married and I was drinking coffee just like his, just cream.  Although I prefer the taste of no sugar in my coffee these days, I'm still bitter about being bullied into giving it up and add sugar out of spite once in a while.

What's your caffeine ritual?

My caffeine ritual is simple. I wake up, have a cup of Barry's and milk (no sugar) while getting ready for work. I get to work and have a quick shot of espresso while the tea kettle is warming up, pour myself a 2nd cup of Barry's (sometimes PG Tips), but no milk (or sugar), and head to my desk. Most of the time I get through half of it before I get busy and forget about it, but by then I'm sufficiently caffeinated and don't need anymore. If I'm still looking to enjoy a hot beverage, though I'll switch to green tea. My favorite green tea right now is Green Tea with Coconut from Harney and Sons Fine Teas. It comes in a pretty pink box and I keep it at my desk so I don't have to share.

Once in a while I'll stop at my local coffee house by my house on the way to work, but 80% of the time, I forget about it on my drive to work, it gets over-steeped and bitter and I don't drink it and I proceed with my usual caffeine routine at work.

This morning I had my morning Barry's, stopped at my local coffee house, got a 2nd cup of Barry's and had most of it consumed by the time I got to work. Being sufficiently caffeinated, I didn't have my espresso shot while waiting for my kettle to heat and I didn't bring the subsequent cup of tea back to my desk.

I feel off; like I missed a step. I will have to correct that and get back on track with a late morning tea.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

What's in a Name? - An Examination of Naming Shibboleths

Fussy Perfume Heiress Bibi Gallini
My dad wanted to name me Babette. My mom said no. I was a little disappointed when I found that out. I have to say, I would have made a rockin' Babette. I would have made that name proud. I totally could have pulled off Babette. I could have been called Babs, Betty, Bibi. Ooh, I would have liked to be called Bibi; just like the fussy perfume heiress Bibi Gallini..


Mostly everyone calls me by my whole first name; Andrea (pronounced ANN-dree-uh). About 1/2 of the people who call me by my whole first name mispronounce it (awn-DRAY-uh, ann-DRAY-uh, AWN-dree-uh). It sometimes bugs me, but not enough to actually say anything about it. I guess it's just the territory that goes along with having my name. I also have a short name, two actually. Andi is used by my extended family; aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. And still another, Ani is used by my immediate family; parents, siblings, niece, nephew.
My partner, Captain Awesome calls me by the familiar, immediate family moniker, but my friends, even my closest ones, never made that leap; not even my ex. I've often wondered if that was a failing on my part not or just a personal preference on their part, in any case, habits are formed, damage is done. There's a guy at work who calls me by my "extended family" name. I am totally cool with it. I had a boss once who called me Ms. XXX, then when I took back my maiden name he referred to me as Ms. LLL)

My kids names are Penny, Maximilian and Gabrielle.
I'm lying, that's not their names, but for the point I want to illustrate, these names will work nicely.

Penny, my oldest.
Everyone calls her Penny. Only a few people call her Pen, but only a tiny tiny few, and not very often or consistently. I call her Pen and refer to her as Pen in texts, but not all the time. She doesn't go by Pen, she goes by Penny.
Her name is 2 syllables. Most people use both of them when addressing her. She doesn't mind being called Pen and will answer to it just fine, but nobody ever does and she's not all that bothered by it.

Maximilian, my son.
He's a bit different. He prefers Max. I call him by his whole name, but if I use his whole name in public, around his friends, he gets mad. He prefers that short version of his name. (There was this one summer where he told everyone at YMCA camp, including counselors, that his name was Nick and nobody knew who I was asking about when I picked him up until I used his "camp name.") Maximilian is for official stuff, important stuff, stuff for strangers and doctors. Stick with Max with him. I equate it to when someone used to call me Mrs. XXX, I would be confused and think "but Mrs. XXX is my mother-in-law, not me. I'm Mrs.... Oh wait, I guess I am Mrs. XXX" (note - I am no longer Mrs. XXX, thank God, but the point is still valid.) Max also has a name some kids use at school too. I like the nickname. I think it's cute, but I'm not allowed to use it, only the students in his class are.

Gabrielle is a bit different. She tells everyone her name is Gabrielle. She offers no other option. One has to earn Gabby, one is not allowed to start with Gabby. One has to work towards Gabby. She wants to be introduced as Gabrielle. She introduces herself as Gabrielle. At home we call her Gabby. I call her Pua.

It's a social shibboleth of sorts. What people call me and how they refer to me, and how they pronounce my name, put them into buckets of how I know them, what we talk about, how we interact.

I find it interesting that the path to each person's comfort level depends on the callee, not the caller.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

To Catch a Cat Cold - A Dream

My cat, Pauly sleeps with me most nights. Usually he gets himself comfy in a spot somewhere around my knees. When it gets really cold out, he sleeps on my head. Last night when I woke up to pee, I found him curled up right by my head..

This morning I  heard my cat sneeze about 5 times in a row. I think he may have sneezed on me last night.

I was in some kind of vacation house with a group of people. I recognized them in my dream but I can't remember who they are now. I was sitting at the kitchen table. I had just started a load of laundry in my pull-out sofa, because I guess in my dream life, Ikea sofa beds can be hooked up to a plumb line. There were a bunch of kids playing outside. A baby about 6 months old crawled up to me. She was dressed like Minnie Mouse. She sat on my lap and watched the kids play through the window. After a few moments she turned her head towards me and sneezed directly in my face. 


Welcome now my friends to the show that never ends

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Nice Pictures - Where'd you steal them from?

Some of the pictures in my blog were taken by a photographer called Julie Michele. Some of the pictures were either taken by me or someone I know. Some of the pictures were ripped right from the internet, mostly from google image searches from photographers to whom I may or may not give credit.

Rest assured I make no money from any of it.