Monday, May 6, 2013

Second Life

Ryan recently learned about Second Life in a business computer class, and he opened an account to explore the site. While he marveled at the size of the virtual world, looked for philosophy meet-ups, and brainstormed business applications, these were my biggest questions:

Can you make your avatar dance?
How about ballet?
Like good ballet?
Do they have pointe shoes and tutus?
Are there dance companies?
Are there dance performances with other avatars?
Could my avatar be a professional ballerina and dance in a show?
Can you dance in public places, like parks and train stations?
Can you fly while dancing?

Can you kill someone in Second Life?
Do they have jails there?
What happens when you die?

Can you get a pet?
Do they have a virtual Humane Society to adopt it from?
Could I get a dog and a turtle?

Can you have sex in Second Life?
Can you get an STD?
Can you get pregnant?
Can you get an abortion?
If you have children, do they grow up over time?
Could you create two avatars and make them have sex with each other?
Could you create a bunch of avatars and have an orgy?

Wait- you have to pay actual money to buy virtual clothes and stuff!?

Who has time for a second life? I don't have enough time for my first one.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


I recently dreamed that I was auditioning for America's Got Talent, only I didn't have an act planned, or even a talent. As I waited in the wings with a number pinned to my chest, I racked my brain for a talent to develop in the next ten minutes. I just needed to think of something that required no skill, that I could create an act around by the time they called my name. Then my mom showed up and asked about my act, and reality sunk in. I realized that I had no talent, could never come up with an act that fast, and dejectedly withdrew from the audition.

This silly little dream is profoundly representative of my life. I have always been drawn to creative types-- musicians, artists, writers, actors, circus performers... anyone with an artistic inclination. I myself have a small spark of creativity, a love of performing tempered by bouts of shyness, and no skill. I never performed in a school talent show, but I frequently MC'ed them, because my biggest talent is talking loudly in public. When I was a child, I had two aspirations: 1. Become a professional lip-syncher and 2. Become a back-up aerobics dancer in Kathy Smith fitness VHS's. Even my greatest fantasies were limited to a fake-talent and the supporting cast (of aerobics videos no less).

The audition dream has inspired me to write a series of blog posts about my failed creative endeavors: dancing, singing, acting, art, fashion design and writing.

I also bombed at the following but my stints were too short for blogging fodder: jewelry-making, greeting card designing, baton twirling, magic, and clowning.

Coming soon-- the talent (or lack-thereof) series...

Sunday, March 10, 2013

$1 or Best Offer

A real conversation with my parents in the living room while Ryan is in the bedroom:

Dad: You guys want to watch a show; I have Suburgatory, Being Human...?

Me: No, I think we're going to hang out in the back.

Mom: I think Ryan wants to spend some time with his wife. Or she wants to spend some time with her husband. (wink, wink)

Dad: Well Ryan had a lot of pizza tonight, so keep your expectations low.

Me: Ohmygod, Dad!!

Uproarious laughter...

Me: Geez, Dad! Thanks for the head's up. Let me go check and see if he wants to watch something with you.

Mom: No wonder they can't make babies, Bruce-- you are always watching TV with him!

More laughter...

Mom: Did you ever think you'd be having these discussions with your parents?

Me: Nope! You guys are hilarious. Hey, can I put this conversation in my blog?

Mom: Sure.

Dad: You mean hypothetically or about your parents?

Me: Who else would be asking me this stuff? You want me to write about hypothetical people telling us to make babies?

Mom: Put in this part of the conversation too.

Me: OK, I will. Let me check what Ryan wants to do.

I go talk to Ryan and return.

Me: Yeah, so we're just going to hang out in the room and talk and stuff.

Dad: Good. Keep me posted.

Me: Awk-ward. Goodnight!

This is what it's like when you're a married adult living with parents who are ready for grandchildren. Your menstrual cycle is a fair topic of conversation and your dad knows when it's "your time of the month." He frequently motions his head toward your bedroom,"Hey, it's Saturday night. Why don't you two go..."

Twelve years ago Dad worried about me spending the night with my boyfriend. Now his nudge basically says, "Please go have lots of unprotected sex with my daughter in my house."

As a middle-class White American, I know that I'm expected to feel some shame for living with my parents at my age. But I'm not seeing the downside of free housing (with house-cleaning service every two weeks!), provided by two people who I love and am proud to call my parents. After Ryan and I calculated that a year here is the only way we can save enough to start a family in the next decade, my birth control became a negotiation tactic for extending our residence beyond the original two-month plan. Let's be honest: if we were of a different ethnic/cultural heritage, my parents would not be so weirded out that their thirty-something gainfully employed children want to live with them.

So how did we get here?

April 2009- We buy and move into a house.
Aug-Sept 2011- Ryan gets a job as a private chef and we move onto the property of his employer. There is only space to bring over a fraction of our belongings. We* buy and build new Ikea furniture.
Oct 2011- March 2012- We fix up the house to rent and move everything we own into the basement for storage.
April 2012- We sell the house instead and move out everything that we just moved into the basement.
Aug 2012- Ryan gets an offer for an executive chef position. In a week we move out of his employer's house and in with my parents as a "pit stop" until we decide where to live.

