Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What y'all have been waiting to see

Christmas of 1991, I drove from Virginia to my dad's hometown in southwest Georgia. My dad fretted as he often does when I hit the road on my own. To alleviate his stress, I said that I would only drive to Durham alone. From there, I would follow my great aunt and her husband down to Georgia.

Thing is they planned to stay in Georgia less time than I did so I would be doing the drive home alone. I told my relatives that I would see how I felt when I got to Durham. If necessary, I would spend the night with these relatives and head out the next morning. The thing is that that the drive from my dad's hometown to Durham is something like seven hours. And I did at least half the drive in torrential rain. I stopped in Durham for gas and realized that if I didn't keep going, I would never make it home. I was near bone tired and operating on adrenaline. So another three hours later, I arrived home. I was hungry and tired. Tired won. I had no food at home and just didn't have the energy to go out to find some. I awoke the next morning in a pickle. Where were my keys? After a half hour of searching, I found them -- in the front door. That's when I realized just how tired I had been the previous evening.

The next time I took the trip was for Christmas 1997. That time I did the drive via Florence, South Carolina. (I had a friend back then who lived in Florence.) There was also supposed to be a stop in Savannah but my grandmother ended up in the hospital briefly. I felt that it was more important that I spend that extra time with her instead of exploring Savannah. One day I will finally get to Savannah, though.

But y'all don't want to hear about all that. Y'all want to hear about the tiara. First of all, let me say that it is real rhinestones. That thing has weight to it. When I arrived in Georgia, I was relegated to one of my usual family holiday duties -- gift-wrapping. As in, I wrap everyone's gifts except for the ones that are for me. (When I was in high school, my parents would pay me to wrap their gifts. My mother said that I have a way with odd-shaped packages.) My grandmother and my aunts had numerous packages that needed wrapping. Have I mentioned that my dad is one of ten children? My grandmother was not wheelchair-bound at this point so in the daytime, we would talk about food. Prior to her wheelchair days, I would have been helping her with the holiday baking like I did in 1991. At night I wrapped gifts into the wee hours of the night.

It all started that first night of gift-wrapping. I went digging through the bags of wrap and trim and found -- a tiara. My aunt explained the origin of the tiara -- some sort of pageant -- and I promptly set it upon my head. Every night I would pull out the tiara so that I could wear it while I wrapped gifts. Christmas Day it was decided that I should hand out the gifts. "But where is your tiara?" my aunt asked. I found it and put it on. And then handed out gifts and smiled for photos.

I had said during that visit that I would take the tiara home with me. I didn't. Perhaps I should go back for it. Because I've been practicing the hands and all so they don't seem so dead.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Blowing through the jasmine in my mind

My old place in San Francisco had jasmine all around the front door. (The tree limbs are the magnolia tree.) Now it only exists in my mind. With a bunch of other stuff.

I had a long chat with Zombie Mom after yesterday's post. I said, "Now you understand why I feel fat now." She said that I was just too skinny back in the day and that I look healthy now. Many family members have said the same thing. For years they had been telling me that I needed to gain weight. OK. So maybe my doctor was saying the same thing as well when I was in high school. I'm now at the weight he thought that I should be. (I just checked my BMI on a NIH site. Apparently I am now at the low end of the range for normal. My weight up until about five years ago was always in the underweight range. I knew this though.) So I guess Zombie Mom and I are struggling with opposite body image issues, but in some ways they're similar. We are both now at weights that others consider to be "healthy" but when you've spent most of your life outside of that range, it's hard to see what everyone else does.

I also talked to Zombie Mom tonight. One thing stuck in my mind from that conversation -- storytelling. When we were in college, Emerald used to tell me that I was a wonderful storyteller. I think it started with a chair. In the photo featuring the red mini and black boots, there is a chair to the left of me. That chair was a rocking chair. And for many years, my mother would sit in that chair, I would climb onto her lap, and she would read fairytales to me. This started long before I myself could read. By the time that I could, I had memorized many of the stories. One night at a college party, I entertained people with the retelling of some of these fairytales. I simply could not believe that they had never read Hans Christian Andersen -- my absolute favorite. I also took a class in college in African literature. The professor was really into the oral tradition in the tribes of Africa. It's the same in the African American community. Over the years, I have sat and listened while my elders -- my great grandfather (whose parents were born into slavery), my great aunts and uncles, my grandmother, whoever -- told their stories. And they all got stored away in my memory. Many of those people have now passed but their stories haven't. Whenever I am with family, I share their stories. Somewhere along the way I became the keeper of my family's history. I have also been doing research since about age 13 to see what is true. Perhaps one day I will write it all down. I worry. I have no children of my own. Who will keep the stories when I am gone? (And yes, perhaps this could have been a post on its own but I decided to throw this into the general hodgepodge of this post.)

