Friday, August 29, 2008

Slow day

Time is passing ever so slowly today. So much so that I am entertaining myself with online quizzes. (Don't tell my boss that though.) First I confirmed that I am a nerd -- and proud of it. To continue my nerdiness, I took the following quiz.

Your result for The Commonly Confused Words Test...

English Genius

You did so extremely well, even I can't find a word to describe your excellence! You have the uncommon intelligence necessary to understand things that most people don't. You have an extensive vocabulary, and you're not afraid to use it properly! Way to go!

Thank you so much for taking my test. I hope you enjoyed it!

Take The Commonly Confused Words Test at HelloQuizzy

Then again, I used to be an English teacher. Yes, I know that my grammar and vocabulary here are not always "proper." It's like a former coworker used to say though. "Most writers break the rules. However, one must first understand what the rules are so that one can make a conscious decision to break them." I like to break rules.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


So yeah. I've been pretty grumpy lately. I'm working on it though. When I'm pissed off, I like to run. It used to be if I was feeling grumpy, I'd go for a drive. Now I go for a walk.

Every summer there is corn in the field. I'm not sure if I really want to know what they do with the plants. In the fall it all gets tilled under and the Canadian geese show up. For at least a week. But the field wasn't my real destination.

Nope. Not the final destination. Every time I pass by Live Oak Park I do think of how I should go there more often though.

I fell in love with Codornices Park in elementary school. From first through third grades, I went to this babysitter's house after school. Most days she would take us girls to a park. Codornices was the special occasion kind of park. There are trails along the creek. But best of all is the cement slide built into the hill. For really good speed, it's best to use wax paper or cardboard under your butt.

And nothing beats the views from up there.

Or the beauty of the Rose Garden across the street. I always forget that there are tennis courts next to the Rose Garden. All I could think was, "Is there a cooler tennis court anywhere else? I don't think so."

On my way back down the hill, I couldn't resist taking a few photos of the homes around the area. The first is of a house that's being remodeled. The other two photos I had to take after seeing an "Apartment for Rent" sign. I don't even want to imagine what the rent is up there. (I had to look out of curiousity since I knew the property management company would have it listed on their website. $2,650 for a two bedroom. Although they only show photos of one bedroom. Hmmm.) By this time I was also chatting with Zombie Mom on the phone. I think that she was amused by my random valuations of houses I passed. Like this large Tudor style one. Sorry but no photo. "Hmmm. One point five."

The whole walk was a little over two miles. As a reward, I stopped at Gregoire for the eggplant and the potato puffs. As I stood at the register, I felt my legs starting to shake a bit. So now grumpy has been replaced with sore.

That's OK though. Just getting ready for what will be coming in a couple of weeks.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Summer of death

That's what I have told one of my cousins I have come to name this summer. My aunt died. Last week a family friend died. And through all of this my stepmother is dying. On Friday my cousin echoed my earlier sentiments. "I'm done."

Yeah, we lost a family friend last week. I found out by reading the paper. But this was someone whom I knew in name only. My dad's cousin? She went through this whole, "My wedding party is dying" thing. But I, the flower girl, am still here.

Saturday turned out to be the nexus of all that is bad in my life. Picked my mother up after her trip to see her mother; she had no regard for my time and schedule per usual. Even better was when she talked over me while at brunch. Then again, she did show great improvement by apologizing immediately -- a rarity. And I was reminded once more how I do not have a voice as far as my family is concerned unless they want something from me. I went to spend a couple of hours with my real parents after that. Screw all those other things I had had planned for my day. My head hurt and I needed to recharge.

It wasn't enough though. I got home and decided to check stuff on my computer. I read a blog post that pissed me off. I could go into it but I decided that it all really isn't worth my energy. Who are these people? Are they a part of my everyday life other than some words on a screen? So I opted to not comment. Nor did I write the flaming post that instantly came to mind. I reminded myself that the universe has a way of dealing with things as long as one has patience. And I have loads of patience.

No. More pressing was the need to lie down. For a couple of hours. Saturday night was supposed to be girls' night out.

Two of the women had already backed out on Friday. The restaurant owner called to confirm the reservation. He was thrilled when I told him that instead of six it would be four. And then I picked up the phone to confirm two of the four. (I didn't bother to call Fluffycat because I knew that she would definitely be there. Remembering this is why I actually showed up to the restaurant.) One of the two called while I was walking to the restaurant. She was at least an hour's drive away. She had forgotten. I had heard nothing from the other. And then I started freaking out. And getting fully pissed off. By the time I had reached the restaurant -- on time for the reservation -- I had heard from only Fluffycat. And so I gave up our table.

I ended up on the phone with one of the women who had bowed out on Friday at this point. That third party? She had apparently called this other friend. And I started screaming about how I was the one who had set everything up -- at this friend's behest and she did not have the decency to call me to say, "Hey. This is what's going on." Especially since this friend has had a past history of flaking. And even more so, because this friend was the one who had asked me to set the whole thing up in the first place. This would be while talking to my friend when I called two weeks after my aunt had died because I was still in disbelief that she had not tried to contact me. Saturday night's dinner was our first contact since then. Part of my tirade on the phone was that if she didn't show up, I knew that we were done as friends. But she did. So now I'm still questioning. Of course, I'm leaning heavily toward being done with her at this point. I know that we have a bond but what if it isn't what you need?