The night after we move in Ryan sighs jokingly to my mom, "Ugh, I'm so tired of moving. We're never moving again!"

Did I mention that during our last move we get unjustly served with a lawsuit from the people who bought our house, and have to go to small claims court?
But I am not going to write about that.
Instead I will focus on the liberating experience of purging ourselves of stuff:

$1 Or Best Offer
More Crap in the Rear!

It is staggering how much junk you can accumulate if you never throw away anything. I found boots with broken zippers that I planned to fix and stained clothes that I planned to dye (I've never actually mended an article of apparel in my life). I found every single movie ticket stub and theater program from every show I had seen since junior high school. I am not exaggerating; every single one. I found party favors from every wedding I attended, including one with candy from 8 years ago. I found all the crap that Ryan and I had bought to decorate our first apartment-- vases of potpourri, seashells and bath toys, unopened candles, unused picture frames.

All in all, we discarded over 50 trash bags of garbage and recycling, donated several car loads of books and clothes to Goodwill, and sold our furniture and household goods for $1300 at a garage sale. It took weeks to sort, bag, box and move it all. I never want to own so much stuff again.

Love it, use it, or lose it. This is something I learned from a Feng Shui workshop at my office last year. The instructor taught us the importance of de-cluttering; things take up energy-- you have to look at them, clean them, move them. So you ask for each object: Do you use it? Not plan to someday use it, but actually use it now. If not, do you love it? Not like it, love it. Maybe it's not useful, but it carries deep emotional value. If you don't use it or love it, then lose it, because it's just wasting space in your life. As a habitual pack rat, I would have been paralyzed with indecisiveness if I didn't have the love-use-lose mantra for my purging process.

Lessons from Garage Sale Purging:
  • Stuff that was once precious looks like junk laid out on your front lawn. It's easier to get rid of stuff seeing it out of context.
  • People will take anything that's free. Broken chairs, grungy Tupperware with missing lids, used wrapping paper. So save yourself the junk-hauling expense and put out boxes of "FREE!" garbage. It helps if you live in a working class neighborhood like we did. If we tried to hold the same garage sale in Stanford, a neighbor would probably call the cops for littering, loitering and all-around decreasing their property value. 
  • A garage sale is a great way to get to know your neighbors. We found out that ours were really nice, and wish we had met them when we first moved in, instead of on our way out. A lady insisted on helping us merchandise everything so it looked more appealing; a man wanted to give us bootleg DVD's in exchange for all the free crap he scored; a family seemed genuinely disappointed that we were moving. 
  • Finding someone to treasure your old stuff is more gratifying than hanging onto it yourself. Just when I was having second thoughts about selling a theater anthology textbook and was going to fish it out of a box, I saw a highschooler hugging it to her chest. She squealed with delight over my autographed Avenue Q poster and Anthony Rapp book, and also picked up a Rent DVD (don't freak out; we have another copy). How special to see my old treasures cherished once again by a fellow theater geek!
  • A good deal will generate buzz. Put out enough stuff for free or unreasonably cheap, and neighbors will start calling their friends to come join the shopping spree. One woman must have furnished her whole office with our second-hand furniture. She left her daughter to guard the loot so she could make several trips because it didn't all fit in her car.
  • Don't think about what you paid for things when negotiating, or you'll just get angry and depressed that you're selling them for so much less than they're worth. Instead, think about how much effort it would take to get rid of everything-- re-posting on Craigslist or boxing it all up to donate. Be grateful these people are paying you to haul away your junk. Take it, take it all!

I did find some gems during the moving process-- mainly things from my childhood like pointe shoes, letters from friends at summer camp, and yearbooks. I made myself part with the less meaningful gradeschool artifacts like homework assignments, report cards and "participation" certificates. I had a lot of those; apparently I was really, really good at participating. I can't remember whether I decided to keep my sticker collection or Yosemite Junior Ranger badge.

I am excited to announce one particularly exciting find during the moving excavation, something to showcase here on my blog for your entertainment, something even more mortifying than my diary entries... drumroll please:


Really bad poetry that I wrote in elementary school.

"Did you forget about the tape of you singing?" Ryan interjects. He reviews all my blog posts before publishing, and reminds me of something even more humiliating that we found in the basement.
"Ohmygod, I did forget about that."
"You singing showtunes into a little tape recorder, acapella."
"I still have no idea when I recorded that or why. That was by far the most embarrassing find. I will add that to the blog."

I will not share my hideous off-key singing, but I will share my hideous poetry. Coming soon!

*Ryan would also like me to clarify that he did all the Ikea furniture building.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Clumsy McGee

I am a walking disaster of flying food. A couple nights ago I bumped my head on a cabinet while carrying a bowl of soup, and splashed tomato broth all over the kitchen. Last night a tub of raisins flew out of my hands, and I had to extract raisins from every nook and cranny in the cupboard. Just now I exploded a bag of microwave popcorn kernels all over the hotel desk and floor. In fact, if I am in a hotel, I am guaranteed to be covered in popcorn. Covered. Absentmindedly emotional-eating while working, popcorn crumbs all over the chair and my shirt. I once had a dream that I'd spilled popcorn on my cat-- when I started brushing him, I realized there were bucketfuls of popcorn under his fur, and I had to shake him out.

