Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Drag Queen Heaven

After years of almost making it happen, I'm finally going....to Burning Man. Tomorrow.

So tonight my apartment looks like the circus is passing through. At this very moment I see before me sparkly silver platform boots, florescent wigs, a lunar-chic jacket (think Hollywood starlet meets Martian), fishnet stockings in every shade of the rainbow, a bike adorned in fancy pink and white fur and piles on top of piles of dresses that fall somewhere in between fabulous and trashy. I take back the circus analogy--this is drag queen heaven.

The plan is to arrive on Wednesday and leave Sunday, returning to San Francisco on Monday. Anything could happen in between...and I mean anything. I'll report back upon my return to civilization.

To be honest, I'm a little scared...

Friday, August 24, 2007

Free Milk!

I grew up in a small town--think Wonder Years meets 90210. I’ve known many of my best friends since we were 5 years old. I can still picture them in their florescent jelly sandals and Kindergarten-sized Esprit skirts playing “kiss the Chris” during recess. We all had crushes on our classmate, Chris D. who had the cutest little-boy freckles EVER and a contagious giggle that I can still conjure up in my mind. In second grade, we merged with another elementary school. Enter Robert W., the new collective crush.

Unlike Chris, who playfully egged us on, Robert kept his distance, focusing on his sporty pals and hilarious ways to piss off our teachers. Obviously, his lack of interest in our pleas for attention only made us like him more. We couldn’t help but swoon over him, though, year after year. He was tall, standing heads above the rest of us, cute (gorgeous blueish green eyes with sandy blond hair), and best of all, he was tough—real tough.

Granted, tough for Chatham, NJ isn’t exactly gangsta freak, but he was the kid who would take off his JACKET on the playground in the middle of WINTER revealing a T-shirt with a sports team logo. This way, he could maneuver better when playing the I’ll-take-you-down tackle game du jour with the other athletic guys. Meanwhile, the rest of us were bundled up in jackets with fur around the hoods, wearing gloves (mittens weren't quite up to the third-grade fashion standard) and a hat with a boppy ball on top, counting down the minutes until the recess aid would let us back inside. If you’ve never experienced February in NJ, trust me, it’s cold.

Not only was Rob tough (he became Rob around the time we entered middle school), but he was also hilarious. He knew exactly what to say to get a rise out people. He was one of those kids who would say something totally obnoxious to a teacher, but even that teacher couldn’t deny how funny the comment was, and we’d all get to watch the teacher struggle with all her might as she tried to hold in her laughter. She knew if she laughed, her authority and dignity would immediately be called into question, yet not laughing would run counter to whatever sense of humor she may have had. It was quite a battle to behold.

By the time we got to seventh grade and merged schools with our sister town (the infamous “Regionalization” initiative), Rob had earned quite the reputation as a trouble maker. The kids from the other school knew him right away, especially the girls. A superstar football player standing well over six feet, he was more alluring than ever.

In order to finesse the spacing issues associated with the regionalization, our eighth grade class was housed in a separate building for the entire year. We loved it—not only were we closer to the older kids since the building was adjacent to the high school, but having our OWN SCHOOL somehow translated in our 13-year-old minds to mean…FREE FOR ALL! Looking back, I have no idea why this sociological phenomenon transpired, but I can assure you we were completely out of control. (Side note: some of the girls were so misbehaved and bitchy that year that the school psychologist made them—err, us—participate in weekly group therapy, a meeting fondly known as “bitch bunch” where we were taught the importance of respecting authority figures and fellow classmates).

Anyway, one of my favorite moments from that year was a group uprise sparked by none other than Rob. The day was progressing like any other. We were all in the lunchroom, my friends and I likely misbehaving and disrespecting our peers when the vice principal walked in, looking notably solemn. He flickered the lights to get our attention and made the following announcement:

“Everyone? May I have your attention, please? I have some sad news to share with you all. You may have noticed that Mrs. [So-and-so] is absent today. You all know her—she's the wonderful woman who sells you your milk each day with a smile. She passed away unexpectedly last night and I thought you'd want to know."

Following the uncomfortable announcement, Rob stood up--clearly he had something to say. Confused, we looked up at him, incredulous that he would take it upon himself to represent our class with a response about the unfortunate lunch-lady situation. Totally deadpan, he then said, “We all know what THIS means…” There was a heavy pause followed by the rest of his sentence: “FREE MILK!”