Food at the restaurant was fabulous. Fluffycat and my friend headed home. I headed to my bar. I got a cocktail and headed out to the outdoor area. While I played solitaire on my iPhone, I fought back the urge to cry. The guys I have met there previously quickly realized that they needed to give me space. I was angry at the world. But mostly I was angry at myself for making bad choices.

Random Guy showed up, as I knew that he would. I told him that I was pissed off with the world and he quickly moved out of range. Eventually he sat with me. And I thanked him for making me laugh. I don't laugh much these days.

There is the moment that continues to haunt me. Random Guy asked, "Why don't your friends ever go out with you?" And I explained about their marriages and their kids. And told him that one day, it would happen to him as well. But the thing that touched me? We're not dating but he said that he'd like to meet my friends. Heck. I've met his. Now there's a part of me that is feeling abandoned. Nothing new. I'm an old hat at this feeling,

By Sunday, I thought to myself, "I'm done with this blogging thing. It's time to go out and reclaim my life." But I had a life when I first started this blog. It's just that I need to find my way back the person I used to be. Not completely. The new version of that person has learned how to say "no" and to not feel overly guilty for saying that one word.

Somewhere along the way I have built a life that is filled with people who say, "I need.." and, "Could you possibly do..." This isn't so bad in itself. It's just that with many of these people, when I utter the same words, they don't seem to hear them.

I became my "partygirl" persona because I realized that people did not listen to me. The partygirl persona allowed me to be all in another person's face until I was heard. OK. Let's be honest. When I am in partygirl mode, I only have to say it once.

Now I'm trying to figure out how to fit that into my everyday life. People want me to research stuff and to then give advice. If it doesn't fit into their vision, then they ignore what I have said. Thing is that months down the road, I am generally proven right. I love research. I love looking at the "big picture."

Where am I now? I'm trying to come up with things that will help me to maintain my sanity during all of this. And to tell everyone who doesn't fit into the plan what they can kiss.

And so the summer of death marches on.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Look, BellaKarma. No meat.

Summery Corn Soup

So I know that Biggles will not be thrilled with this post. But you know what? One does not have to have meat with every meal.

My mother and I toyed with this concept through the late 70s and the early 80s. Why? Many reasons. After my parents divorced, money was tight at first. My mom's younger sister has been a pescetarian since the early 70s also. My mother and I both love seafood. Well, my mother loves shellfish and I love just about anything that comes out of the water. But we also enjoy the occasional pork chop or rack of lamb. *sigh*

Before I threw on the trout last night, I started this dish. Well, it had a lot more cooking time. I knew that I would tout it for BellaKarma. Often she looks at the dishes I cook and post here and tries to think of vegetarian options for them. Not necessary here. This soup is completely vegetarian. No. Scratch that. It is vegan. I must admit that vegan is an extreme rarity in my cooking. I just love those dairy products so much. In fact, I have yet to meet a dairy product that I don't like.

And now I must reassure BellaKarma some more. It's not that complex a recipe. Really. I must admit that I was dreading that whole straining thing but it went quickly. And as you see, I went for yellow tomatoes throughout the entire recipe. I was briefly tempted to put in more than two chiles but then I came to my senses. Thank goodness.

Bottom line. This is something that I'd definitely make again.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The return of bacon

Last summer was the salmon with bacon. It was good but I actually prefer trout to salmon. Go figure. And I absolutely love the Pan-Fried Trout with Bacon. I could marry it. Next time I might try substituting shallots for the green onions though.

And there was a salad on the side. If it's just me, then the salad is always on the side. My dressing of choice this summer is raspberry balsamic, walnut oil, dijon mustard and tarragon. That's it. Nothing more. It's gotten so that I keep a small of it in the fridge.

Now this isn't what I had planned to post tonight. I was supposed to be having the mahi-mahi but it had finished defrosting in the fridge. Good thing that I broke down and got the trout (and bacon) while I was in Berkeley Bowl tonight. (The reason for the shopping trip is a dish that is still cooking as I type this.) Yep. Someone meant for me to have the trout tonight. And to whomever that may be, I say, "Thank you."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Small roads

I suddenly realized something this past weekend. I've missed out on a great deal of the beauty of California because of my mom's fears. Specifically my mother has a fear of bridges and two lane roads.

When I first started going to Pt. Reyes Station, I mentioned it to my mom. She asked about the roads. I told her the truth. She said, "No."

But I love two lane roads. I love drawbridges. And so it was perfect that Saturday afternoon/evening found me driving through the Delta. (Even if I had "Walking in Memphis" stuck in an endless loop in my mind.) I thought of y'all while I was driving. Like, "I should pull over to take some photos," but the sun was setting and I try not to do those kinds of roads after dark if I've never driven them several times. So I'll be heading back.

I previously said that Sunday was my "me" day but Saturday evening was as well. Getting behind the wheel of my car on open, or fairly open, road is very relaxing. By the time I got home Saturday night I had clocked around 260 miles of driving from the time that I left home for work on Friday morning. Looking at the number, I think that it really isn't that much but then I think about the reality of it all.

Friday morning I drove to work in San Francisco. At the end of the day, I drove home through Friday night commute traffic. It was road rage worthy. After eating dinner, I gathered my stuff and then drove to Sacramento. After doing three and a half hours of work in my dad's office on Saturday, I drove to Tobie's housewarming. And then home.

On the road between Sacramento and Lodi.

Brannan Island Levee Road in the Delta.