Liz Lemon has Trix up her sleeve. I've got cereal up mine too, and also nuts and raisins and popcorn. And frequently all of the above down my shirt. My husband doesn't help my cause; he thinks it's hilarious to throw grapes down my cleavage at the dinner table.

Want to know where I've been and what I've been eating? Just follow the trail of evidence. Once Ryan came home to find peanut butter smeared on a spoon in the sink, on the edge of the counter, on the refrigerator door handle, on my finger, and on the corner of my mouth. The outside of the peanut butter container was oily and the lid wasn't screwed on all the way. I can't wait to have kids to blame it on them. I tried to blame it on the cat but he didn't have food on his face. In fact, Oso has been politely spooning food into his mouth with his paw. Apparently I am the only one in the house who eats like an animal.

Sometimes I feel like the quirky over-the-top character in a romantic comedy who you can't believe is that clumsy. Oh puh-lease, people don't actually fall out of chairs in work meetings or crash into walls while dancing. Well I'm here to tell you that they do. Only in the movies they are usually more charming and less covered with food.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

2012 Top 5 Top Lists

It's time for my traditional belated year-end wrap up of my favorite things. I like to switch it up every year, so for 2012, I'm giving you my Top 5 Top Lists. Most of these are old news to everyone else, but mind-blowing new discoveries for me.

Top 5 Books
5. Off Balance- My boss recommended this book to help me overcome my desire for the mythical "work-life balance," but it only succeeded in making me realize that I needed a different job. I got what I wanted!
4. Animals in Translation- Thought-provoking insights into animal intelligence from the perspective of Temple Grandin.
3. The Vow- Inspiring true-life story of a wife who loses all memory of her husband, and how they rebuild their marriage.
2. Blankets- This is the most beautiful, artistic graphic novel I've ever read.
1. Ant Farm and Free Range Chickens- Simon Rich is a genius. He takes ordinary experiences, twists them around to examine from a fresh perspective, and morphs them into hilarity.

Top 4 Things to Watch
4. American Horror Story Season 1- Horrifically creative, flawlessly acted, psychologically creepy and full of twists. I wish season 2 had the same fun-factor instead of being so slasher-gory.
3. Walk Off the Earth- The band members impressively play multiple instruments (often during a single song) and their covers are infinitely cooler than the originals. Equally fun to see live and on YouTube.
2. Pitch Perfect- To date I have seen this movie 4 times. I also downloaded the soundtrack, went to a friend's acapella performance, and started searching for acapella competitions to attend this year. I have officially rediscovered acapella and I'm aca-obsessed.
1. Dakaboom- Ryan and I love these guys so much, we drive over two hours to their annual holiday show. They are ridiculously talented with a unique contemporary vaudeville act that I can't find anywhere else. Their holiday songs with hidden inappropriate lyrics are sublime.

Top 3 Places to Exercise
3. UJam Fitness Classes- Have you ever seen those movies where there's a dance class, and everyone magically already knows the routines, and they all high-five and hug each other after each song, and students hop on stage to perform with the energetic cheering teachers, and you think that kind of cheesiness doesn't actually happen anywhere? Well, it does. At a 24 Hour Fitness in San Jose.
2. The Dish- I miss my weekend walk-jog in Stanford. 5-mile loop with a great view, and just a quick stroll from our last apartment.
1. Broadway Dance Center- While my coworkers went to yet another foodie destination for breakfast during our NY trip, I snuck off to take a Broadway Jazz class at this famous studio. They have over 200 drop-in classes every week and they're only $18 a pop!

Top 2 Places to Spend $
2. Running Revolution- I thought I hated running until I found a pair of shoes that makes jogging feel like marshmallow-leaping. The employees analyze your feet, take time to discuss your exercise routine and any injuries, and let you test run shoes around the block. I started sprinting, for fun.
1. Lyfe Kitchen- Refreshing, fast, healthy, affordable, with a stellar gluten-free and vegan menu. My favorite meal is the vegan caesar salad, corn chowder, and an agave-sweetened "cooler" drink.

Top City
Drumroll please...
1. Las Vegas!- A year ago I would have told you that my odds of going to Vegas in 2012 were close to 0. Then I wound up there twice in three months: once for my weekend-of-a-lifetime dance convention, then again on New Year's Eve for a semi-spontaneous wedding. I must keep the what happens in Vegas vow of silence, but I will say that there were fireworks, reality-TV-worthy drama, and an Elvis wedding. The trips brought Ryan and I even closer together. Viva Las Vegas!

Fellow Nor Calians-- Let me know if you want to borrow any books (I love to share), go to an acapella show or work out with me. I also welcome recommendations for fun new stuff to try in 2013.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Oso's Twitter Resignation

I tried to bribe Oso with treats for tweets, but he refuses to go back to Twitter without Tucker. He wrote this statement in apology to those of you who voted for him to continue tweeting:

Dear People and Cats of the Twittersphere,

I am sorry to let you down, but I must decline your request to keep tweeting. My demanding schedule of sleeping and string chasing does not afford me the time to maintain an online presence. Plus, even though I am happy as king of the house without Tucker around to barf on my parade (that guy really did barf a lot), tweeting just wouldn't be the same without him. 

