Friday, May 30, 2008

Out of the office

And you're thinking to yourself, "Finally. Something new." Because this was from a couple of days ago.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A few of my favorite things

This is the first post I wrote this past weekend. See how happy I seemed? What is the lesson learned? When one needs a relaxing weekend, one should not answer phone calls from family members. That's what voicemail is for.

Imagine my surprise on Thursday when I came into work toting the tart only to discover that one of the guys had brought in pupusas for the office. I haven't had a pupusa in many years. Now I'm asking myself why this is the case. It was the perfect breakfast.

Part of the fun of watching Dumb and Dumber is this fascinating little thing. I've never seen a corkscrew like this one. Knowing Marin, it's something that has been in her family for some time. Her family has been in California for a number of generations.

Another thing I like about my weekends with Dumb and Dumber is the proximity of KC's Bar-BQ. Boris and Natasha are a bit fascinated with barbecue. The smell of it drives Dumb and Dumber into a near frenzy. And no, I do not share.

Imagine a photo of the lemon tree in Marin's backyard here. Most of the weekend, there was crappy weather. So no lemonade. And no photo.

Nothing says joy like the ability to go and grab some lemons to make a pitcher of lemonade. Now if only the weather could be warmer -- like it was a week ago.

And the next post should be completely fresh material. Ya know. Something that hasn't been marinating for a bit.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The memory of gifts

This is one of the posts that I wrote this past weekend before the other stuff. I'm feeling better -- sort of -- so I thought that I would start off with this one.

Normally when I watch Dumb and Dumber, I catch up on my DVD viewing since there is no cable in the house. And the thought of watching nothing but network TV on a holiday weekend? Ick! But Friday night I was sucked in by a series on the local PBS station, "Becoming American: The Chinese Experience."

Throughout the series, I found myself thinking how POCs have so many experiences in common living in the United States. Not that theses were new thoughts for me.

One woman talked about her two close friends in school; one was black and the other white. It reminded me of my two closest friends from high school. We told people that we were sisters who had the same mother but different fathers. Do you know how many idiots actually believed us? And my sisters? I'm still friends with them today. One is the friend for whom I made the layette a couple of years ago. And we were all heartbroken when that baby was stillborn. But a few weeks ago she gave birth to a healthy baby girl.

And there was this one kind of bold woman and by what they said about her college graduation date, she's about my age. She talked about how the joy of being American is that you can decide who you want to be. She pointed out that others may not be happy with your choice and try to make you define yourself in another way but the decision is still yours. She also talked about going to Cal and how everyone lumps all of the Asians together but how they're not all the same. She pointed out to Bill Moyers that there were terms that white America might not know that were discussed within the Asian community -- FOBs, ABCs, Twinkies. And I thought to myself, "But I know these terms because I had friends in high school and college who used them.

Now we get to the why of the bracelet. It was a gift from a family friend when I was in high school. Often dinner at her house involved looking through her jewelry after the meal. And when you said, "This is pretty," you would be told, "It's yours." Or she'd come back from a trip to Hong Kong with a new piece of jewelry for you. When I moved into my apartment three years ago, I had to sort through things. I came across this bracelet that I hadn't worn in years. I had forgotten that I owned it. And while watching the show, I remembered my bracelet and the rest just flowed. Because it was about a lot more than jewelry.

This friend proudly proclaimed herself to be ABC. Unlike her parents. She was like having the cool older sister around. When she came to dinner at our house, she'd peruse Seventeen magazine with me while my mother cooked up soul food. At her house, she introduced me to cranberry juice. And showed me how to fold wonton wrappers to make potstickers. Sometimes we would go to Clement Street for dim sum where she would order everything in Cantonese. And then she would say, "Just taste it. I'll tell you what is later." The item that I remember the most was shark. After she told me what I had just eaten, I said, "You could have told me what it was. I still would have eaten it." When she got married, I got to attend my first Chinese wedding banquet. I told my mother that I simply had to marry someone Chinese because I wanted one of those banquets. (She later divorced this husband after she found out he was cheating on her, if I remember correctly.) Over the years she also gave me numerous books to read. In fact she is responsible for my love of the hard-boiled detective genre. Later when I was home from college one summer, she took me to dinner at the cafe at Chez Panisse. (My mother had been invited as well but my mother can be rather opinionated about food and refused to go.) I remember what a wondrous place it was. And every time I walk past the place I remember that evening.

In remembering this friend (I'm not sure what has become of her. My mother had one of her infamous arguments and this friend disappeared from our lives as so many of my mother's friends have over the years.), I remember how so many conversations in trying to close the cultural divide centered around food. And maybe that's why I go back to food so often here. It's often a comfortable common ground. Except for maybe that pineapple thing. Or maybe that is as well.

Oh, and today marks three years of this blog.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Sometimes there are so many thoughts floating around in my head that I have to write them down, to say them. Because then I can get on with my day.

All I have left of my partygirl days are colorful memories and stories. Not much else. And when the blue days hit, it all seems like such a monumental waste. Proof to myself of how I fucked up my life. Because in the end, I'm still alone. And that's my own doing. The partygirl days were filled with superficial relationships. Don't get too deep. No one wants to hear it because it could potentially ruin their buzz. No, just sit at home by yourself if you feel like crying. Then wipe away the tears and put on your happy party face once more and go out and see the rest of the world.

One day the parties stopped and you woke up here. And while here is OK most of the times, there are times when you think, "And now I understand why they used to say, 'Die young and leave a pretty corpse.'" But that won't really work now. Because here you feel old and stupid and unattractive. Not always but on some days.

People say that I'm really good at keeping in touch with others. I have to. I just don't believe that left to their own devices that they'd bother. Might have something to do with all of those times I used to run the "test" years ago. I'm sure some of you have done it. You come home on Friday night and wait to see if anyone bothers to call over the entire weekend. They usually don't. Because they have better things to do than to be bothered with you. And then you eventually stop running the test because you know what the results will be.