I went into Tuesday with mixed feelings. A lot of folks, including some relatives, forgot my birthday on Monday. I also work with people who are nice but don't do anything for birthdays. It was the most anti-climatic birthday I have ever had. If it had been a "big" one, I probably would have been depressed. Oh yeah. I'm already kind of depressed so I'm not sure how that would have worked out.

My dad shared too much information with my mom on Monday when she called him. Now she's screaming stuff like, "I want my money back." This would be the money that she contributed to their joint finances when they were married. Have I mentioned that they have been divorced for over 30 years? I shared with my father the joys of caller ID. "When I don't feel like talking to her, I just don't answer the phone." Remember? She knows nothing about boundaries. That means that everyone else in her life must establish them. He also said that she doesn't really listen to people. I pointed out that those were my exact words to her last summer -- right before I called her a "fucking bitch." Because sometimes she really can be one. We care about her but she could really benefit from some therapy. There's only so much the rest of us can do.

Saturday night I'm heading out with the girls. I hope this will make up for what has been a rather blah birthday season thus far. OK. I did get that fabulous Kate Spade bag last week but that's not enough. One of my friends backed out of the dinner thing because I wouldn't allow her to bring her boyfriend (?) along. I don't know what the guy is at this point except that he is her baby's daddy. And I can say that because (1) they are not married, and (2) when she found out she was pregnant, he disappeared from the scene. He just returned late last year because now he wants to be a father. The kid will be three later this summer. Oh, and my first time meeting him? Kind of came off as a pompous ass. So I figured that I would be selfish. It's my party as the saying goes, after all. Having a guy around on a girls' night? Totally messes with the dynamics. Especially if it's some guy you don't even like. So yeah. My friend apparently now only goes out when he can join her. I told my therapist on Tuesday it just seemed weird to me. "I don't want to be in a relationship if it means that I can't have an identity that is separate from the other person. It just doesn't seem healthy."

For years my grandmother has been sending me a check for my birthday as well as Christmas. For years I have not been cashing those checks. I mean, she lives on Social Security. Instead I have been shredding them. My mother finally shared this with my grandmother after this past Christmas. Tuesday morning I called my grandma to thank her for the card that she had sent. (I have told my mother that I have never once doubted in my life that my grandmother loves me.) She told me that I was to cash the check and to treat myself to something this time -- perhaps gas in my car. I laughed and told her that her check would not fill the tank of my car but it would buy me dinner. As the day wore on, I remembered how Monday's dinner was so uneventful. That made me think of the shrimp at Gregoire. So I got home and ordered two entrees -- the shrimp and the curried lamb chops -- as well as my usual potato puffs. Now I have dinner for two nights. When I went in to pick up my order, the cook said, "Hi." And that got me thinking. Now that folks can recognize me on the street, perhaps I should lay off saying stuff about guys who I may meet in everyday life who I find attractive.

OK. Brain empty. Now I'm set to watch some TV and to read some more Dexter. Although tomorrow night is such the better TV night. Because hello. Season finale of "Farmer Wants a Wife." Hmmmm. I need to check when "I Love Money" starts so that I can be sure to add it to my DVR schedule. Oh, but tonight is a new episode of "Flipping Out." Cool. A reality show about featuring a person who has issues with boundaries. But I'm not related to him.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Through the ages

I don't know if y'all noticed but a couple of weeks ago I posted a photo of myself. And didn't take it down. First time in three years. Now I'm feeling all kinds of fearless. So now I take you through the evolution of an Empress. I had a hard time choosing photos since I didn't want to overload y'all. This is only about half of what I found. And maybe one day I'll post the photo of me in the tiara. But not today.

My parents have always called this my Stevie Wonder look.

I just couldn't choose -- kind of like the whole divorce thing -- so I knew that both had to be included.

My parents should have taken this as a warning. In my partygirl days, I loved to wear a mini with black knee boots. Don't ask about the rest of the accessories.

Disneyland with mom. Although you can't see her face, I think we both look cute as hell. Even if our clothing would have become one with our skin if it had caught flame.

My typical look in high school.

For a brief while in those days, I turned into something that now reminds me of The Breakfast Club. And yeah, there was a date stamp on the back of the photo. Apparently some time in the last half of my senior year of high school.

College days. The coat did not work with San Diego. My grandma was in the photo with me but I decided to edit her out. Especially since we were sitting across the street from the Bambi Club. My mother thought that this would be a funny photo given that my grandma is hardcore Pentecostal.

One of those perfect days. When I look at this, I feel the peace and ease that I felt that day all over again.

Or maybe I was just recovering in the previous photo since I know that this was from before that day.