Our response was immediate, unanimous wild laughter. We knew better than to laugh about the situation, but the comment was simply too funny to handle. People began cheering and it’s entirely possible that a “free milk, free milk!” chant broke out. The vice principle looked at us in disgust and yelled, “You people are animals! I am very disappointed!” He then walked out of the lunch room, leaving the lunch aids to settle us down.

Rob passed away on August 10th yet he still has me laughing to the point of tears. We’ll all miss you, Rob.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Summer Guest: Round 5 (the finale)

As you know, I've now hosted quite a few people, the last of whom has now departed. For the last eight weeks, it's been all entertaining all the time....and I didn't call in sick to work ONCE.

I believe I've earned myself something fancy. Perhaps it's time to treat myself to some colored wax and a personalized metal stamp. I've always wanted to mail in my cell phone bill with a wax seal along with a check signed in calligraphy. Maybe I'll even trim the bill in lace.

Anyway, what I'd like to share about my most recent visitor are the following quotes:

Friend: (in response to me bringing up a girl we both know) Oh her? Can't stand 'er. She's the type of person who would answer her front door and exclaim "enchante!" (A perfect description.)

Me: So what did you do after we parted ways last night?
Friend: I really should not be left alone in a hotel room. I woke up on the floor this morning with flashes of Maid in Manhattan dancing through my head. Let's leave it at that.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Revenge of the Nerds

Ya, so I own a pair of big sunglasses. And I work along side a bunch of stylie designers. I was even one of those girls in 7th grade who snuck out at night to meet cute boys in the woods where we'd play scandalous games of truth or dare.

But don't let this fool you into thinking I'm anything but a huge nerd. Seriously. One supporting fact for my membership in Club Nerd is my penchant for all things grammatical. While other people's interests include fun topics like Britney's shocking fall from grace, the latest in must-have Mac technology, and exciting sporting events, I'm sitting around thinking about oft misunderstood phrases like "whet your appetite" vs. "wet your appetite." Not exactly cocktail party conversation, unless....you're drinking cocktails with yours truly.

This passion runs deep. In fact, it's lead me to date people just because they sent me an email that clearly demonstrates their mastery of you're vs. your (well maaaaybe there were a few other reasons but not really). One former boyfriend not only knew the Latin roots for countless words but would also routinely drop $.50 bombs like "bricolage" in regular conversation without sounding full of himself--irresistible.

The most recent place this dorky little interest has lead me is into this hard-core editing class. It's 3 hours each week for 10 weeks and the room is PACKED with nerds of all types: college nerds, foreign nerds, grandparent nerds, you name it. We learn things like how to make that rough call between the semi-colon and the comma (an excruciating decision at times), the difference between M dashes and N dashes, and the nuances that come into play with attributive vs. possessive adjectives (like farmer's market vs. farmers market--more tricky than you'd think). Each week, everyone shows up with their bright orange Chicago Manuel of Style and their tattered Merriam-Webster's Dictionary to discuss the finer points of the English language.

Since the first class, I've secretly told myself that my fellow students were bigger nerds "than I." Each time one of them would insist we consider the 3rd or 4th definition of a word listed in the dictionary, I silently confirmed my suspicion. I just knew they had been the teacher's pet their whole life, the kind of person who gives nerds a bad name. And, hey, at least my dictionary was pocket sized. But something happened last Thursday that made me proud to count myself as one of the group.

So, our teacher (a hipster mom with a personality reminiscent of Nurse Diesel from High Anxiety) returned our mid-term exams. At the end of class, I asked if she could please tell us the average score so that I could get some perspective (read: feel a little better about my dismal performance). She responded that she's not at liberty to share anyone's grades. With that, another student spoke up and added that he, too, would like to know the average. "Not who got what grade," he explained with a hint of despair in his voice, "you know, the average." She responded that she didn't feel it would be "appropriate" to share such information, which prompted yet another disgruntled student to explain the meaning of average.

The teacher, wearing a babydoll dress over a pair of sassy jeans, wasn't having any of it...and she was getting more flustered by the minute. All of a sudden she blurted out, "I'm not going to share your grades! If you want to tell each other what you got, FINE. Then you can share your salaries, too!" With that, class came to a screeching halt and she walked out the door. Eek.

A little embarrassed that my question prompted such a violent outburst, I packed up my books and red erasable pens and made my way to the 3rd St exit. Before I made it out, a few classmates caught up with me. I was sure they were going to yell at me for upsetting our teacher, and I didn't have it in me to apologise.