And you wonder about these people who are busy out there living. How do they do it? Because in all those years during which you tried to forget about dying, you now realize that you probably didn't learn anything about living. You simply exist. And some days you feel cheated. Because in those years of wanting to die, everyone else would say, "But you have so much to live for." And now you think, "If this is it, then I think I may have been lied to." But maybe this is all that there is -- having an apartment that you like, a job that you like. Maybe it's childish and selfish to think that there should be more to it all.

Then you start thinking of watercolor washes. How when the brush first hits the paper, the color starts off strong and then it fades. And it's kind of how the blue days feel. In some ways the lighter days are the trickier ones. Because you never know when that little bit of blue will pop up. Some days you think to yourself, "I don't really want to feel this way." Others find you wrapping it around yourself like a comforter, not wanting to leave here.

And so today I think I'll just sit here. And maybe I'll finally figure it out. Probably not. So it will be just like any other day.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Altered plans

So here it is the holiday weekend and I have already possibly written my next two posts. Or so I thought. Because this was not supposed to be the next post but it is so I suppose that I should just get on with it. Because my next therapy session is more than a week away.

It was supposed to be a quiet evening of relaxation. I had eaten dinner and was sipping a second glass of wine while watching PS I Love You with Dumb curled up on the floor at my feet. And then my cellphone rang. I briefly thought about not answering but idiot that I am, I did.

Last Sunday my father took my stepmother to the hospital because she had nonchalantly mentioned a couple of sores on her legs. My father took one look at them and took her to the doctor. They put her on penicillin. And then on Monday morning my dad left town on a planned trip. Tuesday, my stepmother's brother decided that things didn't look quite right so he took her to the doctor again. And then my dad took her again on Thursday. Thursday they said that everything was looking OK. And then they called yesterday. They ran a culture on the infection and discovered that it is a staph infection. Great. The woman with a compromised immune system, thanks to the steroids they have been throwing down her throat to alleviate the brain swelling, now has a staph infection.

Thank goodness I had had a couple of glasses of wine because I had less of a filter than usual. Because this whole discussion started because of my dad freaking out over my stepmother's diarrhea today. After hearing it all, I replied, "Well, of course she has diarrhea. She's probably now on a broad spectrum antibiotic because of the staph infection. That means it's killing all of the bacteria -- good and bad -- in her body. You do realize that we all have helpful bacteria in our bodies?" And then I started thinking about other infections. "You should get her some cranberry juice. And some yogurt. With live culture." Oh, but my openness did not stop there. My dad shared that his older sister, who has been known to be quite the bitch, told him that he should stop sleeping in the same bed with his wife because of the infection. I know that part of her is concerned because my dad is a diabetic. But you know it has to be in some part due to her dislike of my stepmother over all of these years. I asked my dad if the wounds were dressed and if he had changed the linens. When he confirmed both, I told him to ignore his sister for now. They have slept in the same bed for over 20 years. I know the infection is a danger to him but I also don't want him blaming me for choosing to sleep in a different bed once she's gone. I did say that I understood his sister's concern though since people can actually die from staph infections. And so for the first time in all of our conversations during this process, I actually said the word "die."

I don't know about my dad, but I think that I am making great progress. And now that the movie is over, I need to find another chick flick to pop in. So that I can pretend that that's the real reason why I'm crying. Because that last one totally sucked when you've either been in relationships with crazy guys or have completely fucked up every decent relationship you've had in your life and the highlight of your Saturday night is to watch chick flicks alone. Maybe it's time to crank up the Janis Ian once more...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Back to regular programming ... sort of

The last time I did individual therapy, right after that last suicide attempt, my therapist made me read this book and do the exercises in it. For years I have struggled to remember the name of the book but today I decided to do a search on Amazon and found it instantly. With all that has been going on, I figure that it can't hurt to give it another read so I ordered it -- along with some knitting books. From what I remember, the book is all about how women are trained to be caretakers and along the way we forget to take care of ourselves. This is turn leads to self-esteem issues. So it's all about taking care of one's self. And learning to better handle one's various emotional triggers.

And I needed books. And knitting stuff. Because starting tomorrow evening, I will be dogsitting Dumb and Dumber for the weekend. This means no cable TV. So I'll be loading up on DVDs and books for the weekend. And some knitting.

There has also been some food around here this week.

Chicken casserole.

Marcia is always recommending casseroles. This was inspired by the one they make at Poulet. It has farfalle, diced chicken breast, peas, sauteed mushrooms, and a parmesan bechemel sauce.

This is what happens when you're not patient. Note the broken crust. I would have put the missing pieces back but they hit the floor.

When I went grocery shopping on Sunday, I got really excited over the berries. I thought to myself, "I should make a tart to take to work." But after making the casserole -- and cleaning and doing laundry -- I just didn't have the energy to make the tart. Monday was tutoring night so I didn't get in until 9:30. Last night? Well, y'all know I was pretty fried last night. It had to be tonight. But then I got impatient and took it out of the pan before it had cooled enough. And it broke. *sigh* I'm usually so patient. But I know it tastes good. So they'll probably eat it anyway.

So through all the craziness, I managed to cook some food. I had a pretty kickass day at work today. Oh yeah, and I'm inspired to knit once more. And that tells me that all is not lost yet. That and the fact that I can still laugh. Because believe me when I say that when you have lost the ability to laugh and joke? Well, you might as well just check yourself in.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A hot mess

Today at lunchtime, I went to my appointment at Thrive. And as a result, I have decided that I am a hot mess on the inside.

Twenty years ago, Thrive was all about the individual therapy. Nowadays they push the group thing. So imagine my surprise when after laying out some of the basics for the doctor, he immediately asked how I felt about individual therapy. Because he kind of thinks that I need weekly therapy. And maybe some groups as well. So yeah. That's where I am. Oh, and I did tell him no meds.

This evening I kind of discussed it all with Zombie Mom. She pointed out something of which I am perfectly aware but many who know me don't recognize. I have mad coping skills. This means that even when I'm falling apart completely, I can appear to have all my shit together. And by the time that other people realize how far gone I am, it's almost too late. I guess it's a by-product of growing up in a household in which things were not always discussed. I also learned compartmentalization and manipulation during those years. (Some days I think to myself that I should have gone into acting. Because I can convincingly become someone else with relative ease. Or maybe a grifter...) I like to think of them as survival skills and so I often fall back on them in times of stress, especially the first. But I'm getting better about that. Remember that recent girls' night? Oh, and my birthday last year? Both occasions were filled with people whom I've gotten to know in a variety of ways. In the past, I would have kept these groups separate.

Further proof of my coping skills. I've been letting my mother's calls today go to voicemail. Because I really can't deal with her incessant complaining today. I don't get it. She seems to find happiness in being miserable.

And yes, Zombie Mom, next time I'm there, I'll mention that other issue. That food thing. See, I've always been a little self-destructive. In the past that meant that occasionally I was suicidal. But now I'm a little more passive-aggressive about the whole thing. So I stopped being suicidal but I've kept one of my other self-destructive behaviors all these years. Part of my thinness has to do with genetics. A lot has to do with being aware of what I put into my mouth. And sometimes I just don't eat. There have also been periods in the past of purging. Oh, and then there was the summer of the over-the-counter diet pills. And when I did that I weighed about 20-25 pounds less than I do now. But it's not about food or weight. It's about feeling in control when everything around you feels so out of control.

Ever since the appointment, I have been feeling emotionally raw. These are probably some of my first tears since February. All I know is that I'm glad that my next appointment is in the evening because keeping it together at work after a therapy session can be damned near impossible. But I am the queen of being in control and so by the time I get to work tomorrow, hopefully no one will be the wiser.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Trying to get back on track

First of all, I must say that those months of deep-cleaning, organizing, and purging have paid off. This weekend hit and I realized that things were a mess. But it took me almost time at all to set things straight. I think the longest amount of time was spent doing laundry. So I guess I'm starting to feel a little more under control.

And Sunday afternoon as I walked to Andronico's, I realized something. I used to walk a great deal more when I first moved into my apartment. Maybe it was the novelty of the neighborhood. Many days I drive to Andronico's on my way home from somewhere else. I used to drive home and then walk to Andronico's. So on Sunday, after leaving the laundromat, I drove home first and then later walked to the grocery store. And it made me feel a bit better.

When I lived in San Francisco, I had a Sunday routine. I would get up early and clean. The last part of the cleaning was the refrigerator. I would take stock of the staples that were low. Then I would look through cookbooks and magazines to decide if there was something in particular I wanted to cook for the week. I would then add the "missing" items to my shopping list and head out. After re-stocking the kitchen, I would go out to do laundry, if necessary. And then it was back home to cook. And to relax.

And why all of this? Because I've gained 5-10 pounds in the three years I have lived here. And most of it is around my midsection. So not attractive. I have always said that I had no issue with gaining weight if it was proportionate. But this hasn't been and I'm pissed. And I know that many women would be thrilled to be able to wear a size 4 but most of my wardrobe is actually size 2 with a few pieces that are smaller.

I have a small frame so that excess weight around the middle? Makes me look two to three months pregnant. Really. I worked with a woman who has a similar build and my stomach now looks the same as hers did when she was about three months pregnant.

And yes, I realize that now I am finally in the "normal" range of BMI. I've just gotten used to being underweight because I've been there for way too many years.

There's also some whole other stress as well. A few months ago, there was problems with my Thrive membership because of a missed payment from my job. As I was cleaning up over the weekend, I found yet another letter from Thrive saying that I was no longer a member. I need to call tomorrow morning to check my membership status. Because I might have to cancel my appointment for Tuesday. Which is such bullshit.

Thankfully I've done the therapy thing before. And so I also spent the weekend going over things in my head. I'm burnt because between work and family, my world seems to be filled with people who only know how to say, "I need." (When I go to get my hair done, my stylist always asks what I've heard from this one cousin of mine. My response is, "Apparently she has needed anything lately since that's the only time she ever calls." I realized this a few years ago and just stopped making the effort.) I expect it at work. But at the end of the day, I need something other than that.

Case in point is that my dad's older sister made a huge point of telling me at the end of this past week that I need to do something special for my dad for Father's Day this year. I explained to her that with the exception of last year when I was at Kate's wedding, I always do something special for my dad. My birthday usually falls about a week after Father's Day. I get a check in the mail and a promise of dinner for my birthday. And yeah, it kind of pisses me off. Especially when I hear tales of my dad and stepmother heading down to the Bay Area for my stepbrother's birthday to take him out to dinner. Then again my stepbrother doesn't have a lot of friends so if they didn't show up, he probably would spend his birthday alone. Unlike me. Because when my family has not come through, my friends have always been there.

This rediscovery (I've recognized this in the past. I just temporarily forgot.) has helped a great deal in my mental state. As a result, I have stopped talking to family as much as I had over the past few months. I was just starting to feel like they are sucking me dry. Every now and then they ask how I am but it feels like one of those pleasantries of conversation. And even if it isn't, I know them. To say that I feel like crap is me being selfish once more.

I got evidence of this over the weekend when my aunt asked me if I was coming to the family reunion this summer. Ummm. Nope. I explained to her that plane tickets are expensive and I only get so much vacation time a year. And this year I have decided to use my vacation time doing things that I want to do, not what someone else tells me that I should do. There is a part of me that is somewhat happy after spending time with my mom or my dad and his family. But during the whole experience, I am near miserable. And part of the reason why I want to hold back on my time is that my mother's mother turns 85 tomorrow. I haven't seen her in over three years. And spending time with my grandma and the rest of my mother's family is always a positive thing. Maybe I'll go there for Christmas this year.

And now for other things. Do any of you watch "CSI" -- the original one? What is up with that season finale? Because besides doing all of the above chores, I also did some reading and caught up on stuff on my DVR.

Oh, and there will be proof later in the week that I'm really crawling out of the hole.

Friday, May 16, 2008


Perhaps it's been the unusually unseasonable weather we've been having in the Bay Area. All I know is that when I read Heidi's post earlier today, I started having a Veruca Salt moment. OK. Maybe it started earlier in the day when a coworker proclaimed her love of Augustus.

After a couple of hours of retail therapy on Bay Street, I headed home to feed the cats and to start on my mission -- on foot in my ever so stylish Dr. Scholl's. (And I really needed the mission because nothing can make one more depressed than to put on a pair of Diva jeans at Old Navy, look in the mirror and once more feel fat. And yes, I realize that they were size fours and that they basically fit. Because the largest size I bought tonight was a four and they did not look painted on. They looked normal. But I have one word for you -- muffintop. And although Whitney wears a larger size, she does not have muffintop. And ultra-lowrise do not camouflage the muffintop whereas other cuts do.) After hitting the second gelateria that is nearby, I realized that I would have to rethink the plan. OK. Actually there are three gelaterias nearby but I only go to two of them.

Pineapple-tangerine sorbet with rum and club soda.

And of course the whole rum thing got me thinking. What if I got an ice cream maker and started making my own sorbet? Sure there would be the frozen mint juleps. But what about a mint-lime sorbet? See where I'm going with this? Yep. I'm seeing a summer full of sorbet-based drinks.

Of course, there was food with this. Because I'm a fat pig who only thinks of food. Tonight was another stop at Gregoire's. And everyone stressed that I should try something different. But I had to stick with the grilled artichoke and the potato puffs.

Grilled peppercorn ribeye with Roquefort sauce.

And this time I remembered to order the strawberry bread pudding with chocolate cream. Isn't it cute?

Oh, and you want to know what is absolutely horrible? A new mixed use building recently opened around the corner from me. In one of the ground floor windows I saw the planning notice. What are they planning to put in the space? A dessert and wine cafe. How wrong is that?

Thursday, May 15, 2008


That's right -- two meals. The first photo is of lunch; the second is dinner. Because this "fat pig" is thinking, "Well hell. That Whitney gained weight on purpose and now she's the new winner of ANTM." And I think that we should all enjoy a meal or two and then tell ourselves how fabulous we are.

Maybe it was finally making that appointment at Thrive. Maybe it was having that fantabulous food yesterday. All I know is that my appetite is back. And last night I had my first normal night of sleep in a long time.

Originally this post was all going to be about the fabulosity of Gallardo's. I blame my coworker. She introduced me to them recently. I still haven't recovered from the fact that they make machaca burritos. I haven't had one of those since I left San Diego. Today's sweltering heat -- Bay Area standards -- did not call for a burrito though. And so I asked my coworker for recommendations. Oh, I'm getting ahead of myself. I thought of the place because her husband had dropped off an order of chilaquiles for her. And it looked and smelled so good. So I went for the #12 -- chicken enchilada and chile relleno. It's a good thing that they're not in my neighborhood. Otherwise, I would be living at the place.

On my way home, I ended up in a conversation with one of my mother's younger sisters about the primaries and whatnot. I was so deep into the conversation that I drove on autopilot. Next thing you know, I was pulling into a primo parking space near my building. And then I remembered that I was supposed to stop for cigarettes on the way home. I weighed my options and decided to keep the parking space. And after feeding the cats, I headed out on foot.

Now, I have a couple of choices for purchasing cigarettes -- one being much less expensive than the other. But I decided to go to the more expensive place because (a) they were closer, and (b) the walk is a bit more interesting. And as I walked past Poulet, I suddenly remembered that I wanted to try their Thursday special for this month. But I needed cigarettes. So after acquiring said cigarettes at the smoke shop -- because Andronico's stopped carrying tobacco products sometime in the last year -- I headed back to Poulet. And then a little voice told me to get a bottle of wine. (I don't think I've mentioned this before. Besides getting wonderful takeaway food, Poulet also offers up bottles of wine.) I was almost home with my bottle of wine and my dinner when a friend yelled from her car. She had just been to my apartment looking for me. So I waited while she parked and then we enjoyed the wine. (See? The little voice knew right.) And I had a yummy dinner after.

Oh, and for those of you who might be still looking for a hotel room for BlogHer, drop me a line. Because that one salesperson did hook me up with her friend who is a manager at another chain. And we chatted today. By sometime next week I should know the rate. Which I'll probably find out over a nice lunch. Yep. If it wasn't for all these sick people, life would be good right now.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Throughout the day today, I thought about writing this post. And as I thought about my day, I realized that some folks would think to themselves, "She's depressed? Really? Why ever?" And what made the day fantastic? The two events I wrote in on my planner for the day.

The first was lunch. I recently had to book a conference room at a nearby hotel for work. My boss pointed out that I should have insisted on a tour of the facilities so that I could get a free lunch. So I emailed the salesperson and lo and behold she said, "Sure. Just tell me the day. And we can have lunch at the restaurant." So I went for the tour. And met the the salesperson as well as the catering manager and the sales manager. In fact the sales manager joined us for lunch. Now get this. The restaurant's cuisine is "Japanese Mediterranean." I'll wait while you wrap your brains around that one. I went for the Japanese end of the spectrum and had some really great sushi and sashimi. The sales manager had his usual of a pork chop in a vermouth sauce. Since he joined us late, I was full by the time his food showed up. Otherwise I would have tasted it. But I know I'll be back. And on those trips I'll take photos of the food. Because the presentation was just as much a part of the experience as the taste of it all. (And yes, this was probably the most food that I have had in a single meal in over a week.) Oh, and because I told them that we have folks coming in from out of town periodically, we're going to be set up for the corporate rate on rooms.

At one point during the lunch conversation, I mentioned trying to find a hotel in the Union Square area during BlogHer. The salesperson gave me a list of recommendations. And said that she would check with her friend who is at a more boutique type place in the area to see if her friend can give me a rate. Have I mentioned lately how much I love my job?