I told y'all I used to party a lot. We thought that we were sassy as hell.

Father's Day in San Francisco -- 1995.

My uncle's funeral in 2001 -- right before I stepped on the ant hill.

Family reunion in Alabama in 2004. Sitting in the pool because there were ant hills around. And I remembered my last encounter with an ant hill.

The shocking thing for me is how many photos I found as I went digging through the box. Yes, I have a banker's box filled with photos. I have spent decades running from cameras. But if you want to see photos from my current decade, you're better off checking on other blogs. Because the number of photos for this decade are few and far between.

And why today of all days for this post? Because it's a kind of special day. The kind of day that makes me want to remember where I've been.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The definition of happiness

I've been doing a lot more reading over the last month or so than I have since ... Hmmmm. It would appear that the last time I did this much reading just may have been last summer.

I like to read mysteries but there's only so many dead bodies one can take in one week. Over the last couple of days I needed to switch over to some chick lit. No dead bodies and not a great deal of thinking to do. Or so I thought.

Nearing the end of the book, I came across this -- "...happiness is not getting what you want but wanting what you get..." I don't know about y'all but I had to let that one marinate for a bit.

How many times have we heard someone say, "I could be happy if only..." Oh, let's be honest. How many times have we said these words to ourselves? I know that I have too many times to count. I am also guilty of the variation -- "I can do these things once x, y, and z fall into place." Thing is those things rarely happen and so you end up in this continual holding pattern.

A few weeks ago, I questioned here what it meant to be living. That's because it's always been that happiness was this future thought. And now I'm starting to think that while I may occasionally think that here can suck at times, there is happiness as well. And it's time to start looking for it.

I love my job; it's my commute that gets to me at times. But my commute is going to improve before the end of this year since the company is going to move. I love coming home each night. Yes, Boris can be an annoying little arse. Then there are those times that I'll be reading a book and he'll curl up next to me. And then I remember why I put up with the other stuff. And it's not just my apartment. I love my neighbors, my neighborhood. I have a near impossible time imagining living anywhere else. And some days I am in absolute awe that the former nomad has managed to stay in one place for over three years now.

And then I think about the rest of my life. Sure I'm not dating anyone but I often have doubts that I'm the marrying type. Along the way, I have managed to assemble my own family though -- people whom I love and who I have never doubted love me. And some of them are y'all. The hard part has been in finding the balance between the family that I have created and the one that I was given by virtue of birth.

I do love my blood relatives; I just don't always like them. Probably because deep down inside, I like myself and just can't understand why they act like I should be someone else. I just don't like that person they seem to want me to be. Well, not quite my father. I know that he'd love for me to not be "his wild child" -- the person who can be brutally honest at times and who will do things like dancing because aren't we supposed to be having fun? My father almost never voices his displeasure to me though. He tells me that it's important to be true to ourselves because this is the only way that we can truly be happy. Who cares what other people think? You can't live your life for other people. I know it's cliche but it's so easy to forget along the way.

And so now I'm starting to think that this is all that it's supposed to be -- nothing more, nothing less. And you know what? "It's alright with me."

My new friend

Yesterday morning I got up and got dressed to go to work. Then I realized just how exhausted I was so I called in sick and went back to bed. I woke up around noon. I feel much better today.

Even more so because my new friend pictured above is on her way. Yep, it's that time of year again -- the Kate Spade sample sale. If I get enough loot during the next week, I'm going to pick up another bag that is part of the regular sale.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The trinity

There is a trinity for me that is necessary for OK mental health -- proper nutrition, adequate sleep, and some form of activity. By activity, I mean taking a walk, not necessarily going to the gym. With the trinity in place, I am much better at dealing with stressors in my life. Monday morning I was missing at least two of the trinity and I had had some stress hit on Sunday. Needless to say, I was not dealing well on Monday.

I got to work and realized that I just wanted to go back home, crawl into bed, and cry. Then I got up from my desk to get some caffeine so that I could get through the day. It seemed quite necessary since I was operating on three to four hours of sleep. Walking to the kitchen, I felt myself getting dizzy and for a brief moment thought that I was going to pass out. It was at that point that I realized that I was completely fried mentally and physically. All I could think was, "I don't want to talk to anyone. At all." It was one of those let-the-blue-envelop-you-like-a-comforter moments.

Lunch time hit and I toyed with the idea of skipping lunch -- because I sometimes do that. OK. Let's be honest. Most days I function on one meal a day -- lunch or dinner. It's rare that both happen. The days that I have both are the ones when I split my food from lunch over two meals mostly. But hey. My waist is getting smaller. I know that I can't function if two elements of the trinity are missing. So even though I felt nauseous, I forced myself to eat lunch. And when I got home, I had a dinner that was not composed of my lunch leftovers.