Instead, one fellow nerd, nearly in tears, announced that she had gotten a D on the exam and that her dreams of becoming a professional proofreader had been shattered. Another woman shared with the two of us that she had received a C-. She was fuming. "I've been a magazine editor for ten years, for the love of God. I was just taking this class for fun!" Just then, individual classmates started walking up to our group, introducing themselves and announcing their grades on cue, as if we had rehearsed the scene: "Hi, Mike, D+," "Hey guys, Amy, C-," "Hi, Chrissy, D," "Kelly, C+," "Hi guys, Sandra, C," "Hey, Amanda, D," "Hey, Meg, D-." We'd never spoken to one another before and here we were, sharing our midterm scores and bearing our souls under the flickering florescent lights.

It was like the final scene from Revenge of the Nerds when Gilbert gives the dramatic speech at the homecoming rally about how hard it is to be a nerd, to be an outcast. One by one, all types of people, including the cool frat boys and the hot sorority girls, stand up to support him. Remember that part? Right after the Lambda Lambda Lambdas win the homecoming games?

Well, let this serve as my official cry of support for grammar nerds everywhere. Hold your heads high as you conjugate those verbs, memorize those prepositions with conviction, and for God's sake, whip out your 500 page dictionaries with pride! We must unite against those who attempt to stand between us and grammatical salvation. How dare they discourage us and then try to cover up their evil plan? If justice is alive in this country, those people will wind up sleeping in the gym.

Monday, August 6, 2007


I really love San Francisco. I do. I even wrote about some reasons for this once. In fact, there are new reasons all the time....like the Alamany Farmer's Market (my friend/neighbor brought me there recently and it couldn't have been more thrilling) and the fact that I got to impress one of my recent visitors with a somewhat badass earthquake. As much as I love this city, there's one thing that never fails to trigger day dreams of moving far, far away. And that thing would be the cold summer weather.

Before you launch into a lengthy retaliation noting how SF has the mildest winters ever which really make up for the summers...and how I can just spend some time in the East Bay where it's "at least 10 degrees warmer"....and how the fog is actually quite beautiful....and how there are some October days to die for (true) which also sort of make up for the summer (false), please just consider for a minute that some people really like it when it's sunny and hot outside for weeks on end.

I know this may be hard to believe for all you people who find temperatures above 70 degrees to be unbearable, you same people who crave those "cozy" summer days when the fog rolls in and "blankets the city." For some of us, that fog is the ENEMY as it turns they sky gray and blocks out the warm sun, which causes us to freeeeeeeeze as we brave the walk home from BART, as if it were February in NYC. There, I said it. I live in SF, and I don't like the fog. And, yes, I realize that's like living in Spain and not liking tortillas...or in NJ and not liking, um, gardens.

With eight summers behind me here in the city, I've figured out successful coping strategy: go on fun trips to warm places. To further my plan, this past weekend I visited my friend Will in Santa Fe who's house-sitting for his parents while they're in Australia. Very noble, no? He gets to live in this beautiful home where he writes screen plays, works on Web design projects, and goes for long runs amidst a sea of adobes. And when he's done with his work for the day, he gets to drink margaritas and hang out on in a short sleeved shirt on the "ramada." Oh, and did I mention that it's sunny and warm there...and that the sky is bright blue? Examples one and two: see above and below.

A few words on Will. First of all, he's an exceptional host. In fact, if you're ever looking for tips on entertaining a visitor, you should probably just email him at Lauren'sfavoritehostatsixsquaredotcom. Besides cooking incredible meals and letting you sleep in without giving you a guilt trip, he never makes you go to sporting events, and he has fun doing exactly what you want (eating green chile and buying sparkly window decorations at a crafts fair) and last but not least, he always sends you back home with a CD that he put together especially for you...and it becomes your favorite for quite a while...until he makes you a new one.

Second, he knows more about movies than anyone...possibly ever. And he can guess exactly what films will appeal to each of his friends. Upon his recommendation, on Saturday night we watched Grey Gardens, a documentary about Jackie Kennedy's aunt and first cousin who "descend into a strange life of dependence and eccentricity" at their decaying house in the Hampton's. What could be better? Needless to say, I'll be watching that one again.

There are lots of other things to say about Will, but I don't' want to embarrass him. Instead, I'll just post some more pictures of the blue sky in Santa Fe: