Tuesday, July 31, 2007


And I mean this literally. I just returned home from my ever so fun oral surgery. The upper right side of my face is numb. Even my eyelid is numb. Such a weird feeling. Being the freak that I am, I asked to see the cyst after the surgery was over. It was about the size of a gumball.

I need to do laundry sometime. Just not today. I've popped a vicodin. I figured that I should start the painkillers before the numbness wears off. Next on my schedule is some really good coma sleep.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Sweet tooth

Saturday I headed to Poulet once more. They had this wonderful salad of spicy eggplant and blue lake beans. Yet another combination I would not have imagined. And although I still had carrot cake in the fridge, I just couldn't resist.

Challah bread blueberry bread pudding.

It was light and airy. There was also the surprise of occasionally hitting a pocket of custard. Basically it was bread pudding just the way I like it.

Perhaps today I will finally make it to Cafe de la Paz because they've been advertising summer seafood specials. And the thought of crab enchiladas is very tempting.

And now for something completely different...

Lisa B gave me the following award.

And now it's my turn to pass it on to five others.

1. Jill, my twin.

2. BWB, who has earned my admiration for managing the mammal menagerie with such style.

3. Hilly because how could you not love her snarkiness?

4. Heather B. who sometimes reminds me of a younger me.

5. Oh crap. This is hard because there are so many of you out there. OK. Guess I'll go with Rach. She's been taking a break but rumor has it that she'll be back soon. Love her poetry.

Believe me when I say it was difficult selecting a mere five. All of you are rockin' in my book.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

My hood

I know I normally post quizzes on Saturdays but then I came across this wonderful little video about my neighborhood on TurnHere.

Enjoy while I try to figure out what I will be eating today.

Friday, July 27, 2007

On a happier note

Before yesterday's bad news, I had a plan. So after the news, I curled up on the futon in front of the TV with my comforter. Because I needed to compose myself to continue with my plan.

Poulet has daily specials that last for a month. Since yesterday was the last Thursday of July, I had to go and get the Thursday special if I hoped to taste it.

Chicken breast with goat cheese, basil & pine nuts served with sauteed French lentils and blue lake beans.

BWB and I had a long conversation about the chicken before I got it. Would it be a boneless breast and rolled? Or would it have the stuffing placed under the skin?

It was boneless -- and quite delicious.

Yep. No more cooking of chicken for me.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The evil C

I spent this morning looking at a used car with my mother. She had tried to call my dad before we went to the dealership to get his opinion on the car but couldn't reach him. I told her that perhaps he was at the doctor's.

He was. With my stepmother. It seems that the tumors on her lung and liver have grown and she needs to resume chemo. The doctor wanted to start today. She's waiting until next week to start.

Apparently she also forced the doctor to get really honest. And now she's really depressed. The doctor told her that with the type of cancer that she has, he would usually say that the person has about 18 months. My stepmother pointed that it's been six months already.

Once more nothing in my fridge is looking too appetizing so I think it's time to head out for more stuff. Besides next week I have my oral surgery and I probably will not be able to eat too much for most of the week.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Proceed with caution

Since my days of lazing around are probably coming to an end soon, I figured it was definitely time to get motivated on the food front.

I know realize that the carrot cake is only available on Mondays. I got two slices this time. And it went really well with the pannacotta gelato I picked up on Saturday.

Carrot cake goodness.

For quite some time, I have wanted to try Gregoire's, especially after reading the ladies over at Two Hungry Bears and a Lazy Tapir. I decided to do dinner since I'm not really a sandwich fan. (Of course, that chicken salad sandwich I got at Poulet last Friday was divine.) I think the reason why I have avoided Gregoire's is that there just always seem to be too many choices on the menu. I have also been afraid of becoming addicted to the place.

I settled on the lamb loin in pastry with tomato and pesto.

Because I am such a pig, I also got the deep fried shrimp with black bean sauce.

And because I love potatoes so much, I got both the puffs that were divine ...

and the scallop potato & truffle.

I was about to leave when I noticed another recommendation.

Sam, you can wash down the yummy food at Gregoire with a Fizzy Lizzy.

Cookiecrumb, do not worry. I did not eat all of this food. In fact, I have lots of yummy leftovers for today. And the cake? I can only eat about half a piece at a time.

Between Poulet and Gregoire, I may never cook again. Needless to say, I went into a food coma last night. Now where to next?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Back to the trenches

So it looks like I may be returning to work soon. I finally heard from my old job. It seems that they are thinking about two different positions at this point. This means one more meeting. One position is in my old job at a different center. The other position is as a floater. The meeting is with the woman to whom I would report if I were to take the floater position. So many choices.

The thing is that I've started to enjoy not working. And there are so many restaurants that I have been wanting to try out. I guess I'd better get off my butt and start eating.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

My own kind of Prozac and Xanax

After yesterday's adventures, I decided that I was more than deserving of treats. After my brief stop at home, I knew I deserved a trip to Poulet.

There wasn't any carrot cake but there was lime curd tart.

After the hair appointment, I came home and chatted with friends on the phone while catching up on some TV viewing. Then I realized just how tired I was and decided a nap was in order. I set the alarm clock for 11 p.m. By 11:30 p.m. I was toddling down the street so that I could get in line. You should have seen the look the cats gave me as I was heading out. Because they were still sleeping by the front door. Poor things.

By 12:15 a.m., I was back home with my book.

Then lunchtime hit today and I was not thrilled with the selection of food in the fridge. I wanted gelato and the only place to go, in my book, is Gelateria Naia.

After sampling seven or so flavors, I ended up with a pint of cardamom and a pint of pannacotta. Pure heaven.

Luckily I remembered before leaving home that one of the corner markets had added a food area that included one of my favorites, Khana Peena, as well as Su Casa Mexican and Blimpie's.

Rice, saag aloo (spinach with potato), chicken tikka masala, and naan.

And finally for Jill ...

One day Boris may finally learn to stop putting himself in such strategically weak positions. Natasha moved so quickly that I was unable to capture it.

Oh, and what the heck. One for Jolene as well.

I love the windows on this building.

And now I need to get back to my reading.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Life with the Drama Queen

I decided to be nice and to call the Drama Queen (aka the woman who gave birth to me) this morning around 6:30 a.m. to see hear her reaction to the earthquake. (The cats and I are just fine. Natasha ran around like crazy and then looked at me as if to say, "You crazy fool. Why aren't you running for your life. Boris hid out somewhere.) Big mistake. What I thought would be a five to ten minute phone call turned into a half hour call. There was a great deal of discussion on the topic that Drama Queen was not feeling well. I told her to call her health care provider.

About an hour or so later she called back for something else. She was still complaining about not feeling well. I once more repeated the phone number for her health care provider and told her to call them. The last time I checked, I am not a doctor. I'm not even a nurse.

Around 9:45 a.m. the drama queen called once more to say that she had called the HMO. They wouldn't give her an appointment because they wanted her to come to the emergency room. Huh? During the previous phone conversations, I had figured that in the worse case she had bronchitis. It seems that she chose to tell the advice nurse that her primary symptom was chest pain. Well of course, they wanted her to come into the emergency room.

I could see my previous plans for the morning quickly slipping away. Watching "House Calls" at 10? Nope. Picking up lunch from Poulet before heading to my hair appointment? Nope. And I really needed that carrot cake.

Part of me figured that she was just being overly dramatic. But then there was that little part of me that kept saying, "What if you're wrong? Won't you feel bad if something really bad happens to her?" That second question? Bet you'd get a different answer if you were to ask me that now.

So I dragged myself up, threw on some clothes, brushed my teeth and headed on over. Did I mention that it is usually a 20 minute drive to my mother's house? This gives one lots of time to stew. Topics such as why didn't she call someone who lives closer to her. But then that just seemed too logical. When I was two minutes away, my phone rang. "Where are you?" So she hadn't died while I was trying to get there.

She was standing in the driveway when I pulled up to the house. See? Really sick. The first words out her mouth upon entering my car were, "I tried to call a couple of neighbors before I called you but they weren't available. Also it's the hospital being dramatic, not me." I was probably glaring by this point. That's why I'm guessing I received this unsolicited explanation. My thought at the moment was, "She'd better be really sick." She also made some proclamations about what kind of treatment she wanted. "I'm not taking an inhaler."

I dropped her off at the emergency room and then went to park the car. Waiting in the emergency room gave me the opportunity to start reading The Poe Shadow. Eventually she came out of the exam room with a pissed off look on her face. It seems that they determined that she was not an emergency and had referred her to her regular doctor.

"Why couldn't they just finish everything here?"

"Perhaps because you are not an emergency."

I should have mentioned the guy they wheeled back into the exam area who had been complaining about chest pain. Now he looked like he was having a heart attack.

She arrived at the doctor's office and was immediately sent off. They wanted x-rays and blood work done. More grumbling. Then my favorite part.

"Where is radiology and the lab?"

"Ummm. Wasn't this your main facility? You don't know where it is?"

Did I forget to mention that Drama Queen used to work for this particular health care provider? Well, she did. What's more she worked with the design team and this particular location had been one of her main assignments.

I escorted her to the lab and told her I would be back. It was about 11:30 and my stomach was trying to digest itself. Not a pleasant feeling. I also needed to call to reschedule my 1:00 hair appointment.

When I returned, I waited for her outside of the doctor's office. She then started a tirade about having had to go to three different places in the morning. OK. Deep cleansing breaths. She then mentioned having to pick up a prescription.

"Which pharmacy?"


"To which pharmacy did the doctor call in the prescription?"

"I don't know."

"Go ask."

As it turns out, the doctor hadn't called in the prescription yet. I asked that he call it into the less congested pharmacy. While we waited, the grumbling continued.

"He wanted to give me robitussin with codeine. I told him that I wasn't taking anything with codeine in it since it makes me constipated. He also wanted to give me an inhaler. I told him that I only would take the inhaler."

After some time, her prescription still wasn't ready. I told her to go to the desk to see if it had been called in. It had -- at the other pharmacy. More grumbling as we made our way there. Finally it was ready -- and it contained two other things besides the inhaler. She returned two after the consultation with the pharmacist and then stated, "If you weren't in such a rush, I'd go back up there and curse that doctor out." Thank goodness for my appointment.

I drove out of there as quickly as possible. The whole ride was her screaming about every wrongdoing that she perceived in her visit while I thought, "Shoot me now."

So now I am off to my hair appointment finally. And I am busy trying to make plans for myself for during the next week because I am going to have to start telling the Drama Queen "no" if I hope to remain sane.

Jen, I might need a lawyer soon.

Wednesday night proved to be just a preview for the insanity that is my mother. I went to pick her up at 11 a.m. yesterday to take her to the DMV. We decided on this time at 8:30 a.m. She was not ready when I showed up. I should have taken this for a sign.

We got to the DMV and she quickly received her number. She then started to complain that she had a tickle in her throat and would I be a dear and run to the store for something for it. By this time my face was throbbing, but more about that later.

All in all, the trip to the DMV took about an hour. At this point, she announced that she was hungry. I knew that this would mean a trip to Panda Express. I don't know how a woman who enjoys stuff like sweetbreads and escargot can find pleasure in that place. But she does. At least she didn't suggest Hometown Buffet, another one of her favorites. I like an idiot took her to the one in El Cerrito instead of the one in Pinole. Because beckoning across the parking lot was Ross. Then again, if we had gone to Pinole, then she would have insisted on stopping at Target or some other place. I found a pair of jeans at Ross; she got nothing. By now my face was really throbbing. And I was becoming drowsy from her endless prattle, my eyes having glazed over at least an hour earlier. Really. There were times when I wondered if she was even breathing.

Finally I was able to ditch her around 2 p.m. -- just in time for my doctor's appointment. This appointment was to hopefully receive a referral to a specialist.

I went to the dentist recently and found out that an old problem had returned. Ever since high school I have had this cyst that likes to reappear. It's located in the bone in the upper right area of my mouth. I was referred to the an oral surgeon. He's determined that it is time to do surgery once more as the bone loss has now almost met up with my sinus. In the meantime, I am pumping down antibiotics to fight the infection. And fighting the urge to down handfuls of the vicodin he was also so kind as to prescribe.

