Wednesday, June 24, 2009

In the Knick of Time

With Pride coming up, I found myself in a panic over my hair. No, I'm not going to be dancing on a float in front of thousands of people nor am I attending any formal events. In fact, I'm going to be out of town this weekend. Then why the panic? Well, the boys (and girls) start arriving in San Francisco early in the week (as in NOW), and I'm certainly not going to have a repeat of my 2007 Pride experience, when, clearly, I was ill-prepared.

What happened was that on my way to the Pride parade a bird dive bombed my head outside the Safeway store...and these two stylie gay men witnessed the scene. Rather than curse the bird and ask if I was OK, they took the bird's side! Their attitude was that it served me right since my hair, according to them, looked like a nest. Bitches!

Well, this year I'm READY! In fact, I got my hair done at a fancy salon today. I made the stylist PROMISE that it would be as unnestlike as possible. No birds will be landing on THIS head, no siree. (Side note re this stylist: He used the word "edit" to talk about cutting my hair as in, "Don't you worry, girl. We're just going to make a few edits to your back layers. It's going to look fierce." Love him! See above pic for edited back layers: revealed.)

Anyway, on the theme of Pride, I wanted to give a shout out to my friend Nick who is one of those SF friends I was so lucky to meet back in the day, and who still hangs out with me many years later, despite the fact that my hair sometimes looks like nest. There are many reasons that I'm proud of Nick including his recent acquisition of a hard-earned M.F.A. in Creative Writing, his first-ever, brand spankin' new BOOK DEAL (yeah, you heard me) and his gradual rise to cute outfit domination (see below pic). But most importantly, I'm proud of Nick...for being Nick.

I don't always get it 100% right when it comes to explaining my good friend's personal journey in perfectly PC terminology (still struggling a little with Queer vs. Gay and, for example, if it's ok to ask a FTM for a tampon if you're pretty sure they have one in their bathroom)...but I'm getting there.

In the words of Harvey Milk, "I like to sit in the window and watch the cute boys walk by." And I love that Nick is now one of those boys...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Them's Fightin' Words

I totally forgot that I was kind of in a bar fight last week! Well, the fight mostly belonged to my friend, Amy, but I was sitting next to her for half of it so I feel like it was my fight, too, by association. And I made it worse at the end which means I can totally claim bragging rights to having had a hand in the brawl. Win!

Out Da Way

It all started with a call from Amy on a Tuesday, saying that she was on her way to The Phoenix Club (the Irish pub right near my apartment) where she would be meeting up with her boyfriend/fiancé, Matt. She invited me to come down and hang with them, which would be the perfect chance for me to return the pirate “undergarments” that I had borrowed from her for Bay-To-Breakers (long story involving my participation in a Louisiana Crawfish Boil group costume). It took me a little while to get to the bar and by the time I did, all hell had broken loose.

According to Amy, the saga started when she was pulling into a parking spot on Valencia St. and a car pulled up beside her. The female driver yelled through the car window that the spot was hers...and Amy best move out da way. Amy stated the obvious, which was that she got there first and that the spot, clearly, belonged to her. The other driver (whom we’ll call KrazyGirl for simplicity’s sake) disagreed and unleashed on Amy, bad.


A Self Respecting Jersey Girl

At this point, Amy felt nervous that if she did park there, KrazyGirl would key her car the minute she walked away to meet Matt. So, like any self respecting Jersey girl, Amy casually flicked her off and found a new spot. Hopefully, Matt would already be at The Phoenix and she could tell him all about the showdown when she got there. Well, when she walked into The Phoenix, not only did she see Matt, but guess who was sitting at the bar? Yep, KrazyGirl!


Before Amy had the chance to tell Matt anything, she overheard KrazyGirl complaining to the bartender about “the self-entitled blond bitch who tried to steal her spot.” Not about to stand by and listen to herself be smacktalked, Amy marched right up to KrazyGirl and told her that she was, well, krazy.


As you can imagine, KrazyGirl did not take kindly to this and ripped into my friend for thinking she had any right to take a spot from “a local.” It turns out that KrazyGirl lives on the block (which makes her my neighbor—eek) and believes that she has first dibs on every spot between 19th and 20th streets, even if she gets there after someone else has begun to pull in. We could spend time dissecting this curious logic, but let’s just move on, shall we?

Who? That Douchbag?

So Amy, amused at how ridiculous this was, starting laughing and Krazy girl got upset…at which point she accused Amy of stalking her and called the PoPo. While they were waiting for the police to arrive, Amy explained to KrazyGirl that she had planned to meet her boyfriend at this very bar which just so happend to be located on KrazyGirl’s personal block--no stalking involved. KrazyGirl then glanced in Matt's direction, pointed at him, and commented, “Who? That douchebag?”


So the police arrived and interviewed everyone. KrazyGirl told her side of the story and added that Matt had tried to hit her. Huh? Ummm, no. The police took everyone’s information and made both Amy and KrazyGirl promise that they would not speak to each other for the remainder of the evening—like two kindergartners relegated to separate time-out corners. KrazyGirl was confined to the bar area and Amy to the cocktail table area. It was at this point that I walked in...and returned the pirate panties to their rightful owner.


The Professor

Fast forward to the end of the night when KrazyGirl is walking out of the bar. As she passes our table, one of us (I wonder who?), yells “byyyyye!” and she immediately flips out (oops!). It was at this point that she educated us about how we are all huge losers and how she is smarter than all of us combined since, after all, she’s a math teacher at a community college. (How she knew we weren’t at the bar for a MENSA meeting remains a mystery.) And just to prove it, she held up a text book and shook it at us.

At this point, we started to feel sorry for KrazyGirl. She was just so krazy, poor thing. But before we had time to act on our sympathy, she dropped an insult that really crossed the line. Before I tell you what it was, it’s important to remember that, over the past 3 hours, Amy’s parking spot had been taken from her, she had been called a bitch, she had overheard Krazygirl talk smack about her to the bartender, her fiancé had been called a douchebag and she had been forced to spend 30 minutes getting interviewed by the police. All this, and she was still in moderately good spirits.


Things Escalate

As she was leaving, KrazyGirl announced that if there was so much a fingerprint on her car when she returned from wherever she was going (maybe to teach an Algebra II class? Conic sections?), Amy’s car would wind up in a ditch in Hunter’s Point. Despite this weirdly violent threat, Amy kept her cool. But then KrazyGirl swung below the belt adding “and I bet you don’t even know where Hunter’s Point is, being from the Marina and all!” It was this comment that sent my friend over the edge.

Background: For those of you who don’t live in SF, there has been a long-running battle between these two diametrically opposed neighborhoods. The Marina is known for being upscale with a more conservative residential crowd (think Upper East Side) whereas the Mission tends to attract the artsy, intellectual crew (The Village meets Hells Kitchen). As you can imagine, all sorts of associated terminology and feuding have come out of this division, most of which make excellent fuel for insults. Basically, calling someone who is not from the Marina a “Marina girl” is akin to calling an ethnic Afghan a Hazāra,” with the intent of pissing this person off. In other words, it’s really bad.


The Return of the PoPo

So Amy and Matt pretty much ripped this girl "up one side and down the other" as they say, and KrazyGirl huffed her way down the block…with her math book. Not 10 minutes later, the police came back and asked what happened. Turns out, they had been called again. The funniest thing about this part of the saga is that the police were now interviewing Amy and Matt, who were sitting on stools at a high cocktail table, through the window of the bar (see above pic for set-up). “She called me a d-bag!” Matt relayed. “And threatened to drive my girlfriend’s car into a ditch!” “Wait!” Amy added. “She called me a...Marina Girl.”


And with that, the interview came to a screeching halt. I could be wrong, but it appeared as though the cop was horrified on Amy’s behalf. He put away his notepad and made us promise not to interact in any way with KrazyGirl if she returned. Then he went back to whatever he was doing before he started interviewing us through the window.


And that, my friends, was my first bar fight of the summer. Moral of the story? When you're out in the Mission, it's all fun and games until someone is slandered with the nastiest two words in the hood: Marina Girl.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The City By the Bay

May, 2009 marked my 10-year anniversary in San Francisco. Yep, in May of 1999 my friend Verd flew across the country to Portland, OR to help me move down the coast to SF where I would start my first real job—the kind where you have to spend your first few pay checks on professional-looking outfits from the Ann Taylor sale rack. Truth be told, I didn’t really like living in Portland. It may have had something to do with the fact that I arrived in February and NEVER ONCE SAW THE SUN in the dismal 3.5 months that I called that city my home. Not even for one minute.

Oh, what’s that, you say? Summers in Portland are unbeatable? Fine. You can have them, along with a raging case of Seasonal Affective Disorder for the rest of the year…and a complete line of all-season fleece-wear. Touché! (To be fair, it was the year of El Niňo when I lived there, which resulted in unusually rainy weather.)

So off we went down Highway 1 with my furniture in the back of a rental van. Along the way, Verd and I caught up on life post-college, taking breaks to visit the redwoods and marvel at the glimmering Pacific. I could feel my spirits lifting with every crash of my dresser against the center console. Who could afford bungie cords? We were 23...

After a long and winding road (both literally and figuratively) we made it to SF. Verd flew back to Boston, and I moved onto my friend Becca’s couch. Upon her recommendation, I took the open room at her pal Heather’s place and officially began my life as a San Francisco resident. Just a few weeks later, my high school friend, Dougie, came to visit, and insisted that I meet his buddy from college who had also just moved to the city. Enter Matt Graves.

Hailing from the great state of Massachusetts, Matt shared my East coast sensibilities. (I have no idea what that even means, but I promise there’s a nugget of truth in there somewhere.) He and I were pretty much inseparable during those years, exploring our new city and working our way through the trials of dot com madness and the 20-something dating scene. One of my favourite stories from that time entails Matt asking a girl he fancied to meet him at this bar--a bar he thought looked like a lot of fun. Little did he realize, it was a hardcore dyke bar. Then when he showed up 30 minutes late, he found his budding relationship moving very quickly from "getting-to-know-you" to "we’re-so-over." Ha!

I was incredibly lucky to meet all sorts of fun friends over those introductory years…another one of them being Ms. Marisa. Courtesy of Craigslist, I met her through a temporary living situation, yet, thankfully, her starring role wound up being not-so-temporary. It was Marisa who decided that a 10-year anniversary warranted an “Adult Dinner Party” since, after all, we were adults now. So threw one she did. And the theme was, of course, San Francisco, which meant a menu featuring Ciappino with sourdough bread and Irish Coffees with desert!

Seated at our table were some of my oldest friends in the city (along with some new yet golden ones): a former roommie, my boss from my first job, and, of course, Mr. Graves. We spent the evening telling stories from the early years which was fun, and by fun I mean mortifying. (Remember when Lauren killed her roommate’s hamster*? What about that time when Mickey needed back-up behind the Powerhouse bar during the Folsom St. Fair and somehow convinced her to serve the stark naked/endlessly amused clientele? Oh! And remember that really weird guy she dated who….” ). Ugh.

All in all, the night was a huge success and Marisa’s homemade fare impressed everyone—including her. As for the “adult” aspect of the Adult Dinner Party party, well, I’m not so sure we delivered. Perhaps in another 10 years we’ll nail that part.


*Wait! It’s not as bad as you might think. What happened was that I had come home one night and put little Puff in his hamster ball. Exhausted from my duties as an up and coming PR professional, I accidentally fell asleep while he was in there and woke up in the morning to find an empty ball (gasp!). Little did I know, my roommate had stashed deposits of rat poison around our flat after spotting a mouse in the kitchen one day. The rest is history. May our dear Puff rest in peace.


Watch a video of Marisa preparing the Red Snapper for the Ciappiono.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I Saw Flight of the Conchords! Live!

...and can confirm that Bret and Jemain are just as cute in person as they are on TV. I don't want to make you jealous or anything, but I think they were sending a secret message to me when they performed my favorite number: the Hiphop-Potamus Vs. Rhymenocerous rap. Yee-ah! Check it:

I'll have you know that:

"Their rhymes are so potent that in that small segment
they made all of the ladies in the area pregnant.
Yeah that's right, sometimes their lyrics are sexist.
But you lovely b*tches should know that they're trying to correct this."


Sunday, June 7, 2009


It’s all the rage these days. Everybody who’s anybody is doing it. If you’re thinking I’m talking about pairing American Apparel leggings with cute skirts, think again. I’m talking about funemployment.

As you’ve heard, my company closed down in February, and I’ve been freelancing ever since. Thanks to friends who sell fancy laundry products and build iPhone apps, I’ve managed to stay somewhat occupied.

Following are some things I’ve learned as a member of SF’s funemployed citizenship:

  1. If you ask nicely, the guy behind the counter at Pirat Cat Community Radio will trade you a shot of Bailey’s Irish Cream for a cup of coffee. Everybody wins…
  2. Do not rollerblade across the city in broad daylight and expect that your new freelance boss won’t see you aaaand call you out on your nerdy endeavor the next day when you go in for your first real meeting. Also assume that when you share this unfortunate story with your friends, they will all tell you the same rollerblading joke: “What the worst thing about rollerblading? Answer: having to tell your parents you’re gay.” Ugh.
  3. You can camp near the RRR resort in Guerneville for 1/3 the cost of staying in one of their kind-of-gross rooms. Aaand you can apply hustling techniques to competitive Taboo games resulting in a free mudslide from their infamous mudslide machine. No one suspects a team consisting of a little blond girl and a gorgeous drunk boy to be the fiercest in the land/at the pool. Well, I got news for ya, suckers: we are.
  4. Say yes when your friend with a hammock AND a hot tub asks you to house-sit for him. Olė!

I will continue to add to this list as my valuable learnings grow. Stay tuned…

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Guns N' Rosé

After having reached what may be the pinnacle of urban life as I know it (I got to jump in at the end of the SFC Double Dutch girls’ performance at the How Weird Street Fair!), I headed up to Dayle and Larry’s vineyard to "take in the countryside." Yeah, we’ll call it that…

While it’s always fun to kick it in Camptonville, this particular visit stepped it up a level. For starters, it was our host couple’s one-year wedding anniversary which, to be honest, had me kinda choked up. Just thinking about Dayle on her wedding day seems to do that to me. Maybe it’s the result of having traveled with this girl down the dating freeway for quite a while before she met Larry (to call it a road wouldn’t convey the amounts of adrenaline involved—even from the passenger seat). Or maybe it’s cause it felt really special, for lack of a better word, to be one of her bridemaids.

Who knows? But Dayle is not a fan of emoting so in her honor I’m stopping short before I start gushing about how happy I am for her. Instead, I'll share a little something I learned about married life en la casa de Dayle and Larry:

Not too long ago, our newlyweds were feeling kind of shameful about the fact that each of them occasionally likes to drink bottles of beer in the shower. Was that trashy? Then one day they saw an episode of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy where a straight guy’s bathroom was being evaluated for upgrade. Apparently, a beer bottle was discovered perched in his bath rack and the show hosts were appalled. Regardless of the response elicited by said bottle, its very existence validated for my friends that they were not alone. From that day on, Dayle and Larry drank their beer with confidence between shampoo and conditioner application.

Anyway, when Mr. and Mrs. Rodenborn aren’t drinking beer in the shower, they’re busy tending to their vineyard. This sometimes means trimming vines or upgrading the irrigation system, but every once in a while it means shooting loud guns to scare away grape-eating animals. On this particular visit, Larry decided that it was high-time the rest of us (e.g. Lauren and Lisa, who's pictured above) learned how to handle one of those guns. After all, you never know when another bear might hop the fence.

In the interest of limited emoting, all I’m going to say about this experience is that kick-back is no joke. Check out my first You Tube video ever to watch that gun teach me a lesson. It took many glasses of fancy rosė just to calm down afterwards.

Monday, June 1, 2009

A for Amigos

Full disclosure: Reassimilating to life in SF post-Bali wasn’t so easy for a multitude of reasons…and the monster case of jet lag didn’t help. A special thanks to all my pals—you know who you are—who earned an A for Amigo that week. Muah!
Luckily, when the going gets tough, the tough can hop a plane down to the OC where a ridiculously cute baby is waiting around for his favorite emergency contact to visit him. Just when you thought that Heb’s son couldn’t get any more adorable, he defied all rules of physics and out-cuted his former self. Are you ready to melt? If so, click here. Below is a preview, just so you’re not startled:

By design, we didn’t do all that much in the OC other than interview my poor sister, Alison, multiple times each day about Swine Flu via phone and email (which I prefer to call H1N1 since it makes me sound scientific). You see, we were wondering if we could go to Heb’s brother’s restaurant in LA or if we’d be exposing the baby to potentially fatal germs, which would make us poor chaperones to say the least.

'Ali, who's a public health expert for the CDC, gave us an official H1N1 response recommendation consisting of "just go, you guys." But we decided to hang out in the hot tub instead where we could catch up on US magazine and work on our tans. An additional incentive was not having to listen to Bing Crosby’s “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” on repeat for an hour (in April, no less), which, as you may know, is the only song that will keep this particular baby calm while confined to his car seat. Trust me.

'Just cause I’m really proud of Heb’s brother, Travis, I want to include this link to his restaurant, Gjelina, in Venice Beach—where he is also the head chef. Following is an excerpt from a glowing LA Times write up. I’m thinking that this reviewer must have visited Gjelina the last time Heb and I had brunch there. Note the reference to glamour girls who ain’t afraid to chow down. OMG, we're totally famous!

“Glamour girls in thin jersey dresses, guys in retro hats, the distinguished and the arty, the scruffy and the hard-working -- everyone's perched on vintage wood and metal stools. Forks dig into wood-oven-roasted baby artichokes or grilled white prawns in romesco butter. The tables are a wonderful mess of plates. This is a place where everything is meant to be shared. Nobody's just picking at their main course pretending to eat. They couldn't possibly. Not when the fare is this lusty and accessible.”