Should you wish to communicate with me or send gifts (sardines and tuna are always appreciated), you can reach me via Mom's new ShonelleyBelly handle.

With all my meow meow,

Before I delete the kitty Twitter account, I want to preserve some of my favorite tweets in memory of all the mischief they caused together:

Best Of Tucker Tweets

Stop following us around and squealing “cute alert.” You’re totally killing our bad-boy tough cat image, Mom.

If I were 100 pounds bigger, I’d murder my people for a slice of deli meat. Not mean, just the truth.

Snacked on an apple core from the trash & left it in the bedroom. So deprived of good food, I’m eating FRUIT. Take pity & gimme some beef

If my a-hole brother doesn’t stop attacking me on the toilet, I swear I’m going to crap in his favorite apple box.

Mom: Did you hide my laptop cord, Tucker? Me: I’m a f$!cking cat, Mom.

Ate another bit of plastic wrap this morning. Mom’s attempt to pry it from my jaw was futile. I shall puke it up in my usual spot later.

Freedom at last! A mad escape! Made it to the bottom step before Dad scooped me up and plopped me back inside the house. Damn. So close.

Ma hugs me all night under her arm like a “stuffed animal”. Please explain. I’m rarely stuffed with that dull dry food she feeds me. Lame

Just finished a game of mouseball with Dad as pitcher. My score: 2 catches & 15 hits. Who’s the cathlete now, Oso?

Things I’ve licked recently: black bean juice off the counter, soy cheese off the floor, plain lettuce from a bowl, coconut water lid...

Meowed and meowed and left a pile of mice in front of the bedroom door, but my selfish people didn’t let me in after they went to bed.

Woke up mom by sneezing all over her face. That’s payback for napping with her arms under the blankets instead of petting me.

Woke up mom by meowing on her chest, licking her lips & pawing her neck. Woke her up to give me a massage to help me go to sleep.

I just stole and ate a big piece of asparagus from the trash. I am a dumpster diver with sophisticated tastes.

Could someone please come over and cook us some pork? Our parents are dicks. They only give us premium cat food and an occasional food scrap

It’s mine, all mine! I jumped on the counter like a ninja & stole pork right out of Dad’s bowl w/out my bell jingling. Mwahahahaha.

Our people go in the magic water box, get soaking wet and shave off all their fur. They do it daily. By choice. Are they crazy?!

Tonight’s score for Steal the Dinner Game: People 8, Cat 0. Their arms will tire from lifting me off the table & I will have victory yet

I kill mice & leave as gifts @ door. Mom says they’re “toys” not sure what that means. Also hunted socks, knee brace & slipper last night

I love humping fleece blankets. Take it you plushy pile of blanket. Oh yeah right there, blanket. Mow. Mow. Oh muh-ow.

Crouched on the table, stalking grilled chicken. I scoot closer silently. And closer. Relaaax mom. Look away. That chicken WILL be mine.

Best Of Oso Tweets

Workin on my kitty comedy: A dog walked into a vet to get “fixed.” He came out a cat. Meow hahaha meow hahaha

Mom got popcorn crumbs all over my back. Don’t ever cuddle your people when they’re emotional-eating.

Mom says she’s going to buy Best Friends Forever necklaces. She’ll wear one half of the heart and put the other half on my collar. Barf.

There is nothing, I repeat nothing more fun than stalking my brother while he’s taking a dump.

If you don’t give me enough playtime, I’ll rebel... by beating the shit out of my brother.

“Play time pls? I love you! Your hair’s pretty.” That’s what I tell Mom daily. At least that’s how Dad translates my meows. Close enough.

Dude. Why is there a toy mouse in my food bowl? Is that for me or are you saving it for later, Tucker?

Mom’s new nicknames for me: Uncle Bobo, Squeaks McGee, and Chunky Hunky Fresh n Funky. Crazy people.

Apron string. Love it. Pom pom on your slippers. Love it. Tucker’s tail. Love it. Your face. Love it. Playtime please? Anyone? Anything...-

Getting bored. Seeking youthful companions for non-stop play time. Please deliver more lost kittens to front yard.

Stalking mom’s glass of water. Why can’t we all share and just drink out of the same glass? We’re family, right?

The folks wish they named me Meatball. No, you may not rename me just cuz you thought of a better name. It’s Oso thank you very much.

Favorite hobby = stalking my brother on the toilet, hitting him in the face as he finishes taking a dump & chasing him from litter box

Dad thinks it would be hilarious to poo in our litter box for Mom to find when she cleans it. Fortunately we convinced him it’s a bad idea.

Mom keeps stepping on me. Don’t tell her I’ve been sneaking up on purpose to collect apology treats.
Woke up to daddy furminating me in my sleep. Sneaky bastard.

Screw our water bowl! I lick up my water from the floor of the bathtub, front of the fridge & people cups I knock over all over the house

Mom won’t stop kissing my face & calling me a “little bobo” in annoying high pitched voice. Blech. Why’d I adopt such cheesy people?

Toy stores are racist! No all-black-cat stuffed toys anywhere. Protest @ ToysRUs @ 12 . Bring picket signs & be ready to pee on merch!

My big brother barfed this weekend and I ate it! Mmm, super yummy second hand salmon. He steals the best stuff from the trash.

Pho the Love of Pho

"I feel like butt and there's nothing else I want to eat tonight."
Ryan raises his eyebrows inquisitively and busts up laughing. "You realize what you just said, baby?"
"What? I said, I feel like butt- Oh. Ew."
What I should have said was "I feel sick and there's nothing but pho that I want to eat tonight." But the only thing I'm eating at this point is my foot... you know, in my mouth.
To my credit, the sentence did have some context:
"Call me crazy but I feel like pho again tonight. My throat is killing me and I'm exhausted; I need some more soup. I feel like butt and there's nothing else I want to eat tonight."

I had pho on Sunday.
I had pho on Monday.
After this conversation I had pho on Tuesday. 

I am a pho-reak (not to be confused with a butt-eating fuh-reak. No offense, Butt Eaters). I come from a family of pho-reaks. You can find a member of my family dining in or taking out at a pho restaurant an average of 3-5 nights a week. My mom, my sister and I don't get real pho though; we get faux pho-- rice noodles, tofu and vegetables. It's the most pho-nomenal satisfying tasty healthy balanced magical meal and it's only $7.50-8.25.

One night I'm walking out the front door and my dad is putting on his shoes to leave.
"Bye Dad, I'm getting pho!"
"Wait, I'm on my way out to get pho too."
"Oh how funny. Are you picking up? I'll get it for you."
"No, I'm eating there, and then bringing some home for Mom. Join me."
"I called mine in already. I don't feel well; I want to eat at home. Want to eat at home together?"
"No, I want to eat at the restaurant. But I could pick up yours and you could eat with Mom."
"No, I'm hungry now."
"Ok then. See you later."
Then we both got in our cars and drove to the exact same restaurant. My dad, my mom and I all ate the same meal, from the same restaurant, on the same night, during the same hour, separately. 

My mom sometimes asks me to pick up pho because she's embarrassed that she's already been there twice in a week. When I pay and a new waiter asks to see my ID (as instructed on my credit card), a waitress jumps in laughing and scolds him, "You don't need to check her ID. She's here ALL the time."

Pho the record, these are my favorite spots for veggie pho: Pho Wagon and Pho Garden. They are the most frequently dialed numbers in my pho-ne aside from my husband and mom, but half those calls are pho-related too.

My love of pho is pho real.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Domestic Damsel in Distress

My husband frequently calls me "impressive" and "amazing." When he does, he's referring to my talent for tangling electronics. My headphones are forever in a jumble, no matter how I try to wrap them neatly around my iPod. The power strip by my nightstand looks like this (on a good day):

Ryan patiently untangles everything for me while shaking his head. "You're impressive. How do you even do this? Amazing."

I am also challenged by complex objects like blankets. Somehow they get twisted, the long side winds up on the short side of the bed, and I can't find the corners. I hop into bed and helplessly whine for Ryan to fix it: "Ry-an! The blanket's messed up!"
We stopped using comforters with duvet covers because the blanket always wound up balled up at the bottom of the cover. "Ry-an! The blanket's really messed up!"
Recently we switched to using separate blankets, because according to Ryan, I'm a "blanket hog" and I "burrito" myself with his fair share. "Ry-an! The blanket's still messed up!"
"You realize it's a rectangle, right Honey?

The biggest victim of my clumsiness is Ryan's sleep when I wake up at 5:30am. The harder I try to stealthily slink out of the bed, and the more I tiptoe around silently to avoid waking him, the more objects I drop in the bathroom. Bottles magically fly out of my hands, bounce off the shelf, knock off five other containers from the counter, bounce off the floor and roll across the room. Ryan's alarm is the sound of me cussing, picking up bottles from the floor and dropping them again.

There is not much I'm good at around the house; laundry and drying dishes are my forte. However I deserve props for excelling at excrement. I am the official litter box scooper and cleaner, and I can even successfully plunge a toilet with minimal gagging. Now that's impressive.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sucky Service Stories

A few days ago I walked up to the ticket counter at Amtrak. The clerk behind the counter mumbled "Just a second" without looking up. Then she took a minute to finish her Angry Birds game. A game. On her phone. I just stared at her, laughing dumbfounded. Wait, is this really happening? Is she really playing a game on her phone while I stand here waiting? Do I say something, like "Are you for real, lady?" Omg she is STILL playing that thing. This is hilarious.
"Yes?" she asked, when she finally looked up, completely deadpan, no hint of an apology or even a smile.
April Ludgate is not so charming in real life.

Amtrak got me thinking about some of the other sucky customer service experiences I've had since I last blogged:

I ordered a soy chai at a cafe/bakery. The barrista repeated the order back to me, and then proceeded to make my drink with regular milk.
"Excuse me, is that regular milk?"
"I ordered with soy. I'm severely lactose intolerant."
"Oh, ok."
I think the reason she forgot was because of the lengthy intermission between the time I ordered and when she actually started making my drink. I couldn't tell what she was doing, but it involved a lot of slowly looking for something, slowly fussing with supplies, and slowly walking around with a towel. So when she started the process of making my drink all over again, I decided to make a couple phone calls and come back. When I returned, she was standing against the back corner of her station, staring off into space, eating a small piece of cake from a sample cup.
"Excuse me!"
She continued staring off into space, slowly popping another cake sample into her mouth. Then more spaced-out staring and another sample cup of cake.
"Excuse me!" (waving this time), "I'm picking up my soy chai."
She shuffled over sluggishly to give me my drink, just 20 minutes after I placed my ordered.

Speaking of sweets, why do my favorite Thai and Vietnamese restaurants often bring the bill before asking if we want dessert? Is that a cultural thing? There is something so final about seeing the check hit the table. I know they'll redo the bill if I ask for a mango & sticky rice or che, but I can't help but feel like they're sending me a message: "Whaa-aat? You want more food? But you so fat. You eat too much already. No more food for Fat Whities."

The ultimate bad dining experience was at Seasons in Davis last month. This restaurant is a Kitchen Nightmares episode waiting to happen. I have never been to a restaurant that is so unaccommodating of special diets. We went through almost every item on the menu. "No sorry, that is made with butter." No sorry, we can't make that without cream." They couldn't even make a simple side of Brussels sprouts without dairy, which we interpreted to mean one of three things:
1. The restaurant uses pre-seasoned frozen foods.
2. The food is all prepped in advance and stored for hours, with nothing fresh on hand.
3. The cooks are so incompetent, they can't deviate from set recipes.
Regardless, none of those translate into a great meal.
The food was bland, sub-par and overpriced. We barely picked at our entrees and declined a to-go box. The waiter didn't even ask how our meal was when he picked up the heaping plates of food to return to the kitchen at the end of our meal. We interpreted this as either:
1. He knows how dreadful the food is and doesn't ask customers anymore out of embarrassment.
2. The kitchen staff doesn't give a sh*t what their diners think about the food.
3. The restaurant gets enough business from the adjacent hotel so management doesn't care if nobody comes back. Suckers like us will show up every weekend to drop $100 on the worst meal of their life.
We learned something valuable though: My dairy-free diet is a good test of a restaurant's caliber. The next time we go into an establishment that can't adapt any of their recipes, we are going to assume a lack of fresh food or skilled chefs, and hightail it out of there.

My weirdest service experience was at a hotel in New York a couple months ago. I hadn't been sleeping well during my work travels, and I had the rare opportunity to take a power nap between our afternoon meetings and dinner. When I walked into my hotel room, the maid was still cleaning and refused to leave.
"Hi..." (expecting she'll offer to come back later at this point)
"Oh hello, I'm almost done."
"Oh you don't need to finish, it's fine."
"I have to finish."
"No really it's OK, I want to take a nap."
"No, I have to finish."
She is bustling around emptying trash cans and restocking towels during this awkward conversation.
"Please go. It's really OK."
"I have to finish or I get in trouble."
"But I'm the guest and I'm asking you to leave."
"Almost done..."
"Please. Please just go."
Thankfully she left before I had to call the front desk for back-up: "Hi, yes there is a housekeeper in my room and she's refusing to leave. Could you please remove her."

What's your suckiest service story?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

What should I do with my dead cat's Twitter page?

My cats used to tweet via their TuckerandOso handle-- mainly foul-mouthed complaints about their food and sassy retorts to being smothered with human affection. But since my dear Tucker has departed, I can't decide what to do with their Twitter page. I've been debating these options:

a.) Leave their account as is, last utilized in 2011, as an eternal memorial to our cherished Tucker. This is basically what I've been doing by default.
b.) Update it to JustOso (or something like that) and encourage Oso to start tweeting solo. I'm not sure if he has the heart to tweet without his brother, but I can talk to him about it.
c.) Ditch the kitty tweeting, which is so two years ago anyways, and start a Twitter page that ties to my Shonelley Belly Laughs blog. Then I can communicate with people directly on Twitter, rather than through the filter of a cat saying "My grumpy mom sure thinks..."
d.) Delete the kitty account and stay off Twitter all together. Do I really have time to keep up with another social media outlet when I've been so neglectful of my blog?

Your vote?

RIP Tucker (a.k.a. Tucker the Cat, SuperCat, Hugs McSnugs)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

So You Don't Think You Can Dance But Want to Dance With the Stars

I had never attended a dance convention, because they typically offer three levels:
1.) Advanced-- for competitive talented children
2.) Super-Advanced-- for competitive pre-professional teens
3.) Crazy-Super-Advanced-- for people who are already professional dancers.
There is no level for out-of-shape 30 year old beginning/intermediate dancers who just want to dance all weekend for "fun" with renowned dancers and choreographers. So when my favorite TV show in the whole world announced a dance convention with an "Enthusiast" track for adults 18+, I did an epic happy dance.*

I have watched every single episode of So You Think You Can Dance for all 9 seasons. I've re-watched countless clips on YouTube, attended several live shows and an audition taping, and seen every movie starring SYTYCD alumni. I look forward to the show all year long and go into withdrawal when the summer is over. If you're not a dance enthusiast, let me break it down-- it's some of the best dancing and choreography you can see anywhere, and it's free in front of your TV.

Despite promoting the Enthusiast track with taglines like "Love to dance but not a dancer?" I knew there would be a bunch of dancers registering. By "dancers" I naturally mean skinny, conceited 18-19 year olds in glittery sports bras and booty shorts. I envisioned dancing in a packed ballroom, squished in among a thousand other dancers, unable to keep up with the choreography or even see the instructors. I would be by far the oldest, fattest person there, and would likely injure myself. Would I regret dragging my husband all the way to Las Vegas for this? To minimize the inevitable humiliation, I set these goals for myself a few months before the convention:

1. Get back my flat abs. I planned to accomplish this through a rigorous routine of avoiding the snack shack at work and occasionally exercising.
2. Be able to do the splits again-- both right and left, but not center, because I know that's just hopeless.
3. Be able to point my toes for more than 5 minutes without my legs cramping.
4. Run a mile without stopping. This would be a lifetime fitness achievement for me. I was convinced if I could jog a mile, I would have the stamina for anything.
5. Buy a leotard and other proper dance-wear. I was starting to feel ridiculous wearing my Nike tank top, biker shorts, and feetless panty hose to ballet class.

Here is my report card:

1. Get back my flat abs: F
I kept the tummy and added some thighs, thanks to a rigorous routine of buying whatever treat looked most delicious every time I stepped into a store, which was every day.

2. Be able to do the splits again: C+
Right side- yes, barely. Left side- not so much.

3. Be able to point my toes: A-
Success! Getting my booty kicked in ballet classes every other weekend did the trick.

4. Run a mile: F
I don't think I so much as jogged around the block after setting this goal.

5. Buy a leotard: D
I deserve a D for effort, because trying on leotards was traumatic. I don't feel that much heavier than when I last rocked a leotard ten years ago. But I quickly discovered that 30-year old me looks nothing like 20-year old me in a leotard. 30-year old me looks like 2 pounds of sausage stuffed into a 1 pound sausage casing, with lumpy ground meat bulges ready to explode.

None of my failed goals mattered. It was one of the best weekends of my life.

Here is a snapshot of my schedule:

9:30-9:45- Welcome & Faculty Intros
10-11- Class with Allison Holker
11-12- Class with Brian Friedman
12-1:15- Lunch break
1:15-2:15- Class with Twitch
2:15-3- Faculty Q&A
3:15-4:15- Class with Tyce Diorio
7:30- Showcase Performance and Meet & Greet

9-9:45- Class with Twitch
9:45-10:30- Avenues of Dance Seminar
10:45-11:45- Class with Alex Wong
11:45-1:30- Lunch Break & Miscellaneous Seminars
1:30-2:30- Class with Allison Holker
2:30-3:30- Class with NappyTabs

Then Ryan and I filled the rest of the 3-day weekend with two Cirque du Soleil shows, a trip to the wax museum, and a lot of walking around hotels with free entertainment.

This is how I've been trying to explain how utterly amazing the convention was to people who don't follow dance:

Imagine you go to a convention for (insert your favorite hobby here), and the workshops are taught by (insert a bunch of famous people who you've been admiring for years). There are only about 100 people in your classes, and the room is set up so even if you hide in the back corner, you're only about 4 people away from the famous teachers. The classes are right at your level, the other attendees are friendly and encouraging, and the teachers actually come down and (insert verb related to your hobby) right alongside you and cheer you on. After the classes you can meet the teachers and take a picture with them. The event includes a showcase of even more famous (insert title for people who do your hobby professionally), and you sit third row center for the phenomenal show. The entire convention only costs $250, plus travel/accommodations and an extra $25 to get your spouse a ticket to the performance. And even though you're gross and sweaty after class and usually hate photos of yourself, you think these magically come out just fine:

With Twitch after Hip Hop Class

With Alex after Jazz Class

I've decided that once a decade I owe it to myself to indulge my dance fantasies. In 2002, I did a month-long summer dance program at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia-- also one of the best experiences of my life. In 2012 I danced with the dance stars at a So You Think You Can Dance dance convention for people who don't think they can dance. Suggestions for 2022 when I'm 40?

*If you haven't seen my signature happy dance, it's part hoes down, part Charleston, part funky chicken, and part Elaine from Seinfeld. It usually elicits such responses as "Are you OK?," "Do you have to pee?" and "Don't ever do that again in my office."

Sunday, April 29, 2012

June 1992

 June 1992
Dear diary,

Sorry I haven't written sooner. My name is Shonelle Redke. I'm 10.* I live in Sunnyvale, CA. On the next pages I'm writing some things about myself so I can remember them when I'm older. 

Favorite Songs:
Save the Best for Last
Everything I Do, I Do it for You

Favorite Things:
I love it when someone compliments me on something, especially some that I try to do real hard. 
I love it when my mom is in a good mood. It always makes me feel so wonderful.