While I was out getting throat lozenges for my mother, the office manager from the oral surgeon's office called. It seems that my surgery is not covered under my dental insurance but it probably would be under my medical insurance. That means that I now need a referral from a doctor -- specifically, an ear, nose and throat doctor. I immediately called my provider to set up an appointment with my primary care. Because of course, I can't go to see ear, nose, and throat without a referral from my primary care. So that's what yesterday afternoon's appointment was about. Getting that referral. So now I'm just waiting to hear from the specialist. Which should be soon as I stressed to the primary care person that I am currently in a great deal of pain.

Oh, and the funny thing is that the nurse practitioner asked me if I was stressed when I got there. Ummmm. Yeah. Just spent hours with my mother. She asked if my mother was unable to do things herself? My answer? "Physically? Ummm. No."

Please let me survive the weekend. Because I can't avoid my mother since Sunday is her birthday. (Being a good daughter, I will be taking her out to brunch.) I do plan to spend Saturday reading the new Harry Potter. Hopefully with cats purring nearby.

For now I am taking relaxation lessons from Boris and Natasha.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Already starting

Last night my mother arrived. She had called me in the afternoon to let me know that her flight would be two hours late. It was almost 10 p.m. by the time we left SFO. I am used to lounging in front of the TV by that time these days. And then I had to stop for food because she was hungry. Do you know what's open at 11 p.m.? Not much.

It was about midnight by the time I got home. It is no more than a 15 to 20 minute drive home and in that time my mother had managed to call twice. Arggggh!!! This was after she talked non-stop on the drive to her house from the airport. And it's not like I don't talk to her on a regular basis when she's in Mexico because I do.

This morning she waited until 8:30 a.m. to call. More whining. It seems that there is a pipe leaking somewhere in the wall. We realized this last night after I turned the water back on. So now she's freaking out and begging me to call the insurance people on her behalf. Her latest proclamation is that at her age, she can no longer take stress. I wanted to tell her that she creates the stress. Yes, there have been issues with the house in Mexico but she chooses to make them into a huge drama.

I'm not sure how long I can be patient with her. And she's here until October. Wish me luck. Now? I have to go take her to the DMV to renew her license. Because her car is not running, but we knew that before she arrived.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Summer reading

Most of my reading this summer has been young adult fiction. I started off with some fluffier stuff but over this weekend turned to books that were more thought-provoking -- the kind of books I like to teach in the classroom.

The first book of this type was Messenger. I had been meaning to pick this one up for some time but just kept forgetting to. I first read (and taught) The Giver my first year of teaching. It's one of those books that gets even the most reluctant reader completely involved. Because they just have to know how at all ends. The next year I was discovered to read that Lois Lowry had written a companion book, Gathering Blue. I thought it was all going to end there and then I discovered Messenger. The Giver is about a society in which people do not feel any of the unpleasantness of life. Well, everyone except for one person -- the Giver. It is this person's job to be the receptacle of all emotions for the society. Gathering Blue is about a society in which those who are seen as being weak are cast away. We see a bit of the society in Messenger in Gathering Blue. The world of Messenger is one of acceptance and knowledge. But something has happened and now the townsfolk want to close their borders to outsiders.

These three books always make me think of that need to conform. Who defines what is the norm? What happens to those who fall outside of the norm? What makes us decide who should be allowed and who shouldn't?

So I had all of this kind of stuff swimming around in my head when I started to read Uglies. Obviously I was in one kind of mood when I was shopping. So now I have new questions added to the previous. What makes someone pretty? While we strive for conformity, do we really want a world in which everyone is more or less exactly the same? There were some other questions but that would give away some of the surprises in the books. Needless to say, I enjoyed this book so much that yesterday I went to the bookstore to pick up the rest of the trilogy.

And next maybe I'll get around to some "grown-up" reading. That is after I read the final Harry Potter this weekend.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

In Mexico

My mother shared one of her discoveries about living in Mexico with me years ago. Apparently a lot of people do not have ovens. Those who do use them for pot and pan storage. This might be why so many of my mother's friends there marvel over her sweet potato pie, although I have yet to taste a better one myself. Because most people go to the bakery for pies and cakes. Case in point. I recently emailed my mother a recipe for tres leches cake that I had come across. Her response was that she didn't need to know how to make it because she knew a great bakery at which she could purchase it.

This idea of buy it rather than cook it yourself extends to other things but the main thing that comes in mind is roasted chicken. For many years, I prided myself on my roasted chicken. Friends would oooo and aahh over the blend of herbs I used for seasoning. (Don't ask what they were. They usually depended upon what was on hand and my mood so the recipe was never exactly the same each time.) But the best part of roasting a chicken? It's a relatively easy way to impress others. Then my mother came back from Mexico one summer and promised to make some green chicken enchiladas for me. (I love the green sauce that she makes. Sometimes she makes a jar or two for me before she leaves. If only I could talk her into making albondigas once more.) I thought it was going to be a long process because she needed to roast a chicken first. Shows you what I know. Nope. Her enchiladas are made from a rotisserie chicken acquired at a deli. Gasp! Now I think it makes sense. I often don't want to eat roasted chicken. What I want is a dish, like chicken hash, that I can make from the "leftover" bird.

Yesterday I needed to get out of the house to head to the post office. There are two post offices within near equal distance to my apartment. The one I went to last week enables me to walk past Gelateria Naia -- a stop I still haven't made this summer. (I still have vague memories of the Mojito flavored gelato I had last summer. And the chai. And the champagne. And, and... You get the point. They let you have samples before ordering.) The other route would mean passing a place I have been meaning to try, Poulet. The Poulet route won out because it was getting to be dinnertime and suddenly the thought of something involving chicken was at the top of my mind.

I went with the Lemon, Garlic, and Rosemary.

And then I decided that I may as well try some of the side dishes as well.

Saffron Pearl Pasta Salad.

Vegetable Medley.

Macaroni and Cheese.

And what the hell. I needed dessert as well.

Carrot Cake.

Conclusion? It may be a long time before I roast another chicken. And I'll be needing more carrot cake soon. And I think I'm going to need some vanilla bean gelato to go with the cake the next time.

Monday, July 16, 2007

End of da funk?

So this weekend I was able to get past that funk I've been in and actually made it out the door. Woohoo!

I started with baby steps on Friday by taking Boris to the vet's for the rest of his shots. Thankfully it was Boris and not Natasha since Boris is always ready to go. Apparently the only ugly moment is when he growled at the folks at the clinic while they gave him his pedicure. They can stick a thermometer up his ass -- no sound. Give him several shots -- once more, no sound. But try to trim his claws? You would think that someone was trying to kill him. Natasha, on the other hand, takes offense starting with the temperature taking. Her reaction is completely, "You want to put what where? I don't think so." Maybe I should spend my spare time stitching up a little leather outfit for Boris. I still think we can get him film work in Berlin.

After I dropped the porn star off, I went to Pet Food Express, a locally owned pet supply store. Their shelves had even less of B&N's brand of choice. Why? Because these folks pulled anything that might contain ingredients from outside of the U.S. I told the sales guy that Natasha likes her wet stuff chunky and so he recommended some stuff. All seafood. Also not the "indoor cat" formula kind of stuff that I prefer. I didn't buy any because I'm not really ready to go back to extra stinky poo.

And then I decided that I deserved a reward for leaving the house. Across the parking lot from the store was an Everett and Jones spot. I temporarily forgot myself and asked for the sauce on the side. Their meat is OK but it definitely needs the sauce. Not like KC's where the meat is so well-seasoned that the sauce is optional. Then again, E&J's is known for their sauce. My ideal world would be KC's meat with the E&J sauce. And the best part? Boris was at the vet's so I didn't have to worry about a cat begging for food while I enjoyed my BBQ.

Friday was the trial day because I knew that I had to head out on Saturday. Saturday was a birthday party for a woman who had attended my party. She had been calling me daily throughout the week to make sure that I would attend. I was a wee past fashionably late after stopping at Body Time to pick up the China Rain pack as her gift. OK. It was more like extreme CP time. The party started at 4:00. I showed up around 6:00. But I looked really cute, wearing some of the new stuff I picked up during my shopping spree.

I was feeling pretty up on my way home but still couldn't find the energy to go out. Probably because it was one of those kind of nights during which I felt I needed a partner in crime. And I don't have one anymore. My old partner, Grasshopper, did call on Saturday. She wanted me to keep her company while she packed up stuff. (She is moving to a new place with her boyfriend.) I brought along a book and we listened to classic disco and talked. When she was finished, I dropped her off at her boyfriend's job.

Strange thing about getting out of the house. Suddenly I didn't want to go back. It was getting to be about dinnertime and I wasn't thrilled with any of the choices in my fridge. I thought of plenty of places where I could have stopped but none sounded appealing. Then I had a brainstorm. I picked up the phone and called Buzzgirl. About a half hour later I found myself in the Mission to meet up with Buzzgirl for dinner at Esperpento. The only things that were the same were the calamari and the sangria. The chorizo were tasty and cute. (They were the size of those little cocktail franks that folks served in the 70s.) And the clams were swimming in that perfect blend of butter and garlic. Buzzgirl correctly surmised when the dish hit the table that we would be needing more bread. We ordered the patatas bravas but ended up with the patatas ali-oli. We did think about sending them back but ended up eating them. Great food and great company. Yep, the funk is over.

I did some thinking over the weekend. I think the real problem is that my two BFFs, Jade and Emerald, are currently out of town. The other women I know? Well most have men in their lives and can't be bothered with me except when the men are unavailable. I've always tried to not be that kind of woman. Because a man is a lot easier to find than a good friend. Well, at least that was the case in the past. And so the past week was a lot of wallowing in the feeling of being old and lonely. (This is why working is important. Work gives me something else to fill my days other than these thoughts.) I've also realized that the dating world is a lot like the work world for me -- I come off a lot better in person than I do on paper. But I haven't really felt like leaving home so what am I to do?

I did also consider getting another cat and fully embracing the life of crazy cat lady. But then I made it out of the house and life started to look better. Besides Natasha would probably do great injury to me and to any new cat I brought in if I did that.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

No quiz.

Just today's lunch.

Rosemary lamb chops with chard and balsamic syrup along with couscous.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Wine and food

For a number of years, the California Grape and Gourmet has been a family event. Well, at least my father has seen it as being a family event. I have not always been able to go due to work conflicts. But this year? Since I'm not working, I decided it was finally time for me to get my butt from in front of the TV. (After Monday, I did leave home briefly on Wednesday to get cigarettes.) And I also have all those new cute clothes. Seems a shame to have them sitting in the closet, taunting me. And the best part of it all? I would't have to do the drive to Sack of Tomatoes. Instead I was going to catch a ride with Mom and Dad. (In case you're a newer reader, Mom and Dad are not the people who gave birth to me. I like to think of them as my real parents.) But then I got a call from Mom on Thursday morning. Apparently Dad did not want to go after all. Not that I was surprised. Dad rarely likes to wander too far from his jazz collection and Stoli. Oh yeah, and the pipe collection.

It was just as well. I was not really feeling like going at that point anyway. My father invited me after the fact -- per usual. He was concerned that I was not getting out of the house enough. I asked him if he had selected a date that he would be in the Bay for our combo Father's Day/my birthday dinner. Now let's get real. The only reason why this dinner is on the list is because of the first item -- Father's Day. This year I was returning from Kate's wedding on Father's Day. Normally I would have been in Sacramento. My birthday? I have come to expect a check from my father for my birthday. For too many years to count, he has always been out of town for my birthday. He always says that he owes me dinner. Of course, if I want to claim this dinner, then I more than likely have to drive to Sacramento. I now let that comment go in one ear and out the other. Well, I did in the past. This year I have lots of free time on my hands so that I can stew in it all and get angry. My father says that he loves me as I am but then he pulls crap like this and I can't help but think that he is still trying to turn me into the kind of person he thinks I should be. See? Just as well I didn't attend the event. Because I've been in a crappy mood all of this week.

Once more I had visions of cutting my father out of my life. Our relationship has been precarious since my parents' divorce. I realized that part of the reason why I was hoping to hear from my old job soon was because then I'd probably never have to ask my father for money again. Because that has been the basis of our relationship. My occasional need for additional funds. I don't know if he realizes this. Probably not. Often I do as he has requested because I am afraid that the money will stop if I don't. Without this fear, then I wouldn't have to play nice when I'm not necessarily in the mood to do so.

Last week was a feeling of being stir crazy. This week has been plain, unadulterated depression and self-pity. I did see last night as a possible end to this feeling. I mean I was able to sit down with my Vanity Fair Africa issue and to read a couple more articles. Maybe it wasn't the best reading choice because afterward I was incensed at world affairs. So much so that I temporarily forgot my self-pity. So maybe it was a good thing after all.

When I feel like this, I have to exhibit extreme self-control. Because at times like this, I feel the urge to call folks I know that I really shouldn't call. My first was to call the last Boy. Did he even have a name? I don't think so. Probably for the best in the long run. This week was so bad that I even thought of calling Musician Boy. Because I want to experience that scary personality once more. In a pinch I can always send text messages to Retail Boy. Because he is still completely infatuated with me. And no longer lives within walking distance. I never lost my mind enough to even think of calling Sports Guy though. After running into him a couple of months ago, I know that this would be a completely bad idea. Because a couple of months ago, he seems to have forgotten how I threatened to take out a restraining order against his ass. Luckily I have been able to fight these urges. Sorry to the rest of you whom I might have bugged with my incessant phone calls. I just needed to hear a voice other than the TV.

And yeah, I'm sure it's been depression. Because even the thought of crawling up from in front of the TV to go a few blocks for cigarettes seemed overwhelming. I'd think about it and then roll back over for a nap. Then I'd finally make it out, like yesterday, and would proceed to suck down half a pack in something like two hours. By midnight that first pack of smokes I had bought was practically gone. I only smoke like that when I'm depressed, stressed out, or partying my butt off. (Remember how I said that smoking is an emotional need for me? It's part of my way of self-medicating. It's also part of my proof that I have an addictive personality. For this reason, I am thankful that I just said "no" throughout the 80s. Otherwise, I wouldn't be here today. I just worry about the potentially hurtful things that I could say when I'm in this kind of mood. Because I know how to go for the jugular. And after a couple of drinks, I can get painfully honest.) There was also that telltale sign of unexpected crying fits throughout the day yesterday. The tears proved to me that I really should not be out in the general public. If I'm feeling bad enough to cry, then I am likely to say or do things to make others feel just as bad as I do. So contrary to who I am as a person. So once again, my apologies to all whom I may have blown off. It was in your best interest that I did this. I have come to the conclusion that I just don't know how to deal with not working for extended periods of time. Work is my world.

When I did head out yesterday, I immediately ran into a former coworker who was shopping for a new bicycle. Later in the evening I received a call from another former coworker. Turns out that around the same time that I had been out, she had been drinking with classmates. But she didn't have my phone number with her. We almost crossed paths in that time.

Today I have to take Boris back to the vet's since they didn't finish all of his shots when they had him there all day last week. Please give me the strength to not bitch slap the receptionist. Because that's the kind of mood I'm in these days.

Cat update:

Last night I mostly listened to dance music. But I did slip back into the 70s. This time it was the late 70s -- as in Elvis Costello and the Attractions, the Cars, At one point late in the evening, I decided that I needed more juice. Boris, idiot that he is, thought that I was going to feed him more food. As I said previously, I have this way of making up songs to fit the mood.

Shots, dun-duh-duh-duh
Shots, dun-duh-duh-duh
We're gonna get our shots on.

Well that's as close as I can remember it. Boris took this as a sign that there would not be anymore food than what was already out there.

Like this fat ass needs anymore food. He's not even two. And he doesn't seem to understand that he is a perfect pear.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

More Valley Joe Love

First of all, I guess I should set the record straight. "Valley Joe" refers to the city of Vallejo. It's one of those California city names that eludes me. Not for it's origin -- the Vallejo family owned a great deal of land in the Bay Area prior to California becoming a state -- but in how folks now choose to pronounce the name. The closest I can get to the pronunciation is "Vuh-lay-hoe." It's almost as irksome as how folks pronounced "Villa La Jolla" ("vil-la la hoy-uh") when I lived in San Diego. If they understood the Spanish double-L in the last word, then why couldn't they apply the same rule to the first? Sorry. One of my pet peeves. Where was I?

Oh yeah. Vallejo. My first memories of the place in the 70s was this kind of country place. (Definition 7 is probably the closest to what I mean.) I went there often after my parents' divorce as my other parents are from their. My mother and I spent many holidays with "mom's" family. So much time that they are now my family as well.

Things started changing in Vallejo though after Marine World (now called Discovery Kingdom) moved there. Around this time housing prices started to go up. And Vallejo had all of this open land just waiting for developers. Now I know folks who have chosen to move there. It's now what I think of when I hear the word "suburbia."

Now anyone who knows me knows that I am fond of stream of consciousness. I didn't just start thinking about Vallejo randomly. Nooo. It was like the universe wanted me to think about the place. First there was that Surf MCs thing. Then yesterday I got the August issue of Vanity Fair. (No, I still haven't finished the Africa issue.) And this issue has an interview with Sly Stone. Squeeee!!! There are two songs I remember singing with my best friend at nursery school during the early 70s -- Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine" and Sly and the Family Stone's "Hot Fun in the Summer Time." So of course after reading the article, I had to sit down and listen to some Sly. It almost made me want to leave the house. But I didn't. Instead I followed it up with some Bill Withers.

And then I got to thinking. Yeah, I know -- a dangerous thing. Age five is about the time that I discovered that there were other things in the house that I could put on my portable phonograph besides the "Sesame Street" album. (I loved that portable phonograph. By age six, I was bringing that thing with me on a near daily basis.) I would sneak selections out of my parents' LPs. The ones that stick out in my mind are The 5th Dimension, The Supremes, and Johnny Mathis. I keep saying that I'm going to go back through the boxes at my mom's house and reclaim some of those. Because she said that I'm free to take whatever I want at this point. Hmmm. Maybe I have a reason to head out after all.

Today's a different tale though. Today I must leave and head up to Sacramento. More about that tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Reasons why I shouldn't smoke

Intellectually I know that I should quit smoking. For emotional reasons, I am not ready to let go of the habit though. Following are reasons why I know I should quit.

1. Family history of cancer.

2. Family history of heart disease.

3. I probably have Raynaud's. I first complained to a doctor about this when I was about 12 or 13. (This doctor told me to never start smoking. See how much I listened to him?) It's only gotten worse over the years. When the temperatures drop to about 60 F or lower, my fingers start to change colors if I am not wearing gloves. When it's cold and someone asks about the temperature, I look at my fingers and can usually give a pretty good estimate of the temperature. OK. So maybe it's not a case of that I might have it but that I do. I had something weird happen to my feet when I was in my 20s that sent me to the emergency room. The doctor there asked if I had ever been diagnosed with Raynaud's. I told her that it had been hinted to me in earlier years. Bottom line is folks with Raynaud's should not smoke.

4. I have suffered from chronic bronchitis as well as two bouts of walking pneumonia. Add into this that whenever I have a simple cold, I become asthmatic.

5. Some of my current dental problems are probably smoking-related.

6. It costs a hell of a lot of money to smoke these days.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Fighting boredom

This not working thing was kind of fun at first. Now I spend the day looking for ways in which to keep myself entertained. The height of yesterday was heading out to the store to get some beef for this dish.

Beef with black bean, asparagus, and orange bell peppers.

Today? Well, I'm going to take Jade's advice and head to the movies. Actually I think her words last week were something along the lines of, "Are you crazy? Whenever I have time off, I go to as many movies as possible." It is kind of convenient to have three movie theaters within walking distance. Movies I plan to catch this week are Waitress, Broken English (Love me some Parker Posey.), and You Kill Me.

Last Friday I did manage to see Ratatouille before my dentist appointment. (Loved it but then I'm kind of partial to the folks. Reminds me. I must contact Queenie to get my swag.) I just wish that I had read this first because what a perfect combo. And I've wanted to go to Liaison Bistro for quite some time. Maybe I should have waited some before dumping Musician Boy since I had convinced him that he should take me there. In past years I would be getting my French on by hanging out on Belden Place in San Francisco. Not this year though. A friend is having a birthday party in the East Bay so it looks like I'll be there instead.

What else? Maybe I'll get crazy and head over to the Farmers' Market on Thursday.

Oh, and there is that summer beauty known as "Big Brother 8." Why is it good that I'm not working? Because I can tune into "House Calls," the "Big Brother" web talk show, each morning.

A few bonus items.

Because I watch way too much TV these days, I am now addicted to this song.

Yes, this song is about to replace my previously selected summer theme.

And for Jill, once more.

Don't be fooled by that sweet look. She drew blood shortly after I took this picture.

Here's the other one. I was trying to enjoy my iTunes with the headphones on. Finally he left me alone. Now you see why I am thankful that I have DVR. Because sometimes it's hard to see the TV.

And speaking of iTunes, I was grooving to my old school kind of thing when I decided to listen to "Back to the Hotel." Gotta love my folks from Valley Joe. Imagine my shock when I followed that link to the now defunct label and saw mention of the Surf MCs. For years I was thinking that I dreamed that group. Except that I still own my 12-inch of "Surf or Die." How can you go wrong with rap about being a surfer/skater?

And I am now so feeling the party scene. Two of my favorite DJs/producers are supposedly going to be at DNA on the 27th. Be still my heart! My inner Holly is jumping with joy. Thank goodness I went shopping last week.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Customer service

By Saturday, I had to admit that this was the theme of my weekend. So sit back and read while I tell you about two not-so-good examples and one very good example.

It all started on Friday. Natasha had an appointment with the vet. Now Natasha is not the kind of cat who likes to be held so imagine the fun of trying to wrangle her into the carrier. Oh, and her claws are in desperate need of trimming -- something she will not allow me to do -- and so are guaranteed to draw blood when out. Therefore, I was rather cautious in trying to get her into the carrier. I am tired of looking like a suicide attempt survivor. During the 40-45 minute chase, Boris walked into the carrier several times. In fact, I had to dump him out of the carrier once when I was close to catching Natasha. Finally it dawned on me. Boris had an appointment for Saturday. Did it really matter which cat showed up on Friday? I plopped Boris down in front of the carrier and he immediately walked in. Our drive was a pleasant one. Occasionally I'd glance over at him just to see that he was curled up in the carrier, enjoying the ride. It seemed like a good sign. Until I went to pick him up. (I did a drop-off.) I got back to the clinic at the end of the day only to find out that I could not get Boris quite yet because his paperwork was not complete. I waited at least 20 minutes for this to happen. I was mildly perturbed.

Friday night I had the plan for getting Natasha to the vet. After Boris and I returned home, I noticed that Natasha kept sniffing around the carrier. So I left it on the floor with the door open. Sure enough while I was talking on the phone with my mom, Natasha walked right into the carrier. What my mom heard was, "That heifer!" in the middle of a conversation that had nothing to do with cows. So I left the carrier on the floor all night and got up around 6:30 a.m. (The earliest drop-off time is 7:15.) Around 7:00 Natasha came through. After she entered the carrier, I quietly and slowly crept across the living room and then I slammed that sucker shut. During the drive, I was subjected to howling and cat contortions from a cat who barely makes a single sound. I warned them at the vet's office that they might have to sedate her.