After work, I went to see about my old job. Remember that short film my students were working on last school year? Well, it's complete and tonight there was a screening. And I was really excited that this time I had a drive-on pass. And my kids' movie? Totally rocks. If you're in the area and decide to drop in, not only will you get a meal but you will then have to watch their movie. Because I have it on DVD. The kids asked me and Queenie to come back for their sixth grade promotion next month. I'll need to check on the date. I went back for my first students' eighth grade promotion. I know that I'll go back for this one as well. Oh crap! My first students will be graduating from high school next year. I guess I'd better start penciling that in. Because yeah, I still occasionally get emails from former students.

And what else does one do when one is feeling blue? Why give dating another try, of course. I think I may have timed it right too. Because this time around most of my stalkers on OKCupid are in the 25-45 age range. And y'all know how much I love that range. With that said, here are my latest quiz results.

Your Score: JackAntelope

You scored 48Agression, 60 Speed, 39 Intelligence and 50 Strength!

You are fast... in bed.

Link: The What animal hybrid are you? Test written by eagleshark on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test
View My Profile(eagleshark)

Should I be concerned?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Oh hell to the no

Usually the "voice" I use here is my everyday one. But today deserves that special one -- the one I most often use in conversations with my aunt in Savannah. Because she's down home and likes to keep things real. So here goes.

A bitch was at work tonight until almost 6:00. But that's OK. Especially seeing as how I was an hour and a half late yesterday. (Yes, I called once my ass woke up. Oh, and after some tears when my boss was talking about my being late once more, I was told that if I was so stressed that I should take the time that I need for counseling. So I called Thrive and have an appointment for next week. So y'all stop frettin' and stuff. But I still don't have much of an appetite and last night I slept about four hours. So yeah, a bitch is probably depressed. Go figure.) And I don't really mind staying late anyway. I function better later in the day than I do in the morning. And traffic was good.

So a bitch headed on home and after finally finding parking, walked into her building around 6:30 or so. With dreams of cooking up the artichokes that were bought on Sunday. Only to see that shit pictured above on her door.

Now a bitch ain't trifflin' and always pays her utility bills so a bitch just knew that wasn't some kind of shut off notice. Turns out it was a notice letting a bitch know the folks had been by during the day to do a routine gas meter change out. And since a bitch wasn't home at the time, they left the service off.

And that was the point at which a bitch yelled, "OH HELL NO! I know those mutha fuckas coming out here tonight to turn the shit back on."

And so a bitch called up the damned utility company to be greeted by automated hell. And the automated voice said that the first available appointment was on the 19th. Say what? That's when a bitch hit zero to get a real person. Just to be told that the wait time was 12 to 20 minutes. So a bitch left her number so that they could call her back. Because if a bitch had actually had to sit on hold all that time? Let me tell y'all. It would not have been pretty.

What to do while waiting for the return call. Why you return your daddy's call. You know. That guy who spent most of your life working for that hideous company. First off, he informed a bitch that this is a standard thing the utility folks do -- change your meter when you're not home. And they don't give you any warning about it either. When he heard about the 19th, he agreed that was perfectly ridiculous and said he would make some calls.

Finally the utility folks called back. A bitch explained the situation -- calmly and without use of profanity -- and was told that they'd send someone out tonight. So a bitch called her daddy back to let him know where things stood. And I'll be damned if he was not sitting down, enjoying his dinner. Fool hadn't even made a single phone call. And it's because of stuff like this -- empty promises and all -- that a bitch has learned to handle shit on her own.

All a bitch has to say is that those fools better show up tonight. Or else...

Update: Shortly after posting this, my phone rang. It was the service guy! Woohoo!!!

Sunday, May 11, 2008


I'll get to the photo eventually. You'll have to hang in there with me while I get to it though.

After Friday's verbal diarrhea, I've had loads of time to think. The overriding thought has been how I censor myself -- sometimes here, overwhelmingly so in everyday life.

I grew up in a household in which certain things just weren't discussed. As a result, sometimes reality seemed like a dream. I didn't know how to ask the questions as a kid and so I chalked things up to an over-active imagination. It's always kind of surprising to find out that those supposed imaginings were in fact real. (And there's the stuff that's buried so deep that I will never have a memory of it.) And then you're told to not discuss these things with others. These things along with the other memories about which you have no doubt.

And I think that this is the very core of what we like to call dysfunction. The incessant lies. I suppose the good thing that comes out of this is that you can spot someone else's bullshit a mile a way. Because if you're really good at the whole thing, others may suspect that at times you're full of it but they can never really prove it.

Me? I'm really good at putting on the happy face when I need to. And of saying what I think others want to hear. If it's all a lie? Well, it was all for a purpose. (We won't even get into how I have learned how to read people pretty well over the years and so can manipulate them pretty well when I so desire. It's all about survival but more about that later.) When things started to fall apart for me in undergrad, no one around me really had a clue how bad it was until it was almost too late. (Don't worry. I vowed years ago that I would never go back to that place again and I know in my heart that it's true. And when my mother tries to tell me about all the horrible things that people do to one another, I remind her, "No one can do anything worse to me than I have already done to myself. And I survived that." Because my mother likes to remind me that we are both survivors. And if we're ever put in a situation that means our survival or the other person's? Well, we know who will walk away from the situation.) Hell. I started in high school. I could tell classmates fantastic tales about my life and they would look at me saying, "I know that you're lying to me but you're so convincing that I want to believe you." I explained to them that the first part of telling a convincing lie is first convincing yourself that the words that are about to pass your lips are the absolute truth. Because isn't that what good acting is about? Finding that part of yourself that can relate to the story you're about to tell? But back to the matter at hand. I've found that holidays -- the ones that most people spend with family -- tend to bring out the worst in me emotionally. The times when the acting is a little more difficult to pull off convincingly. The times when I am most likely to drop my guard and to say what I really think. Like what I did on Friday night. Because I write those kind of posts all the time. They just never see the light of day.