During the whole day, I toyed with post ideas even though I knew that I had written one on Sunday night that kind of summed up the stresses of Sunday. I wasn't really happy with all the various posts that I had written by Monday evening so I decided to combine them. And now we have this post.

I knew that Sunday was going to be stressful. Visits to my father's house almost always are. But for over a month, my dad's older sister had been telling me, "You know that you really need to do something special for your dad for Father's Day because he's under a lot of stress right now." And it wasn't enough that I was going up on Sunday morning. No, I needed to go up Saturday night and spend the night. I explained to her that I had an eye appointment Saturday afternoon -- and yes, they did dilate my eyes -- so I didn't think that driving on Saturday would be that advisable. She stopped just short of saying that I should change my appointment. Now mind you, this is the same woman who told me once my health benefits kicked in at my current job that I shouldn't go making appointments immediately even though some of them were overdue.

In the days leading up to Sunday, my father had shared with me how there might be other folks around besides him and my stepmother. Then he told me to not worry about feeding them because they had plenty of other food for those folks to eat. Because my stepmother's family and her friends like to drop by the house on holidays, as they always have, and expect to be fed. I guess I wouldn't mind the moochers much if I actually liked the people. But I don't. Over the past twenty-plus years they have barely hidden their disdain of me in the their looks, their tone of voice. Hell. A few years ago my stepmother gave me a huge lecture on how she didn't like how I greeted her mother. Something about how it is not sufficient to say "hi" and to wave from across a crowded room. (If you knew the old biddy -- ummm, my stepmother's mother -- you would think that I was doing a great job. My dad even asked the woman, "Could you shut the fuck up?" a few years ago.)

So I showed up and started cooking. Then the people started showing up. I was cooking enough for four. By the time, I was ready to serve the food there were five people present including myself. Then right as everyone was ready to start eating, a sixth person dropped by. And my stepmother's mother looked at me and said, "Well, you know if you just cut some stuff in half..." That was the point when some unkind words almost crossed my lips. I know that I rolled my eyes so hard that no one could have missed the expression on my face.

I probably could have let it roll off but then I got home and received a call from that boy. Oh, and by the way, I did go out with him again on Friday. So I figured that it wouldn't hurt to stop in the cafe around the corner from me. Apparently he hangs out there a great deal to avoid having to deal with his roommates at home. And then he informed me that he thought that we should be friends because he has decided to date someone else. Oh, and could I help him in looking for a new apartment since I was much more familiar with the area than he is? Yeah, I knew I was mentally toast at that point. That's why I decided to ignore his text message on Monday.

And so briefly for a while yesterday I toyed with simply writing the following as a post...

Memo to Self
Stop being such a fucking doormat. Because at the end of the day you just end up feeling like a worthless human being.

There was also a post about feeling like I'd been run over by a truck.

I think I'm going to spend a lot of time over the next week thinking about this whole dating and family stuff. Right now I just feel like I'm done with it all. Doesn't mean that I'm not not hitting the Kate Spade semi-annual sale though.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

... also known as the only reason why I'd be insane enough to go to Berkeley Bowl on a Sunday morning.

It all started because my father has been "hinting" that he'd like some osso buco for a few months already. But Berkeley Bowl didn't have any veal shanks so I improvised.

Artichoke stuffed with shrimp.

Salad of escarole with grapes and proscuitto-wrapped pears.

Braised lamb shanks with saffron risotto, and green beans with mint, pine nuts and white onion.

Unfortunately the double latte I just had in the last hour only gave me enough energy for the above. If I had more energy, I would tell you about the point in the evening when I almost lost it. At least my dad was appreciative; today, that's the only other person whose opinion matters. And while I do not have enough energy to write more, I also am a little too awake now to go to sleep. So I'm off to the kitchen to make a cocktail to counter the effects of the caffeine.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Thank you, Canada

Without those fine folks in Canada, this would not have been possible.

For quite some time, I have been hooked on the Persephone's Bees that they serve at Kitty's. Last night on my way home from work, I finally remembered to stop at BevMo to look for the key ingredient -- Pearl Persephone Vodka. (While mixing the drink, I checked out the bottle and discovered that it is a "Product of Canada.") And joy of joys, they had it. Oh, and in case you're wondering, Persephone's Bees is a mixture of Pearl Persephone Vodka, lemon juice, and honey. It went well with dinner.

Yes, I went with the duck.

Loved how the duck was cooked. The raspberry was a little too sweet for my tastes though. And I didn't get the joy of watching the guy cook because I had to get canned food for Her Royal Uppitiness and the Porn Star. (Some of you may refer to the pair as "Natasha and Boris." I live with them; I know their true selves.) And of course, while there I had to pick up the very necessary lemon juice.

I've always been against the whole moving to Canada thing because they have this thing called winter. But I think that the fine products from Pearl could help me get through that ugliness. I just don't know if Natasha will allow us to move.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Junk in the trunk

So Rachel posted this video a few months ago but I decided that it was worth another post.

It still cracks me up. Maybe because I've been reading too many Stephanie Plum books recently. And I could easily see some of the characters in those books in this video. (I must remember to thank Emerald for getting me hooked.) I will eventually be making my way through all of the other reading recommendations I have received over the past month or so. All I have to say is that I currently have something like ten books checked out from the library.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Summer in the PRB continues

So y'all have to know that at times I get almost obsessed with OKCupid. Over the last month or so, I have learned about this really cool feature they have -- QuickMatch. You put in some minimal criteria -- gender, dating status, location -- and then they randomly show you photos and profiles of folks who meet your criteria. You have to rate them on looks and personality based solely on this information. Oh, and on a scale of 1 to 5. If you give someone a 4 or 5, then they are told that someone has given them high ratings.

This is how I found myself on OKCupid yesterday. I was told that someone had given me a high rating in QuickMatch. If you choose to respond, they show you a series of folks. The person who gave you high marks will be randomly mixed into the group.

And that's how I came upon the guy whose photo I sent to a few of you yesterday. Apparently he gave me high marks, as I did him. As a result, he ended up sending me an email yesterday.

When I got home from work, he was online on OKC. (For those of you not in the know, OKC has it's own chat interface.) So I got an IM from him. And we chatted. We were supposed to try to meet next weekend. But he let it slip that he was at a cafe in my neighborhood. In fact it was about two blocks away. So I was supposed to email him about meeting next weekend or perhaps later in the evening. But idiot me closed the chat window without writing down his email address. Well, there was only one thing to do. I hightailed it on over to the cafe. You should have seen the look on his face when I showed up at his table.

Shortly after that we left the cafe and ended up at my bar. I had already warned him that it was my bar. When he went to the bar to get a second round from my bartender, my bartender made a point of telling him how cool he thought I am. The guy asked me if he needed to take my bartender into the street. The more and more that I think about it, I think that my bartender probably came off as a mixture of protective brother and slightly jealous guy. Well, at least that's what I get from the new guy's telling of the conversation they had. Then again, there has apparently been some bad blood between the two in the past. Something about my bartender having 'tude. Well, hell. He has 'tude most Friday and Saturday nights. Because idiots like to show up on those nights.

Back to the guy. There's a possibility that I'll go out with guy again. I say possibility because of the email I received. Seems I'm kind of cursed. Guys are frequently saying things to me like, "You deserve someone better than me." For some reason I have a way of coming off as this fragile little pure as the driven snow type. Y'all can stop laughing now. I know it's funny but it's not that funny.

I also haven't given up on Random Boy. Oh, and the first OKC Boy called last night. He wants to go out to a party his company is having tonight. (This was after I told him that I was not driving over to see him last night. And yeah, this would be when he called right after I got home from being out with the other guy.) I'll see.

Yep. I love the warmer months of the year.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Every other Friday, I go to get my 'do done. This is because I wear my hair pressed instead of chemically relaxed. A few years ago I came to the realization that my hair can only handle one chemical at a time. Kind of like the rest of me. And there was no way in hell I was going to give up my Clairol. When my hair gets longer, I just may give up on the pressing as well. Every now and then my hairdresser says, "You have such a nice wave pattern in your hair. We could do things with that." But my natural hair right now is a bit too short.

Oh yeah. I was going somewhere with this. Let me introduce you to the most recent member of my hairdresser's family. He was a Mother's Day gift to her. And one of the cutest things I have ever seen. He is a Maltese/Yorkie mix. Currently he is somewhere between 1-1/2 and 2 pounds. He probably will never weigh more than five pounds. But he has loads of spunk and heart. And perhaps a little slow on the uptake.

Whenever he was in trouble, he would come running to me. Just so that I could sell him out. Because I'm like that. You or me? Well you've got to go in a heartbeat. I won't even blink an eye thinking about it. I used to try to explain this phenomena to my students. They would say, "My friends have my back." You think? Just wait until you're in some serious trouble. "What? You mean if I talk first, I can skate on this? Let me tell you what happened..." It's all about self-preservation.

Then again perhaps my new friend will not come running to me the next time I'm in the shop. Maybe he will have learned that all so important lesson. Only trust folks as far as you can throw them.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Summer in the PRB*

Yes, I know how to read a calendar. Yes, I know it technically is not summer yet. But there are signs of it here in the PRB.

It started with the excess amounts of furniture along the curb. Every year the city sends out notices about how it's illegal to leave your furniture, and other stuff, on the curb. Every year in May, large amounts of furniture hits the curb. Usually it disappears within 24 hours or so. The sofa pictured? It's been there at least a week.