I received a call at 3:00 p.m. from the nurse. They had completed all of her vaccines and other medical work. They had not done the pedicure yet though and he thought that it would be a shame to sedate her for just a pedicure. I asked that they keep her a bit longer so that she could calm down and then try the pedicure. I arrived at the clinic to pick her up at 5:30 p.m. To be greeted by the same twit of a receptionist from the previous evening. (I really miss the old receptionist.) She starts to prepare my paperwork and then says that she can't tell what vaccines they have done. I told her that the nurse had informed me hours beforehand that they had done them all. She informed me that the vet was recommending that I brush Natasha's teeth two to three times week. I then asked if Natasha had had her pedicure. (If I have to brush teeth, then I need to know if the cat who will probably object to the whole thing is likely to draw blood.) She told me, "Yes." She then told me that I would have to wait while the paperwork was being completed and that she would let me know when it was done. I waited 45 minutes. And yes, I was pissed off beyond belief. After Natasha was brought out front, I let the receptionist know that I was pissed. Her response was that it was not her fault. It wasn't. But it is her job to deal with the aftermath of when something goes wrong.

So at this point< I got ethnic. (My mother did not understand me when I told her this. I then rephrased it. "Mom, I got black.") At 6:15 she informed me that Natasha was ready. I had been stewing in my juices so I corrected her. Natasha had been ready at 3:00; her paperwork had not been ready. I informed her that there was a huge difference in my understanding of a pet being ready and hers. My understanding did not encompass paperwork. And so after lots of screaming from me and another woman who had dropped off her pets right after I had in the morning, Natasha was released to me. I quickly scanned the recommendations from the vet as well as the services performed. Funny but it seems in the completed paperwork, a pedicure was never performed. (I know this for a fact from the ride home.) And then I noticed that there was not mention of dental problems. I asked the receptionist if she was sure she was reading the correct file the first time around. All she could say was, "I'm sorry for the inconvenience." I picked up a comment card before I left. I'll be dropping it in the mail on Monday.

And so Saturday seems to be all about stupidity. Because when I left the vet's with howling cat in tow, I needed to stop for food. Probably because the last food I had had was at 9:00 a.m. and I was feeling exceptionally evil. This is something that happens when my blood sugar drops. Something that can happen when a meal is delayed by an hour or more since I'm borderline hypoglycemic. (Someone should have informed the folks in the vet's office about this. Because I know that part of the wrath they felt was my crashing blood sugar. Nah. They're just asshats.) But I had a plan. I still had that dinner for four from Chipotle. So I pulled in and started ordering dinner for three. When I got to the register, I asked for the manager. The jerk appeared. I explained to him that I had won a dinner for four. His response? "Well didn't they give you a name to ask for?" I told him that I was given a name in that two-minute phone call but that I had failed to write it down. I was also told that if that person was not present that I should just ask for the manager. Which I did. I also told him my full name because they called me after all and should have some record of the whole thing. He went into the back. When he came out, he whispered something into the cashier's ear and then walked off. Whatever he said made her give me the bag of food. Yeah, I took the bag of tacos and burritos home. I'm just questioning whether I will ever go there again.

My mother says that I'm overreacting over all of this stuff. I'm not so sure.

On Friday while Boris was at the vet's, I went to the dentist. Now I am highly picky about my dentist. There are years I did not go to the dentist because any dentist that I would see, while in my right mind, did not accept that cheap ass insurance. But last week I realized that I have good dental insurance and free time on my hands. The first sign of civility was when the hygienist told me to raise my hand if I was feeling the least bit of discomfort. Then the dentist came in. I explained to him the constant pain that I have been feeling from my upper right quadrant for months. The office decided that (1) I need a deep cleaning, and (2) I need a couple of fillings. The thing is that the painful area coincides with an area in which I have had a recurring cyst. Given the limitations of monetary dental benefits, it was decided in the office that I should go to see the oral surgeon first as I may need surgery once more. (The shadow on the x-ray was huge.) If the oral surgeon clears me, then we'll do the deep cleaning. After that we'll do the fillings.

The folks in the dental office win the customer service award. They were prompt. They also remembered my past history enough to make recommendations that were reasonable in my opinion. In comparison, the vet clinic is on their way out and the restaurant is hanging on a thread.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

I usually try to avoid politics...

Well, at least, I try to avoid it here. But I couldn't resist this quiz I found at Silly's. The description really did seem like me. And I guess that's why I live in Berkeley. I fit in.

You Are a Liberal for Life

You've got a bleeding heart - and you're proud of it.
For you, liberal means being compassionate, pro-government, and anti-business.
You believe in equality for every person, and you consider yourself universally empathetic.
Helping others is not just political for you ... it's very personal too.

Friday, July 6, 2007

For Jolene

My mom and I had a "game" we liked to play on Sundays when I was growing up. We'd look through the real estate section of the Sunday paper and each select the house we liked. Cost was not a barrier in this game. Because one would assume that one has just won the lottery the previous evening. Sometimes we would follow up with checking out the model homes at a new subdivision in the afternoon. My mom said that they were a great place in which to get decorating ideas. This is the same mother who would sometimes suggest a Saturday afternoon trip to the hardware store. Not to buy anything per se. Just to browse. A miter saw can still make the woman drool.

Lately I have subjected Jolene to this game to some extent. Ever since the Cohens moved to Berkeley, in fact. Occasionally I email her links to cool houses for sale that I have spotted around town or on the internet.

I started to get a little stir crazy with this not working thing. Two weeks off is plenty of time for me. Especially since I am not doing the professional partygirl thing these days. My wallet thanks me for that. Leaves a lot more money to spend on other stuff. Like food. Books. The new pan. Clothes. You get the picture. So what to do? Take a bunch of photos for Jolene.

Obviously these folks don't know how I love to shop. The shrink is cheaper.

Now these first couple of houses look like the some of the ones I drool over in the Sunday ads. But would I really want to live in a neighborhood like this? Because looking at homes like these I can see how BWB refers to Berkeley as being suburbia. It's kind of like the feeling I get driving through St. Francis Woods in San Francisco.

And then reality sets in. I dream of the day when I will finally own a place. But then there's that problem I was discussing with one of my neighbors on the back stairs the other night. (I was taking out the trash. She was having a cigarette and a glass of wine. Because that's the kind of place in which I live. Cocktails and cigs on the front or back stairs.) I love my neighborhood and really can't imagine living anywhere else.

I love the mixture of single family homes...

with four-plexes and duplexes ...

with funky apartment buildings.