At these times, I fall into the comfortable -- obsessing about my weight. I know that when I look in the mirror, the person who I see is far from what others would consider fat. This is fine for the very logical part of my brain -- the part of me that makes me good at my job. But then there's the emotional me. The me who felt hurt and abandoned when my parents divorced all those years ago. This person doesn't understand logic in the least.

Food has always played a big role in my family. My father's mother's wonderful cooking. Well, my mother's mother is a wonderful cook as well. But unlike my other grandmother, she has always been obese. My mother's older sister as well. No. My aunt wasn't always obese. That was something that came later in her life. And my mother and one of her younger sisters have always dieted and exercised so that they too will not become obese. And somehow I can look at my mother who wears size 10/12 and think that she looks perfectly normal. And it probably has something to do with the fact that she is completely comfortable being that size. Even though, when I was growing up she was a 6/8. And the majority of the women in my family think that I could stand to gain some weight. Even now. And for a brief moment I thought of culture but then thought that I don't feel like going down that road right now. Well, not completely. Let me leave you with this one question. Is the quest for thinness a part of the assimilation process?

As I thought of all of this, I thought about how much of a woman's identity is tied up in her appearance. My mother tried to raise me to not think about my appearance -- well, as much as a Southern woman can. To my mother, one should never worry about being pretty but one should look presentable at all times. And me? Sometimes I don't look presentable. Because I will go to the grocery store with my hair pulled back in a scrunchy, no make-up, and wearing a ratty t-shirt and jeans with flip-flops. And every now and then -- well now that I'm an adult -- my mother will say to me, "You really don't notice, do you? How people stop to look at you? And you know if you paid more attention to your appearance..." Oh, and when my mother says this, she means "positive" attention. As in some guy
breaking his neck" to see me. And then I explain to her that because of how she raised me, I just don't notice because that's not really important. But that's a lie.

And I think of how my mother feels. When we go out to eat, my mother points out how waiters are always quick to respond to my requests but virtually ignore her. When I go out in public with her, she comments on the attention I get -- whether it be here or in Mexico. And now as I age, I understand what my mother is feeling. It is our love of youth. And my mother has never been one to buy-in to Miss Clairol so her white hair gives away her age. A few years ago, I took her to a salsa club in San Francisco. My mom can salsa with the best of them. I was merely her driver (My mom almost never drives into San Francisco, partially because she gets lost.) and so had no intention of dancing. Yes, I can salsa but it really isn't my thing. So there was her horror of sitting there and discovering that most of the guys didn't want to dance with her because she was "too old." Well, at least that was our take on the situation. Instead, guys would come to ask me to dance and I would suggest that they dance with my mom instead. And yes, my mother and I have had a strange relationship over the years. When I was in high school, many family friends commented that I acted more like the mother while my mother was the child.

Where was I before I was sidetracked? Oh yeah. One of the lessons I learned in college is that a woman's appearance does matter. And when people think you're pretty? Well, you can get away with a whole lot of stuff. Especially if you have brains and wit to back it up. Like you can get guys to do things for you. One of my college roommate's told me that the reason why I was so successful with my demands was that I always put them in a tone of voice that could be taken as a joke.

Once you have tasted power, it's hard to let it go. And one of the lessons that my mother taught me is that as a woman ages in our society, she is often thought to be less attractive. That's why my mother always stressed the brains thing. A girl has to have something upon which to fall back. And I'm not the botox or plastic surgery type. But I do love my Miss Clairol. And staying thin.

So today I headed up to my mom's house because it had been at least two weeks since I last checked on it. And there was the one item there that I have never owned -- a scale. I've never had much use for scales in the past. But today I was full of myself. I knew that over the last couple of weeks, I had dropped at least five pounds. Imagine my shock when I stepped on the scale to discover that I weighed what I had previously thought was my all-time high in weight. That means that I had been weighing much more previously. And I reminded myself that this was still less than what the "ideal weight calculator" I had found online this past week said I should weigh. But then I thought of my closet. And originally I had thought that I only needed to drop another five pounds or so but now I had to up it to five to ten pounds.

OK. I know that ten pounds sounds like a lot but that's where I was about five years ago. Back when my mother didn't ask me when to expect her grandchild. In my twisted control freak mind (because the logical part of me knows that this is the origin of it all), it's one extreme or the other. And it's a lot easier for me to lose weight than to gain it. Or at least that was the case in the past.

After stopping at my mother's house, I bit the bullet and went grocery shopping -- something I really haven't done in weeks. Because I know that I'm better off eating stuff that I've prepared instead of buying takeout. Well, except for that fabulous salad I had from Specialty's this past week. And then I cleaned out the lab experiments from the fridge.

Lab experiments? Well, they must leave the house immediately once they have left the fridge. And so while at the dumpster, I ran into my neighbor. Who works for a chocolate company. Thus the photo. Because he had been promising me chocolate for some time.

It's a good thing that I don't like chocolate that much. And almonds? Hate them. So that bar on top will be going into work with me tomorrow. The others as well. But maybe I'll taste a little bit first.

Bottom line. Just what a chick who is feeling a little obsessive with weight needs... (And that was said with a smile in case you were wondering.)

Friday, May 9, 2008

Half-formed thoughts

I have flashes of thoughts that could possibly be posts but I just don't have the energy to flesh them out. It was a long week at work. Well, maybe the correct thing to say is that the week's commute has been extra hellatious. So here are my scattered thoughts.

1. I am still cracking up over the comment yesterday from Anonymous. Because all I can think is that if this person read this blog on a regular basis, s/he would know that there are other things going on here besides food. But that's not what keeps me laughing. Anyone who has ever met me knows why I'm laughing hysterically. Oh, and Anonymous? Next time don't comment from work.