The next sign was that I no longer do the torturous search for parking. In fact, now there is often an abundance of "good" parking spaces. I know that come August I will hate the return of the students for this very reason.

Also it's been kind of warm around as of late. The kind of warmth that allows one to walk around with sleeveless stuff in the evenings. It's the kind of weather that reminds me of all those evenings last summer that my neighbors and I spent on the front stoop drinking wine and talking about whatever. (Well, with most of the women I talked about body image. And we discovered over the summer that many of us have had some serious issues with food.) If you are not familiar with the Bay Area, then let me just say that we cherish those kind of days. Until we return home to our apartments and houses that are not air-conditioned. Then we pray for fog.

And speaking of sleeveless evenings, Saturday night was the great dinner with Zombie Mom and Fluffycat -- in celebration of Fluffycat's birthday. After dinner, I dropped Zombie Mom at the taxi stand downtown. And of course at that point I was only a couple of blocks from my favorite spot. And the night was young.

The band for the evening was playing jazz. I ordered my usual from my bartender and headed for the small courtyard. Because one can smoke and drink there. I instantly ran into Random Boy (Emphasis on the "boy." We won't even get into the age of this one. Although I did threaten to trade him in for a younger model.) who was kind enough to pay for my drinks the evening of Zombie Mom's birthday celebration.

His first question? "Where are the leather pants?" I explained that the leather pants make limited appearances because they are dangerous. He then remembered some guy getting choked that same night. I explained why the guy got choked. Proof that the leather pants are indeed a dangerous thing. And Random Boy just might be around in the weeks to come.

And thus another sign of summer. The fact that there are boys around who are worthy of nicknames. If this past Saturday is any indicator, we're in store for a pretty wild summer.

On a completely different topic, I also came to another realization this morning. There seems to be some correlation with going out on the weekend and starting off Monday with feeling that I'm going to have a skinny week. (And back to Random Boy. You know you have no super ego when you start telling some guy that you think you're fat even though everything rational is telling you that it isn't true. His response? "Yeah, you're going to need to drop some pounds if you want to hang out with me." And when he said that, I was actually able to take it as a joke. Unlike my mother's comments.) But let's be real about the skinny week feeling. When I go out and party, I tend to eat less. Sure there is a lot of consumption of empty calories but still at the end of it all, I drop some pounds. And there was no puking involved in my weekend. Just to make sure y'all understand. So yeah, I will be getting up off my lazy ass a lot more and heading out. Like I used to.

And I'll keep you posted on Random Boy. It's been some time since I've hung out with a guy who's main interests are hunting, fishing, Nascar, and bourbon.

*PRB is the People's Republic of Berkeley.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Things to try

I received this list in an email from my dad today. Well, first he read it to me over the phone while I was driving home. In between squeals of laughter, I insisted that he forward it to me.

20 Ways to Maintain a Healthy Level of Insanity

1. At lunch time, sit in your parked car with sunglasses on and point a hair dryer at passing cars. See if they slow down.

2. Page yourself over the intercom. Don't disguise your voice.

3. Every time someone asks you to do something, ask if they want fries with that.

4. Put your garbage can on your desk and label it 'In'.

5. Put decaf in the coffee maker for 3 weeks. Once everyone has gotten over their caffeine addictions, switch to espresso.

6. In the memo field of all your checks, write 'For smuggling diamonds'.

7. Finish all your sentences with 'In accordance with the prophecy'.

8. Don't use any punctuation.

9. As often as possible, skip rather than walk.

10. Order a diet water whenever you go out to eat, with a serious face.

11. Specify that your drive-through order is 'To Go'

12. Sing along at the opera.

13. Go to a poetry recital. And ask why the poems don't rhyme?

14. Put mosquito netting around your work area and play tropical sounds all day.

15. Five days in advance, tell your friends you can't attend their party because you're not in the mood.

16. Have your co-workers address you by your wrestling name, Rock Bottom.

17. When the money comes out the ATM, scream 'I Won! I Won!'

18. When leaving the zoo, start running towards the parking lot, yelling,'Run for your lives! They're loose!'

19. Tell your children over dinner, 'Due to the economy, we are going to have to let one of you go.'

20. And the final way to keep a healthy level of insanity... Send this e-mail to someone to make them smile. It's called ... therapy.

At my first real job, I was frequently guilty of #9. Also, the hallway had alternating black and white tiles. Sometimes instead of skipping, I'd play hopscotch down the hall. This would be the same job at which whenever I proclaimed, "I think I'm losing my mind," the benefits manager would respond, "How can you lose something that was gone long ago?"

People are always asking me at work where my inbox is. I don't have one. So #4 is sounding pretty good as well.

#3 sounds pretty good as well. But would the variation of, "Do you want to supersize that?" work?

Also I've been meaning to decorate my office. I think #14 is just the theme I have been wanting.

Why did my dad think of me when he read this list? "You're about crazy enough to do most of these things."

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Blending in, of sorts

Just a bit of a warning. This post is a little bit of everything...

Third Street in San Francisco is a curious place. It makes some of my co-workers afraid, kind of like the effect that 23rd Street in Richmond has for some people. But me? Well, I kind of blend, so why worry?

And that's how I found myself at the Hard Knox Cafe on Friday for lunch. Those photos I took last week? China Basin. The quickest was from where I work to China Basin is to cruise along Third Street. And I've done that drive to China Basin a few times. (I probably won't be doing it anymore since I got home on Friday to find my notary commission in the mailbox.) Folks always ask me how I find restaurants. Well, when I'm doing drives like that, I keep an eye out for anything interesting. In this case, it turned out to be the Hard Knox. And this last time I remembered to do a Google search on them. And then I mentioned it to the receptionist at work. She had been there several times and highly recommended the place. I was intrigued. She also told me that I couldn't go wrong with anything smothered. And to ignore the comments on Yelp. The fried chicken was OK -- while the dark meat was moist the white meat was dried out, in her opinion. Hell. Loads of places make great fried chicken. The mark of a good soul food place is the other stuff they serve.

I went with the smothered pork chops. The problem was deciding on sides so I went with three, paying for the extra -- collard greens, yams, and mac & cheese. The mac & cheese reminded me of my stepmother's. Well, the stuff she would have made back when she could cook. It had that taste of Velveeta. Sorry, but my grandmother (my mom's mother) makes hers with sharp cheddar. Two different tastes. That was the only fault -- sort of. I worried that there would not be any vinegar in the greens but I tasted a subtle version of that tang. Thankfully I had asked for hot sauce. The addition of some Crystal's made the greens perfect in my mind. (This may be due to the fact that I am used to my daddy's greens. And he always cooks his with peppers.) The yams? Sometimes I hit some undercooked sections but that just proved to me that they were not from a can. Finally, the pork chops. I was able to cut into them with a plastic fork. And long after the meat was gone, I found myself digging around in the remaining gravy with hopes of finding more meat. Who would have thought that two pork chops were not a sufficient serving? Oops. I just remembered that I did not mention the cornbread muffins. Sublime. Those pork chops and muffins will keep me coming back.

While I may not have "blended" with the diners in the packed restaurant, I definitely "blended" with the folks I saw along my way back to the office. There was also that sense of pride in seeing how Third Street today looks so much more prosperous than it did ten years ago when I first started driving along it on a fairly regular basis. But the blending thing? Well, there were no weird looks that said, "Girl. What the hell you doing around here?" Instead it was a feeling of belonging.

Ooo. I just had a flash of the president of my company who sometimes refers to me as "girl." But I guess it doesn't bother me too much because I've also gotten used to him referring to his own as "crackas." Oh, and Friday was the meeting at the conference room at the hotel that I had set up. When I went there to see that everything was OK, all the guys present -- yes, they were all male because I work in construction these days -- told me how they had heard how I was so good from the president. And that's just what I needed to hear right now. Because when you give a lot of yourself to other people, it's nice to hear every now and then that they appreciate your efforts. And my current job? Probably part of the reason why I like working there so much is that they have no problem in telling me how much they appreciate my effort. And it's been a long time since I've heard it.

So Friday was a good day indeed.

Awww. Let's be honest. I went to therapy tonight and the therapist said how I seemed to be doing much better since the last session. He still thinks I need weekly one-on-one though. I talked about my family and told him that I had not told them that I was in therapy once more. Because the last time? Each week my mother would ask, "Did you talk about me? What did you say about me?" And then I explained to the therapist how I understand why my mother acts in this way. I go to therapy because she won't. For this whole thing to work for us, at least one of us needs to go to therapy. Oh, and then there's my dad's side of the family. They don't have mental health issues. Uh huh. That's why they don't need to do the therapy thing. Just look at my dad. He's the former recovering alcoholic who didn't understand why he had to go through all 12 steps. Sure it took him over 20 years to fall off the wagon but still. Maybe next time I'll tell the therapist that I have always dreamed of the day when I would never have to ask either parent for a little extra cash to tie me over until the next payday. With my new position, that day may have finally come. I just wonder if my parents realize this. Because I swore to myself years ago, that I would walk away from my crazy ass family if I didn't need them financially. Self-preservation and shit.