And houses that once were houses but now are dental offices. Actually now there are a great number of houses that were first houses and then became dental/medical offices and now are houses once more. Because the dentists decided that there was more money to be made out of renting the places out than to keep them as offices.

This is the longest that I have stayed at any one address except for that place I sometimes try to forget -- my mom's house. For the first time ever, though, I have a hard time trying to imagine living anywhere else.

Oh, and if I don't get back to work soon, I am sure there will be more photos taken around town appearing here. Because I'm going just a wee bit stir crazy.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Belated birthday

Not mine. Jade's. For those of you not in the know, Jade is my BFF. Next year will mark 35 years of friendship. She's been there through it all and knows where the bodies are buried. (I stay close to her because she is a lightweight and can't handle more than two drinks.) Anywho. Her fortieth birthday was back in April. We made several plans over the last couple of months to go out and do something. Each time she had to cancel for various reasons. Today we will be spending a girls' day of a matinee and some shopping before she leaves this weekend to Italy for a month of visiting with her in-laws. So I awoke yesterday and realized that I really should pick up a gift for her finally. Besides I was still consumed with this urge to shop.

I went to my never-fail shop for gifts for gal pals -- Body Time. I usually pick up a gift pack and a Sally Spicer bag for the lucky recipient. I like to go for one of the cosmetic bags but I didn't like any of the fabrics that they had in stock on Monday. So I figured it was Jade after all. She deserved a tote.

Jade's gift.

These bags are even more addictive than the Kate Spade bags in my opinion. Because they told me an awful thing while I was in the store. "If you don't see a bag in a fabric that you like, you can place a custom order." Nooooo! Do they not know how much I salivate whenever I see the Dragonfly line? Actually, they probably do. I tried out at least two of the bags from that line while I was in the store. And I'll tell you this. If and when those folks call to tell me that I have the job, I am going back there to buy at least one of those Dragonfly bags for myself.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Just another weekend

All this past week I have been feeling the urge to shop. Perhaps it has something to do with it being my birthday season. Perhaps it has something to do with the three months' salary currently sitting in my bank account. This has, of course, led to quite a bit of anxiousness. If and when I return to my old job, then I can actually spend a nice chunk of that money if I really wanted to. But if not ... Well, then I need the money for living expenses.

Saturday I decided to stay within reason. I went to the grocery store and broke one of my cardinal rules -- shopping while hungry without a list. The list is important. As long as I have a list, I can fight off the temptation of all the wonderful things around me. I should have only spent about $40 or so with what I actually needed but instead ended up shelling out over $100. The refrigerator is bursting at the seams.

I had managed to avoid the temptation of Shoe Pavilion. Well, I really didn't. They just didn't have the pair of shoes I really liked in my size. I took this as a sign that I was meant to try the other location -- the one at which one of my students' dad is the manager.

To which temptations did I give in? A stop at Bed, Bath & Beyond as well as at Barnes & Noble. I realized that all of my Sisters Grimm books had disappeared -- imagine that -- and that I still hadn't picked up the fourth in the series. And besides, my educator's discount card expires at the end of October. I need to shop while I can. So the weekend meant a stocked fridge and lots of young adult reading.

Hush and Double Dutch were great but a wee bit depressing. After that I wanted something lighter. That's how I ended up reading The Accidental Cheerleader next. This was followed by Minerva Clark Gets a Clue and Princess Academy. By this time it was around noon on Sunday. It was time to get out of the house. And I knew just the place.

By now, Sunday morning has almost become synonymous with chicken hash and poached eggs.

There has been something missing from my Sunday breakfasts for quite some time -- Bartlett pear jam. This meant a drive out to Pt. Reyes Station since that is the only place of which I know to get the stuff. (And apparently I answered Hilly's question too soon because as soon as made the decision to head on out, I started singing, "Bitch better have my jelly." Because I'm goofy like that and like to make up my own lyrics to songs I know. Not that I would have ever said it to the folks at Cowgirl Creamery. Because they're all so nice there.) Good thing Sunday was such a beautiful day. There was also the realization that I still hadn't gotten my dad a Father's Day gift and that he loved the jams and jellies as much as I do.

"Will you leave already, silly lady? We have no need for you currently as our bellies are full and the sun is shining."

I love driving out to Pt. Reyes Station. Something about the drive centers me, makes me believe that all is right in the universe. Maybe it's all the interesting sights along the way.

One of my favorite signs. I'm always tempted to turn and to inquire if there is a Headless Horseman about. But they probably hear enough of that.

The view along Sir Francis Drake. Perhaps it is not wise to try to snap photos while driving 50 mph. And perhaps I should clean my windshield.

Nicasio Reservoir. When I see this, I know my destination is near.

Alas it is too early for pear season but there were all other kinds of goodies to be found. And I learned that while the maker of these jams no longer comes to the Pt. Reyes Farmers' Market, she now goes to the Healdsburg one as well as one in either St. Helena or Napa. Life is complete now that I have all of this jam goodness.

For my aunt, there's Apricot and Strawberry -- two of the three "new" flavors.

My dad's Father's Day gift consists of Pink Grapefruit Marmalade, Roasted Pasilla Jelly, and Meyer Lemon Marmalade.

And finally for myself, I got Cinnamon Pear and Pink Lady Apple. Don't tell my relatives about the pear. It was the last jar and it's all mine.

Then it was time to try out my purchase from BB&B along with some of the purchases from the grocery store. The end result?

Mahatma yellow rice mix with sausage, shrimp, mussels, bay scallops, and sugar peas.

I started using the Mahatma mix a few years ago when saffron was difficult to find. I am starting to rethink it because (1) it in combination with the sausage can end up too salty for my taste at times, and (2) saffron is a lot easier to find. And the new pan? As I was taking it out of the box, I realized that I had spent more on this one pan than I had on my first set of pots and pans eons ago. They were good for -- boiling water. Not much else now that I think of it. Not since I've discovered that it's better not to be so cheap about certain things. I'm starting to think that there is a little bit of a grown-up in me after all what with the slight shift in my priorities.

So yeah, this is a pretty typical weekend for me. When I'm not busy trying to defend my title as professional partygirl.