It was the drive to Tobie's and then the drive home that took me through the Delta. I haven't spent much time back in that area. Might have something to do with the great number of folks who some may classify as being "rednecks" around those parts. Always made me a bit uneasy.

Berkeley Plantation, Virginia.

James River.

Just like how I will do ten hour drives by myself through the Deep South but I don't stray onto those small roads unless I really know them. Because solo driving in the U.S. means that I look at things not only through the lens of gender but through that of race as well. When I lived in Virginia, my downstairs neighbor, the self-proclaimed "redneck," told me the places that I should avoid. Oh, and I should explain. Her calling herself a "redneck" had nothing to do with her political beliefs. Nah. She just didn't have a college degree, liked country line dancing, and Jack Daniels. It was more an acknowledgment that white folks with more money than what she had looked down their noses at her. A lot of her kind of folks were my friends when I lived in Virginia. Maybe there was a shared experience that the dominant society would never think that you were good enough for them.




I digress. Bottom line is that I need to do here what I did in Virginia. It was much easier there because of the French Bitch, the Peugeot I drove back then. My car had phantom problems in the electrical system. This meant that I called the towing company -- in a town of about 10,000 people -- at least once a month. Since I apparently have a distinctive voice, they got to know me at "hello." Now I don't know how much experience you have with getting a jump start but the deal is that you should ideally drive the car for at least 30 minutes after getting the jump. It gets boring driving the same streets and ideally you should take the car on the highway. So while I was waiting for the tow guy, I would pull out my map and look for unfamiliar lines. I quickly learned that I could drive to Jamestown and back if I was in a rush. Have a little more time? Head to Yorktown. Or just explore the other nearby towns. And then there were the days that I would just head out with my camera riding shotgun.

I have been trying to find balance in my life. Over the past weekend I have noticed quite a number of things that were lacking. Hopping in my car and driving down some unfamiliar road is one of them. So now I'm going to figure out how to include these explorations into my life. Because they are me. And I just need to reclaim the pieces of me that have gotten lost along the way.

Note: Photos added from Google the afternoon of 20 August 2008 at the request of
. One day soon I'll go through my old photos and post some of the stuff that I actually took while I lived in Virginia.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Omnivore's 100

I saw this over at Cookiecrumb's and so I had to give a go.

How the Omnivore's 100 works:
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.

2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.

3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.

4) Optional: Post a comment at Very Good Taste, linking to your results.

MY OMNIVORE'S 100 (53 out of 100):

1. Venison

2. Nettle tea

3. Huevos rancheros

4. Steak tartare

5. Crocodile (though I have had alligator)

6. Black pudding

7. Cheese fondue

8. Carp

9. Borscht (I really don't like beets.)

10. Baba ghanoush

11. Calamari

12. Pho

13. PB&J sandwich

14. Aloo gobi

15. Hot dog from a street cart (My mother swore it was part of the New York experience.)

16. Epoisses

17. Black truffle

18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes

19. Steamed pork buns

20. Pistachio ice cream (I don't like most nuts including pistachios.)

21. Heirloom tomatoes

22. Fresh wild berries

23. Foie gras

24. Rice and beans

25. Brawn or head cheese (Not after seeing my grandmother make it.)

26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper (The closest I've gotten was a olives stuffed with Scotch bonnet instead of pimientos. Mmmm. Good stuff.)

27. Dulce de leche

28. Oysters

29. Baklava

30. Bagna cauda

31. Wasabi peas

32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl

33. Salted lassi

34. Sauerkraut (Words cannot even begin to describe how much I love this stuff. Oooo. And Kim Chee as well.)

35. Root beer float

36. Cognac with a fat cigar (Nope. The last time I had a cigar -- a Cuban -- was with some sangria.)

37. Clotted Cream Tea

38. Vodka Jelly/Jell-O

39. Gumbo

40. Oxtail (I debate about whether I'll ever eat this again since I know that the person who prepared it before was not that good a cook.)

41. Curried goat

42. Whole insects

43. Phaal (I really must try this because I really love a good vindaloo.)

44. Goat's milk

45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth $120 or more

46. Fugu

47. Chicken tikka masala

48. Eel

49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut

50. Sea urchin

51. Prickly pear

52. Umeboshi

53. Abalone

54. Paneer

55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal

56. Spaetzle

57. Dirty gin martini

58. Beer above 8% ABV (Once was more than enough.)

59. Poutine

60. Carob chips

61. S’mores

62. Sweetbreads

63. Kaolin (Isn't this the active ingredient in Kaopectate?)

64. Currywurst

65. Durian

66. Frogs’ legs (I go back and forth on this one.)

67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake (Yes to all except the elephant ears.)

68. Haggis

69. Fried plantain

70. Chitterlings or andouillette (Once was enough on the chitterlings as well. Oh the smell.)

71. Gazpacho

72. Caviar and blini

73. Louche absinthe

74. Gjetost or brunost

75. Roadkill (Only if I didn't know that it was roadkill.)

76. Baijiu

77. Hostess Fruit Pie

78. Snail

79. Lapsang Souchong (I drink this near daily.)

80. Bellini

81. Tom Yum

82. Eggs Benedict

83. Pocky

84. 3 Michelin Star Tasting Menu

85. Kobe beef

86. Hare

87. Goulash

88. Flowers

89. Horse

90. Criollo chocolate

91. Spam

92. Soft shell crab

93. Rose harissa

94. Catfish

95. Mole poblano

96. Bagel and lox

97. Lobster Thermidor

98. Polenta

99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee

100. Snake (If only that one roommate I had had years ago had made a batch of his rattlesnake chili...)

It looks like I've got some eating to do...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Finding balance in the PRB*

I suddenly have a lot of posts bouncing around in my head -- perhaps because my weekend was so full. I thought I'd start with the easy one first.