2. It's probably a good thing that I haven't been going out as much as I used to. In the past, when things went out of whack in my world, I always knew the one thing over which I had control was my weight. I spoke to my aunt in Savannah this morning. She said, "You might finally be getting into that size 4/6 range?" When I told her that I never wanted to be a size 6, she asked a lot of questions. And I lied. Just like I lied to my dad in this past week when I said that I was perfectly fine. Because I know deep down inside that I'm not. I know that I have fallen into bad habits. I skip meals and occasionally I puke them back up. OK. That last part is most frequently unintentional. I have a low gag reflex due to years of actively making myself throw up. So I often accidentally make myself throw up -- think toothbrush. There is a part of me that also knows that if it was easy for me to gain weight, I would have gone to the other end of the spectrum years ago. And I know that I should probably go back to counseling. The thing is that Thrive only seems to have times available during working hours. And now that I've found the great job, I just don't know how to ask for the time to go to appointments. (And for those of you have seen me recently, don't worry. I have years of practice of covering up what I'm really going through. And years of practice of not trusting people completely.)

3. I am torn between what to do this weekend. Part of me wants to stick close to home and get a little partying in. But my dad is trying to lay down the guilt trip about my not going to Sacto last weekend. The thing is that this weekend is Mother's Day. And I have a psycho insecure mother who will be kind of pissed off with me if I spend the day with my stepmother. My mother told me, "You can go to Sacramento this weekend but just remind that woman that she is not your mother." Have I mentioned that my dad and my stepmother have been married for 22 years? Have I mentioned that my parents have been divorced for 34 years?

4. I was about to get into the whole thing of therapy in my early 20s there but decided to spare y'all. Bottom line is that at 30, when my mom threw a hissy fit because I cooked dinner for my dad for Father's Day and invited my stepmother to join us, I learned to start to set some boundaries. The result? My mother was ready to walk but after a few hours of tears, she came crawling back and stated that she would obey the rules. Occasionally I kick myself over this whole thing. Because she lied. She really wouldn't know a boundary if it smacked her over the head. They've always been kind of blurry for her. Since I recognize this, I try to be forgiving.

5. Sometimes I go through a "what if" scenario. Those of you with siblings never really understand the burden of being an only child. When mom or dad is going through something, there's no one else to whom you can pass the buck. It can be stressful at times. I think this is part of the reason why Marin and I became friends. We understand this because we have each had to live it. My "what if" scenario involves a husband and kids.

6. My father may be a little less delusional about my stepmother's condition. Last week she had to start wearing Depends. (And if I ever get to the point at which I have difficulty in getting from point A to point B on my own steam and I have to wear Depends? Well, I have one word for you -- euthanasia.) He was so freaked out over this that he wanted to admit her to the hospital once more. My father is generous only to a certain extent. Don't fuck with his routine. Because he loves his routine.

7. Speaking of routine, I am heavily into reality TV these days. I like to think of it as my weekly skank fix -- Flavor of Love, Beauty & the Geek, Farmer Wants a Wife.

8. And I've been busy to set up routine at work amidst all the craziness. Well, occasional craziness. And a lot of the craziness goes back to one of the guys. He's a widower who's not much younger than my parents. And kind of hot if you find white-haired men hot. He's completely old school. His computer skills go as far as reading email. He may occasionally forward them but I have yet to hear of him responding to one. But I was warned of this when I took the new position at work. He was a little worried at first but now I have become his personal OnStar. I kid you not. I get phone calls of, "I'm at such and such location and need to get to this place. How do I get there?" So I pull up Google Maps. And stay on the line until he has made the final turn. I also get phone calls for folks looking for him. He has a tendency to ignore voicemails. So I end up sorting things out. But that's OK with me because these are the kind of things that I'm good at. Just like I'm good at helping him to sort out the mountains of paper in his office. Really. Mountains. When I go in, I tell the receptionist that if I'm not out in a reasonable amount of time that she should send in a search party. But he knows what he's doing -- professionally (He brings in at least a third of the business, I have been told.) and on a interpersonal level. Because the Blarney runs deep in him. He will ask you to do something with that hint of a smile in his eye while he calls you "darling" and you feel compelled to help him.

9. I have been cracking up over Catheroo's post. I am trying to figure out where I could put a treadmill in my place.

10. What is up with Mariah Carey's marriage?

Monday, May 5, 2008

New month

Now this might not sound exciting to some of y'all but when you find yourself at home with your knee wrapped in a bandage and propped under some pillows. And then realize that you don't have anything to make a complete meal. And you're really hungry. Well, the start of a new month can be downright exciting. Because Poulet and Gregoire change their menus monthly. Gregoire won out this time.

Grilled artichoke.

Pancetta wrapped pork loin. And that stuff on top? Melted Gruyere.

And no trip to Gregoire is complete unless there are potato puffs.

After ordering, I almost kicked myself for not ordering the strawberry bread pudding with chocolate cream. But then I remembered the carrot cupcakes from Poulet in the fridge at home.

Yep. Life is good these days. Oh, and I will be hitting Poulet on a Thursday this month. Because the Thursday special? Greek chicken phyllo pie with feta & olives served with roasted zucchini. Maybe I should go this Thursday...

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Tweaking things

Last night I was reminded that I am not as young as I like to think I am. And it all goes back to things that I did when I was in my 20s. Because last night I was in quite a bit of pain.

The first incident involved working at the amusement park that summer. I ended up dropping a full beer keg on my right knee. No broken bones but lots of bruised soft tissue -- as in all the tissue under my kneecap. While the injury was healing, a normal day of walking was painful.

A few years later, I had a slip and fall that resulted in my injuring one of the tendons in my right hip. There were days that it took me 20 minutes to pull myself out of bed. And there were weeks of wearing tennis shoes because they were the only things that I owned that were flat and gave me a sense of stability. It was during this time that I first discovered the joy that is flexeril as well.

Usually the flare-ups are a result of excessive driving. Because I still insist upon driving a manual transmission. But it's gotten better because now I can drive to southern California and am not in excruciating pain once I arrive.

After work last night, I went to visit family friends in Pacifica for dinner. (It was also to discuss my tutoring their foster daughter in math. See? I still haven't given up on the kids.) As the evening progressed, my right knee and hip started to hurt -- a lot. And all I could think was, "I have to get in my car and drive home."