Evidence of how fucked up these people can be? Growing up, I regularly heard, "I don't understand how people like you so much," or some variation on that. Perhaps my parents, with their twisted senses of humor, meant it to be funny. Guess what? This is not the kind of shit one should say to a teenager. Maybe it's because I can read people pretty well, though, and know what is the socially acceptable thing to say in a given situation. When your father's boss is ranting on about a particular issue, do you disagree with him because that's how you really feel? No. You keep your mouth closed and nod your head in agreement. Fuck my parents and their various proclamations. I was a good kid. I waited until I was legally an adult to start acting like my real self.

And this time I even remembered to mention my food issues. I know that Zombie Mom is glad to hear that. The therapist told me that it was one of the few coping mechanisms that I have left. Well, unhealthy ones, that is. (And haha. The idiot didn't even seem to realize how he had been played. My appointment was at six this evening. I had had half a bagel with cream cheese and three cups of tea the whole day. Sucka! And no, Zombie Mom, you do not have to stage an intervention or anything. I ate yesterday. Two full meals. It's just that today I was "fat" as a result of those two meals.) So he recommended some places to me. It seems that Thrive will only let one do individual therapy once every three weeks. What's up with that? He encouraged me to Google the places on his list. I'm kind of leaning toward the place that uses this. And for a minute or two, I tried to be like my dad. But I still remember the therapist saying right before I left, "And you know some people need to do therapy for a year or two." Hell. I already did one year previously. How much more do I need? Maybe I don't need therapy. Maybe I just need more smothered pork chops ... Nah. I need both.

Monday, June 2, 2008


Late Sunday afternoon, I realized something. I basically survived on liquids the entire weekend. No, I do not mean alcohol but there was plenty of that. I mean fruit juice and soup. Perhaps this is why instead of feeling like a beached whale, I was actually having what could be the start of the "skinny week." (I know I've mentioned it before but I don't feel like digging through my archives. If you're new around here, I mean the one week during the month during which one is not retaining water.) I am just happy that it coincided with the party.

My plan was to cook up a beef roast. There would be no need to leave home because I had everything, or so I thought. There was no horseradish in the fridge. How did I let this happen? Horseradish comes in second to having at least four types of mustard. I always have horseradish. Except for Sunday.

I briefly thought of having the roast without the horseradish but that seemed perfectly ridiculous. And so ended my self-imposed hibernation/recovery. I guess the hard part was my new resolve to once more walk to places instead of doing so much driving. And then I had to convince myself that it was better to go to the lower-priced store that was a little bit farther away. (On my way home, I suddenly remembered why I had originally thought of going to the closer, more expensive place. I dished out the last of the canned cat food in the cabinet Sunday. This means that I will definitely have to go tonight.) And on my way home, a couple of things popped into my head -- bacon and puff pastry.

That's right, peeps. It's June and Gregoire has a new menu. Ecuadorian shrimp wrapped in bacon and puff pastry.

I patiently waited at the counter for my food. While waiting, I heard some awful words being spoken to the cashier. "There are only two more orders of the shrimp." Thank goodness I got there when I did. I have been dreaming of the shrimp since I read the June menu on Friday. Oh, and let me admit my other fascination with Gregoire. The guy who works the grill in the front? Kind of cute. And do you know how hot it is to see a cute guy cooking several dishes at once? Rates right up there with being in a room of hot male firefighters.

Woo. I'm going to grab something cool to drink. And I'll be back with more food adventures. And maybe tales of therapy since I have an appointment this week.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Empress does the burbs

Anyone who knows me well knows my feelings about suburbia. So what would make me head into the burbs on a weekend? One word. Firefighters.

Firefighters will make me do all kinds of thing. I did not demonstrate my limits though. If they had asked? Oh hell yeah.

There is a firefighter who reads to Jade's kids each year. And each year he throws a party for his birthday. A house party with a DJ. Just let that marinate a bit. And he invites his coworkers. Basically it is a houseful of hot men with some good music and hell of a lot of alcohol.

Now since Jade is married, she feels it is her duty to find me a man when we go out to occasions like this. We arrived at the party close to 10 and Jade said that we would need to leave around midnight. What the hell? Fortunately the boy whom Jade had picked out lived near the place where I had left my car. Yeah, I talked to him. He had escaped to the living room because the music was a little too loud for him. So we played pool. (Yes, there was a pool table in the living room.) Jade left and the firefighter boy gave me a ride to my car. No phone number exchange or anything though.

So I stopped at my fave bar on my way home. My bartender said that he could make me one drink since they had just had last call. I told him that I didn't need a drink. I really didn't. I just stopped in to say hi. And to pee. There was no way possible I was going to make it all the way home.

And today? My head is killing me. I need to rehydrate. But for the first time in weeks, I had fun over the weekend. Now I'm going to look at the random photos I took last night.