Today was "me" day. The family members who I know really care are totally respectful of this idea. The idea that at least one day a week has to be completely mine. If I have that, then I can deal with all of the rest of the stuff.

I awoke at 8:00 a.m. with all these thoughts of what needed to be done. By noon after much thought, I realized that they didn't need to be done today. Well, especially those things that involve driving. Those can wait until tomorrow evening when I will be in my car because I have to drive to work. So I caught up on TV viewing and took a nap.

Around 4:00 I headed out to the library. I finally managed to finish two of the Stephanie Plum books I had checked out weeks ago. Only four more to go and I will be caught up on the series. Of course, returning the books could have waited until tomorrow as well as I pass the library on my way to work every morning. But I had items on hold. This would be a result of the Netflix meltdown during this past week. It dawned on me that some of the older titles on my list might just be available at the public library. They were -- and were already checked out so I put in hold requests. But this is just the why of the walk. The walk itself was the more important part to me.

As I neared the BART station, I could hear the sounds of music over a P.A. system. The "Free Tibet" group was set up there once more. Apparently this is the new hot protesting thing in Berkeley. There haven't been protests in front of the Marines recruiting center for months. And somehow magically around the same time that those ended, the "Free Tibet" marches started. The one I saw on Friday night as I was leaving for Sacramento was at least two blocks long. Anywho. I gladly took a flyer from one of the adorable children handing them out. Actually it was more of a race as two of the kids made a beeline for me, rushing to see who could get to me first. It made me smile. Enough that the homeless guy I passed had to comment. Something along the lines of, "Keep on smiling. Yeah. I'm talking to you."

The return was all about food. I needed gelato. Really. But Naia is still down to two cases instead of the three they used to have and there was no cardamom. *sigh* So I trudged on.

There was a quick stop at Astronomico's (This is Marin's name for the place and I kind of like it.) to pick up canned food. I just didn't have the energy to walk to Berkeley Bowl to save fifty cents a can. Besides I just needed a few to tie me over until I could stop at Berkeley Bowl on my way home from work this week. But I thought of Zombie Mom while in the store as I saw a woman pulling a child in a red wagon down an aisle.

And I remembered how I didn't get the tuna the last time I hit my fave takeout spot. But I still needed gelato -- and maybe sorbet -- so I headed over to Ciao Bella. And I guess it was a good thing that Naia didn't have the flavor I wanted because I suddenly remembered that if I used my debit card at Ciao Bella, I could earn airline miles. By the way, I ended up with blood orange sorbet and rose petal gelato, if you're interested.

On my way home with all of my goodies (Tucked away into one of the many tote bags I received while teaching. I felt so "Berkeley."), I saw what was probably the most interesting site. A woman was power-washing the sidewalk in front of her house. I found myself thinking, "Aren't we supposed to be conserving water? How did she get into Berkeley? I mean at Marin's house they have a bucket in the tub to catch some of the runoff water from the shower to use for watering." OK. I mostly thought this because I was forced to walk in the street. Her back was to me and she could not hear me approaching because of the noise of the washer. So while walking in the street to avoid getting wet, I thought of the other stuff.

Ahhh. But how to conclude this all? As I feasted on the tuna, eggplant and potato puffs, I got sucked into "Confessions of a Go-Go Girl" on Lifetime. By the end I had a few questions. Because even a cheesy Lifetime movie leaves me asking questions.

Are all women who take their clothes off for a living unhappy? Why do people say it's degrading? Aren't you "selling yourself" at just about any job? But then I got to thinking about how women our often objectified in our society. It all gets back to that double standard. Women are being told that men like them to act in a certain way and then are punished for doing exactly that. Oh, and please do not mention religious morality to me. Those books were written by men. And no, I am not trashing religion. It's just that I have issues with a man writing about how a woman should behave and then masking it all in religious beliefs. Or those men who choose to interpret passages in this manner.

So this is the stuff I will be pondering while I write my next couple of posts. Until then.

* Whenever I use the acronym "PRB," I always mean "The People's Republic of Berkeley." It's from my childhood. No matter for what others may now use the acronym, it will always mean this to me. Maybe one day I'll get around to adding a glossary to the sidebar.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The person I wish I was

I don't discuss it much here but I watch a great deal of reality TV. Currently I am watching "From G's to Gents," "New York Goes to Hollywood," "BB10," "Brooke Knows Best," "Project Runway," "Shear Genius," "Date My Ex," "I Love Money," and "Flippin' Out." OK. So "Flippin' Out" ended this week but the reunion show was so hilarious, I know that I may have to watch it a few more times. Just to see Jeff with his business partner's daughter. "Bad baby." And "I Love Money"? I call it "Best of the Skanks." And into this the summer series of "The Closer," "Psych," "Monk," and "Mad Men"...

Long before I discovered reality TV though, I was into "Vanity Fair." I've had a subscription for too many years to count. And I usually read each issue from cover to cover. Over the last year I have not quite met this monthly goal. As part of the "taking care of me" plan, I decided that I needed to start this practice once more. And what a great issue to do this.