I ended up hanging out with one of my neighbors on the front steps for a bit after getting home. (He had locked himself out and was waiting for his roommate to return.) Once in my apartment, I headed straight for the kitchen to feed the cats. Not that Natasha was screaming for food because she looked a little groggy. I knelt down to get cans from the cabinet. And that's when my knee gave and I ended up on my ass on the floor. Once the cats were finally fed, I wrapped my knee and popped some ibuprofen and assumed the position on the couch with remote in hand.

And I had time to think. My conclusion was the only thing really different has been the walking/running at lunch time. And it's been making me feel really good -- until last night. So now I think that I have three options. The first is that I start wrapping my knee on a regular basis once more. The second is that I only walk and do not run to lessen some of the stress on my joints. The third is that I find some other form of cardio that isn't so hard on me.

This is kind of new territory for me so I'd love to hear from those of you who do some form of exercise on a regular basis.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Acts of kindness

My father has always been a generous person -- at least with those whom he knows. He figures that if you need something and he can afford to help you, then he should. If you are having a fundraiser for a non-profit and he likes your program, he'll write a check.

My mother can seem a bit stingy at times. But she always has had time to volunteer for non-profits. And then there was that time when I was in high school.

One night on her way home from work, she noticed a disabled car on the side of the road. Stranded were a woman and her small child. My mother was concerned about the safety of the child. And so since they were near the exit to go to her house, she pulled over and picked them up. As the three walked in the house, my mother explained about the mother and child. She drove them to the house so that they could use the phones -- no cellphones back then -- to call for road service.

Later in high school, I found out that one of my friend's had a highly abusive dad. I shared the story with my mother. My mother, who grew up with an abusive dad, told me to go to school the next day and to tell my friend that she always had a place to stay if she ever needed to get away.

My mother's supervisor lost her house in the Oakland hills firestorm back in the early 90s. She thought about how it must feel to lose everything. And then we went to the kitchen. For years my mother had been "collecting" dishes. (This would be in her extreme shopaholic phase.) Together we selected a set of dishes to give to her friend.

In college, I had a roommate from Malibu. She told me the tale of seeing Martin Sheen in the grocery store one day. In line in front of him were some migrant workers. He told them that he would pay for their food -- but not the alcohol or tobacco.

This roommate had a friend whose mother had come to California in the 60s to find herself. Her mother ended up in Berkeley. Every day, back then, her mother would cook up huge pots of rice and beans and head to the streets to feed whoever was hungry.

I guess to me these things seem like perfectly natural things to do. And so sometimes I do things, like paying for a guy's food at Safeway, without even thinking about it. It's just the kind of person my parents taught me to be. (And yeah, I know that sometimes it is completely irrational to hold others to the same standards that I try to which I try to hold myself and then to get mad when they don't meet my expectations.)

Before going into teaching, I worked for a non-profit in the Union Square area of San Francisco. The panhandlers at the Powell Street BART station? I knew all of the regulars by name. I have never been one for giving out money to panhandlers. But I will give them a smile. And sit and talk to them. And if they tell me what things they need, I will get the items for them.

Only one of the regulars was a woman. One cold winter morning (The nights had been running in the 30s.), I noticed that she kept putting her hands in her armpits to keep them warm. I asked her about gloves. She had had some but someone had stolen them. I explained to her that I frequently received gloves as Christmas gifts and had tons of new ones at home. She almost had tears in her eyes the next morning when I showed up with a new pair of mittens.

Another panhandler had a wife who worked. But they were in San Francisco with only one income. So they lived in an SRO. With their newborn daughter. Their cooking facilities consisted of an "illegal" microwave. Some evenings I would be at the station late enough to see the wife coming home from work. (I still have the photo she gave me of their daughter on one of those evenings.) We talked about AFDC. Apparently one can get WIC coupons for milk and juice but not for diapers. And diapers are damn expensive. So she would tell me what size they needed and on the days I actually drove into San Francisco, I would bring them diapers that I had picked up at Target. For much less than the corner store had been charging them.

When I left the non-profit to go into teaching, I let my peeps at the BART station know that they wouldn't be seeing me around. They wanted to take me out for a farewell dinner. I told them that I appreciated the thought but I couldn't let them spend their money on me.

The school at which I worked my first year teaching had a food drive for Thanksgiving. One of my students said that her father had told her that homeless people were bums. I told my students -- sixth-graders -- about the people I had gotten to know at the BART station. I explained how many had told me tales of being laid off. I then told my students that many people in the United States are only two to three paychecks away from being homeless.

I moved to Berkeley three years ago because it has always felt like home to me. Well, it really was. When I was born, my family did live in Berkeley. We only left when I was two because of my dad's job. My mother said that I have always been the kind of person who fits in perfectly in Berkeley. I can't disagree.

I have walked out of restaurants with my doggie bag to be confronted by a hungry homeless person. At those times, I was full so I found no problem in handing over the doggie bag.

Years before the Safeway incident, a homeless person asked me for money one evening while I was leaving my fave bar. I asked if he was hungry. When he said "yes," I explained that I would not give him money but that I would walk with him to somewhere to get food. He could pick out whatever he wanted and I would pay for it. He took me up on my offer. Of course, the boy I had met in the bar insisted upon tagging along. I think he felt a need to protect me. Because sometimes I'm just fearless. So the boy and I stood around in the quickie mart/deli that is around the corner from the deli while the guy picked out food. And when I pulled out money to pay for the guy's stuff, the boy insisted that I put my money away. The boy paid for the guy's stuff instead. Maybe he was trying to impress me. Who knows.

And so yes, I am perfectly serious when I say that if you find yourself in the neighborhood and in need of a meal, just drop by. My mother, the Southerner, has told me numerous times that you must always have food and drink on hand. Because you never know who is going to drop by. And it would be just rude not to offer them something to eat or to drink.