I started my reading during lunch today. I decided to save the article on Carla Bruni for later reading and instead read about the recent presidential election in Zimbabwe. As I read the article, I teared up a few times. How could people treat one another in that way? And how could the rest of the world stand by silently for so long while it happened? (OK. They are both "silly" questions. Both are a part of the history of the world unfortunately.)

My dad made a couple of trips to Zimbabwe during the mid-90s with the Chamber of Commerce. The items in the photos were my souvenirs from those trips. He and my stepmother told me tales of this wondrous land. And there were also the numerous photos my stepmother took. (My dad had several of them enlarged into posters and framed them.) I wanted to go and see it all for myself. And then things became unstable.

I didn't think about traveling to Zimbabwe anymore until I read the article. Because as I read the article, I became angry. My first thought was to hop on a plane to Harare and to help in the struggle for democracy -- since that seems to be what the people there want. If they wanted communism or some other form of government, I would feel just as passionately about it all.

And then I heard my mother's voice in my head. "You will go over there and open your mouth and then they will kill you." In younger days the words "they will kill you" were instead "you will get arrested." While my family views me as a rebel, I know in my heart that I am a long way from that point. My true self was not that afraid of being arrested. It was the reaction of my parents that scared me more. The same goes for the dying thing. When one has spent the good part of one's life trying to kill one's self off, the idea of dying in itself is not that frightening. The only part of it all that scares me now is dying before I've had a chance to do all the things that I want to accomplish. I am sure that one day I will find a cause and drop everything to rush off to be a part of it all. Because I know that this is a large part of who I am -- who I want to be.

In the meantime, I am trying to think of other things that I could do. My first thought was to write this post. Because I don't think that we hear enough in the U.S. about the living conditions of others outside of this country. Especially if it is a lesser developed country. No, that term doesn't seem completely right in describing Zimbabwe.

To stop all of these thoughts, I read the article on supermodels of the 90s when I got home. Next I'll finish the one on Carla Bruni. And maybe somewhere along the way I'll have a sudden epiphany about how I can stop feeling helpless in wanting to help those who seem to need so much.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Worn out places, worn out faces

Stuff happens and I do a lot of processing. Or at least that's what Marin says. She also says that I, like her, am a stuffer. As in stuff those feelings into a closet in one's mind to be dealt with another day. But that's another post. This is the stuff that I forgot to include yesterday. I don't know why. Perhaps I needed to let it marinate some more.

Last week Hilly wrote a post about friendship. Reading it, of course, brought some of my recent questions to the forefront of my mind. I've never made a list; perhaps I should. Sure there are things that irritate the hell out of me but for some people, I will forgive them these things. And perhaps that makes me an idiot.

Over the last month I have seen people act in ways in which I would have never expected. No, that's the wrong word. Crap! I don't know the word but all I know that is that the support I have gotten from others has reminded me why I call them friends. And then there are the others.

A part of me questions whether it is time to end a friendship. I wanted to put the word friendship in quotes because I have started to wonder if the relationship is even that.

The weekend that my aunt died, I called this friend and told her what had happened. Two weeks later I had heard nothing from her -- and a mutual friend had even asked during that two week span if I had heard from this other friend. Nope. When we spoke two weeks later, it was because I called. And I remember thinking, "It never dawned on you to call me to say, 'Hey. How are you doing?'" I didn't say this but I know that if I had called her on her shit, she would have felt bad and responded "properly." It's just that one almost always has to call her on her shit at times like these. And I'm tired.

Then I started thinking about how maybe just once more my mother had been right all these years. She has told me for many years that my friend was too self-absorbed to truly notice anyone else.

And so now I toy with the idea of walking away from a 35-year friendship. Because I think that my friend walked away years ago. Or maybe she wasn't ever really a friend in the way that I define it now. She is just someone with whom I experienced a great deal of my life.

Monday, August 11, 2008

One is the magic number

Over this past weekend I thought of many blog posts. The problem was that there seemed to be some overlap in my thoughts so I decided to throw it all together into one of those rambling kind of posts that Nat enjoys so much.

Last week was a hellacious week for me. I'll admit it. I had hit pretty near bottom mentally. As a result I just could not get rid of that tired feeling.

I had promised my dad that I would spend the weekend in Sacramento. But there were things I really needed to take care of at home first. Friday evening found me finally doing some straightening up around my apartment. While eating dinner, I toyed with the idea of going out. I kept thinking, "But I'm so tired." Going out won out though and I headed out around 8:00.

Once at my bar, I grabbed a cocktail and headed out to the outdoor area so that I could drink and smoke. And since I was alone, I pulled out the iPhone to play some games. (Normally I would have pulled out a book but none of my current reading choices fit into my purse.) And as I sat there half-asleep, I told myself that I would leave after a couple of drinks -- the minimum that I would have to order in order to use my debit card.

Yeah. Two drinks. That was before I met the young woman who shared my love of all things Kate Spade. We both agreed that prior to finding Kate Spade, we never were that into purses. But Kate's stuff is different; it's timeless art.

And then Random Boy showed up. And then I ran into Married Guy. Who decided that Friday night was a good time to share the fact that he's always wanted to get into my pants. Uh yeah. And then there was a third guy. At one point I was talking to all three. And letting them decide who should pay for my drinks.

Then the band started. I haven't laughed so hard in quite some time. The way I put it was that they were the kind of band that if you heard a CD, you'd say, "They're OK." And then you see them live and are totally freaked out. Because the lead singer/guitarist thought that he was some sort of god of rock. At least that's what I decided from his facial expressions and behavior. And he so was not godlike.

Sacramento was out of the question for Saturday. I needed caffeine, fat, and carbs. And a little more sleep. But Sunday? I felt like me for the first time in weeks. I wanted to stay at home and bask in my me-ness but I remembered promising my dad that I would show up at some point during the weekend.

Suddenly I had "Cats in the Cradle" going through my head. (I've loved that song since childhood.) Why? Because I thought to myself that if I blew off going to Sacramento, my dad would be greatly disappointed. And then I remembered all those times that I sat around waiting for a guy who would never show up when I was a kid. And then I thought, "Karma's a bitch," but then remembered that I'm a better person than that. So I drove the 160 miles round-trip to spend a few hours with my dad.

My dad kept asking, "What can I do for you?" Finally I knew the answer. "Respect the boundaries I set." It dawned on me that over the last month or so, I haven't really done much of anything that was purely for me -- unless you count sleeping. It was time to start setting -- and enforcing -- boundaries. Part of these new boundaries will be making sure that I have time to go out and laugh and dance and talk about things other than work or my family. As long as this happens, I can get through just about anything.

Today I still felt like me. So much so that I braved Berkeley Bowl this evening -- with a shopping cart. (The trick is to never take the cart down the aisles.) I usually try to keep the Berkeley Bowl shopping down to the what-can-fit-in-the-hand-basket level. But I needed paper products. Desperately. (No, I was not out yet but it was going to happen some time this evening.) And this time I shopped mainly the perimeter of the store for the first time in weeks. (This means that I bought fresh stuff instead of the prepared stuff upon which I have been surviving for most of the past month.)

Coq au Riesling

Thank you, Zoomie for sharing the recipe. I used six thighs. I also followed Zoomie's advice and upped the mushrooms to about a cup and a half or so as well as using about four to five cloves of garlic. Oh, and I used three ounces of pancetta instead of the one ounce the recipe calls for. And since there was so much more stuff in the pan, I doubled the wine and cream. I like things saucy. Now I have a few servings packed individually in the fridge as well as a couple of servings in the freezer.

There's more chicken marinating in yogurt in the fridge. Butter Chicken tomorrow night! And maybe I'll finally go through that issue of Bon Appetit that showed up recently.

So yeah, I'm back.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Representing the Yay

Y'all thought that I was kidding yesterday, didn't you? Teach you to have doubts when the Empress makes a proclamation.

The receptionist at work is deeply into Facebook. Last week she came across this list -- a list of things that prove that one is from the Bay. There was much laughter involved. And the occasional, "Everyone doesn't do that? What?" So let's get onto the list -- with my commentary.

Gas prices are a dollar more than anywhere else in the country.

"We got purple.. we got graaaaapes!" We have the best damn weed in the country. Everyone knows it and anyone who doesn't live here is jealous. Might have to do with our close proximity to Humboldt. Also reminds me of Sunday night at my bar. Not that I smoke because me on drugs? Way scary thought for most folks.

Thizz is your term for E pills.

Broadway is not the plays and theater ... but the bars and stripclubs. Also the reason why when I used to hit the bars around there, guys used to ask which club I worked in. I can't help the way that I dance at times.

Stupid, Dumb, n Hyphy are your descriptive words for a party/club that you went to. Check out the video at the end of this post if you are unclear with these concepts.

Ghost ridin' your car and rollin' with your doors open is the cool shit to do. Nope. That's a cool way to kill yourself. And I think of the Dubs every time I hear "ghost ridin'."

Underage drinkin' starts at the age of 12. What else are you supposed to do when hanging on the pier at the Berkeley marina?>

You've laughed at the Bushman at Fisherman's Wharf.

You've paid money to the robot man dressed in all silver. The robot man is the sheezay.

You've seen Alcatraz from a distance ... but never go. Yep, never been there. That's a tourist thing to do. And one day some tourist will come to town who insists that we go there.

You know someone who runs in the Bay to Breakers every year ... usually naked. I'm not sure about naked but I do know some Hot Tamales.

You can't smoke in restaurants, clubs, bars, or 25 feet near a door of a business. Not sure about this one. Obviously the person has been hanging at the wrong places.

While going over the bridge you think to yourself, what if another earthquake happened right now? After seeing the post-Loma Prieta photos (I was outside of the area at the time.), I try my best not to think about this kind of stuff while crossing bridges.

You went to Club X/City Nights when you were 16 or 17. Ummm. Why would you go there when you were older?

When you hear "I got 5 on it", you yell "Oakland!"
First of all, you're not supposed to yell out? And if it is OK, what the hell else are you going to say? Because when I was at that firefighter party with Jade and the DJ played this song, everyone called out, "Oakland. Smokin'," at the right point in the song. I think it's the unofficial song for Oakland.

When you from Richmond you holla out, Yee!Yee! Not so sure about this one. Must be some new shit since I left Richmond.

You know exactly who: Mac Dre, Keak Da Sneak, Richie Rich, Spice 1, Turf Talk, The Team, Federation, Mistah FAB, E-40 are... Doesn't everyone? And I've gotta thank my former students in east Oakland for teaching me what "ripper" and "runner" mean. Hint -- they're synonyms.

You've called into Wild 94.9 sayin "St. John you so fierce!" I listen to him regularly but I refuse to say those words -- unless the prize is primo.

You listen to Wild 94.9, 106.1 KMEL, or Live 105 everyday. First three preset buttons on the my car radio.

You actually know a bum or crackhead by face or name. You mean that you're not supposed to?

You've been to a Giants game and seen the Rally Pumpkin.

You've been to an A's Wednesday $1 night. I probably have been but I don't like the cheap seats. I need to be on the third base line.

You've tailgated at the coliseum. Gotta say "no" to this. Raider Nation? Scares the crap out of me -- and there isn't much that scares me.

Ridin' the yellow not actually ridin' the yellow bus. Well, duh.

You've seen or been to the Chinese New Year Parade. Yep.

You know someone who is a DJ, or tryin' to become a rap artist. And?

There are many white kids in the high-class suburban areas thinkin' they are from Oakland. And then they get their asses kicked.

You get charged an arm and a leg to go across a damn bridge. Hell yeah. I remember the days when you could give the toll person a roll of pennies and roll on.

You own a pair of stunnas. I did. Then they broke. I need to head out to get another pair. Can't lean properly in the car without them.

You know the words to "California Love." You mean that there are people who don't? Oh, and I've always thought that the sign near the beginning of the video was missing a word. It should read, "Welcome to Oakland biotches."

You've been to a concert/rave at the Shoreline. Why would I go to a concert at that toxic waste dump? Obviously a young 'un wrote the list. Someone older? Would have definitely said Day on the Green.

You or a friend have Gas, Break, Dipped in front of a club. Doesn't everyone?

You've gigged on the dance floor.

"YADDYAMEAN" or "SHABOOBALABOOPY" comes out of your mouth at least once a day. Not sure about the second but hell yeah I do the first.

You've been to the Cow Palace for some event. My mother would not allow me to go there. Something about drugs and violence. Whatever.

You know exactly where Pier 39 is. Of course I do. Gotta avoid the tourists.

You got a piercing or tattoo on Telegraph. Check. Need to go back for the tattoo though. Not sure if I'll hit Zebra for the ink. They do a fan-fucking-tastic job with piercings though.

You are still confused why Cal State Hayward changed to Cal State East Bay. It's still Cal State Hayward in my mind.

You know "Goin' Dumb" is a dance ... not an insult to your intelligence. Once more -- duh.

You always represent your area code. Shout out to the 5-1-0. Oh, and hell. Shout out to the 7-0-7. Area code of Vallejo. Home of E-40. Birthplace of my "real parents."

You say "HELLA" at least 50 times in one conversation. Depends on the conversation. Could be more. Could be less.


Just be happy that I couldn't find my favorite Too $hort song, "Invasion of the Flat Booty Bitches."

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Another one of those posts

Still riding that roller coaster.

Last Monday my stepmother went back into the hospital because she had a seizure at home. This Monday the doctors told my father that my stepmother needed to enter another facility instead of returning home. Yesterday they told him they estimate she has another three weeks to live. It's been less than three weeks since my aunt's funeral.

Yesterday I overslept for work. Again. I had problems falling asleep Monday night. So yesterday I got the talk from my boss. He was saying crap about how maybe the job is too stressful for me and maybe it just wasn't a right fit. Today the president of the company said how they needed me to be focused at work. I heeded the advice that Marin gave me yesterday. I bit my tongue. And instead I spent a day at work having panic attacks all day long. At least that's what I think it was. All I know was that periodically it felt like someone had reached their hand into my chest and was squeezing. I couldn't breathe during these moments and thought that I would pass out. And then I got home tonight and it all stopped.

I don't know what the hell people expect. I'm coping as best as I can. Sometimes I'm really sad. At other times, I'm pissed off beyond belief.

Anywho. I'm getting kind of tired of writing these kind of posts. I have all these other happier posts either already written and saved or bouncing around inside my head. I'd rather post that stuff.

After writing this, I headed over to Jester's and decided to take the quiz. I remember doing it in the past. Can't remember the results then.

ColorQuiz.comDagny took the free personality test!

"Desires a tranquil, peaceful state of harmony offe..."

Click here to read the rest of the results.

I think they need to get out of my head. And maybe I should have just headed over to the quiz to start off with.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Passing time

Before all the stuff went down with my aunt, I stumbled across the perfect post. In fact I was editing this post in my head up until the point that I learned that she had died. And then life took over and it got shelved. But I knew that one day I would have to post it.

I had decided back in May that I absolutely needed to have an iPhone. (And when I got the call telling me that I needed to rush to the hospital, it was on my new iPhone. But I'm getting ahead of myself.) Then I started reading the rumors that a new phone would be introduced. I knew that I should wait until June 9th for the announcement of the release date of the new phone at that point. I had hoped that the date would be before my birthday but it's just as well that it wasn't. I needed to wait for my birthday loot. And I had enough to get the 16G. Thing is that I decided that sleep and comfort were more important to me. I didn't get to the Berkeley store until 7:45 even though I had been up since 6:00. I still kick myself for that decision. The guy in line in front of me got the last 16 from the store and I had to settle for an 8. I was told that I could order the 16 and wait 7 days for it or I could take the 8 and if I decided that I really wanted the 16, I could bring it back when they got more 16's and pay the 10% restocking fee.

This was not the entertaining stuff though. While in line, some homeless guy walked past. And he started singing a song about how there were no more revolutionaries in Berkeley as they had all been replaced by yuppies. Most of us in line had to laugh. That was our mistake. He then realized that he had an audience.

As he chowed down on his oatmeal in a paper cup that he had gotten from the shelter, he proceeded to share his views of the world with us. There were the evils of capitalism. Then somehow we ended up on how homosexuality was wrong. He also was kind enough to point out to us that most gay men reside in San Francisco while Berkeley is filled with lesbians. And the worst part of these lesbians? Instead of laying with a man they use "artificial insimulation" to become pregnant. And no, that was not a typo on my part. These were his exact words. I shit you not.

He then shared his belief that people needed to find religion -- instead of pirate stuff. I mean pirates as in ummm pirates. He told us that Jesus walked into the temple and told them to get that shit out of there. A young woman in line behind me had issue with his use of "Jesus" and "shit" in the same sentence. He then informed us that Jesus was a Jew. Gee. I never knew that. And then suddenly we were on the topic of Islam -- his apparent preferred religion.

I believe that it was around this point one of the guys in line asked him about his food. There was a discussion about fruit and then he suddenly exclaimed, "Look how the white devil has tried to distract me from my real point. They do that." Of course, later on he tried to clean things up by pointing out that not all white people were evil. I think this was after he said something about some blacks being hypnotized and forgetting their culture. Uh huh.

Then somehow we found ourselves back on the topic of homosexuality. Well, some of the folk in the line had had enough and were speaking back. The people near me -- as well as myself -- had decided that it was best to ignore him. If he had no active audience, he would stop and go away. I couldn't help but whisper to the folks around me my take on the lesbian comment though.

"These women he's met in Berkeley? They're not all lesbians. They just don't want to be with him."

And then there were some chuckles. Well, after the women explained to the guys that sometimes we -- women -- say stuff like that to get rid of undesirable guys. I still wonder how many of them were re-evaluating past encounters with women.

All I could think was if he was my last chance for procreation, it was time for the human race to end.

So when he got back to homosexuality, some folks decided that they had had enough. Cellphones started coming out.

"Oh! Look at the white man pulling out his phone. He's probably calling the police. Doesn't he understand? This is Berkeley."

And the guy was right. He wasn't a danger to himself or others. The cops may have asked him to move along but that would have been it. He was on a public street after all. And if the PRB and free speech are not synonymous, then I don't know what else is. And you know what? That would have been OK with me. Stuff like this? This is why I chose to live in Berkeley. I love the fact that I never know what I'll encounter when walking down the street.

And this is one of the stories that I would have shared with my aunt. Actually as it was all going down, I thought to myself, "I have to call her when she has recovered from her chemo so that I can tell her about. I know she'll appreciate it." It's part of what has made the past few weeks hard. My life is now filled with moments that I'd love to share with her but can no longer do so. I've gotten past the crying a few times a day. (Perhaps learning yesterday that my stepmother will never be coming home again has replaced that pain. But I wasn't really surprised to learn that.) And my aunt's still one of the contacts on my cellphone. I just don't have the heart to delete it quite yet. Just like her birthday is still on my Outlook calendar.

But today I'm no longer kicking myself. Today I turned in my 8G for the 16G I ordered a couple of weeks ago. Because I'm still in my return period. So yeah there was a 10% restocking fee but I got the joy of practicing with the 8G for three weeks while waiting for my 16G. And so now while avoiding certain family members like the plague, I'm also trying to remind myself to enjoy the little things in life.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Trying to find my way back

I took last Thursday and Friday off from work and spent most of the two days sleeping. That helped a great deal.

When Friday evening brought another family brouhaha -- one that made me want to hop in my car immediately and drive to Sacramento so that I could kick some ass -- I passed off the stress to another relative. Hell. He hasn't been doing anything for the last couple of weeks besides trying to figure out what of my aunt's stuff he's going to pack up and take with him -- NOT! -- and eating and drinking lots. Oh, and the drinking lots is not a coping thing for him; it's a way of life. Because how often can you call someone at 10 a.m. only to discover that the other person is already three sheets to the wind?

Then I made the ultimate escape -- I went to stay with Dumb and Dumber for the weekend. We had a lovely time. I made sure not to play any movies with explosions or barking dogs and they kept their craziness down to a minimum.

As a result, I think I may be back on regular sleep patterns. And eating as well. To celebrate the occasion, I thought I'd treat myself to some stuff from Gregoire's.

But before I get too far ahead of myself, let me go back to July. Apparently during Sizzle's romp through Berkeley, she passes Gregoire. She did not realize that it was the place of the photos. But I do recall her saying something about the guy behind the grill. Before all the crazy hit, I meant to post these photos -- what Sizzle missed on the July menu.

Buffalo wings.

Pork loin stuffed with leeks and pancetta.

But now it's August and there's a whole new menu. I put my choices out to vote. I figured that I would do one of my combos since they had a vegetarian item that sounded appealing as well as some meat and seafood choices that seemed to call my name as well. Then I thought to myself, "Do I really feel like cooking this week? And didn't I just earn some money from dogsitting?"

Grilled pork loin medallions, parmesan & truffle butter.

Roasted eggplant with bell pepper & herbed goat cheese.

And no photo but I did also pick up the raspberry bread pudding as well. I was going to get the tuna as well but then they called me back to say that they were out. Another night.

And now that I'm eating again, perhaps I'll soon be inspired to actually cook once more.

Note: Tomorrow I'll also probably get around to posting the answers to the songs.