I love my mom so much that there is nothing more to say. 
My dad is a tease, but we love each other.
Beylah is funny, kind and loveable or annoying, mean and snobby.**

Boys I Like:
Casler- He's nice to me, blushes a lot.
Michael- He's someone from Hebrew School. See another page for more about him.***
Maybe: Francisco, Jason, Ido

My Friends:
Daphna Ram- Best friend
Emily- Nicest friend ever
Jaime- Nicest friend ever
Emily, Jaime, Shonelle, Hebrew School friends, "Triplets," nickname, can't seperate!!

My Favorite Books:
Little House Series
Emily of New Moon

Things to do:
I write poetry, and stories, I my have published, I hope!!****
I love reading. I love dancing. I love listening to music.

About me:
I friendly. I always try to be good. With Beylah it's hard. Mom can't understand. I wish she could.

My Personal Feelings:
The man who sung Everything I Do I do it For You is so cute. I saw him on T.V. Oh, and I love his voice. I wish I could see him in person. 

Some time I will add more lists and more things to them, but this is all for now. I need something to remember when I am older. 


* I don't think I grasped the function of a diary, since my last entry was all about my tenth birthday, and this one starts with an introduction of my name and age. I also started most entries with a guilty apology for not writing more frequently, like my diary cared.

** Beylah-- For the record, I only think you're funny, kind and loveable now. Not the other three!

*** There is no other page in my diary about Michael. I wish I had the juicy story for that one.

**** My dream of publishing is now officially fulfilled on the blogosphere.

Friday, April 27, 2012

I wrote this 20 years ago today

April 27, 1992
Dear Diary,

I'm ten!! I'm ten!! I still can't believe it!! This must be the most exciting day of my whole life. This day was so perfect!! It started out in the morning. My mom woke me up at 6:30, right when I had asked her to. She first awoke me. Then she came into the room with a big basket. She had decorated it with a big happy Birthday sign. She had taped balloons on the corners. She even wrote "10" on each of them. It was so great!! Then she took my picture. Then I started opening my gifts. My sister had made about 10 presents and I opened them all first. They were so cute!! I received some really beautiful cards!! She even gave me a few of her toys. These were the gifts:
  • a beautiful flower dress from my Nana + Papa.
  • a shirt and shorts outfit from my Aunts Sheri, Lauren, Uncles David, Howard, and little cousin Michele.
  • from parents- a porcelain doll that I picked out
  • stickers and bookplate stickers from daddy
  • many gifts from Beylah

That was just the start of my terrific day! It even gets better!! I wore the outfit from my aunts and uncles. Everyone thought I looked beautiful. I had washed my hair the night before. I went to school feeling older and special. I could tell that I had a beautiful day ahead. At school I passed out chocolate chip cookies to my class. They all loved them. People called me things like "10 year old." They'd say "Nice going 10 year old." It was so great.

As soon as I came home, the phone rang. I talked to my Nana and Aunt Elaine. It was neat because at that time I found a letter from my Nana. A few hours later my "Grandberry" called me. We had a wonderful chat. I stayed home from Hebrew School so I could get my homework done and have dinner. All my grandparents sang happy Birthday. So did my Papa who had just called. Even the man fixing the water heater that was at our house wished me a very Happy Birthday. He was a very nice man.

As soon as I finished my homework at about 6:30, my dad came home from work. We all went to Chevys, a Mexican restauarant. I decided to go there because the food's very fresh and I just thought it was a fun place to go. I had a wonderful birthday dinner. Then all of a sudden when I was just sitting there, all the waiters and waitresses came to our table, and sang this really sweet and silly Birthday song. Then they put this beautiful Mexican hat on me. It had "Chevy's" written on it. It was very big and real, meaning made out of straw probably. They then set some custard in front of me. Though I was too full to eat hardly any of it, I still thought it was a very nice idea. When we were finished and going to leave, we went to the person in the front of the restaurant. My mom then said, "This stays here, right?"
"If it's her birthday then you can take it with you," said the lady.
"Yeah we can keep it," said my mom who must have been as excited as me.

When we got home my mommy (mummio) took a bunch of pictures of us. We were tired because my dad had been flinging chips at the rest of us. I can't wait to see the pictures!! Then we heard another birthday wish from my Aunt Sheri. It was on the answering machine. By this time we weren't so full, so we had this little box of chocolates that came with the gifts. My sister (Beylah) had one too. They were yummy. Then I decided to write in this diary so that in ten years I can say "I remember those gifts. I also remember how I felt that wonderful day." As long as I live, I may never have another day as special as this one. A tenth birthday is something very special.

I thank my relatives, my dad, and my sister, and my friends for making this day so lovely. I especially thank my mom for going to all those stores trying to find the perfect birthday card for me. I also thank her for doing all those special details that maked my birthday so special. I don't think anyone will understand how much I appreciated this. Everything went perfectly. It turned out like a dream birthday. I love everyone who helped make my birthday so special for me.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Are any of these a good reason to have a baby?

I don’t know what to do next with my career.

I want someone in the house who spills food on themselves more than me (my husband’s suggestion).

I could already pass for 4 months pregnant with my chocolate-induced belly pooch.

For many years now, I've been yearning for my own... children’s book collection.

I need more blogging material.

And no, I’m not preggers. It really is just the chocolate.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I dedicate this blog to Alan & Fabio

My legions of fans (my sister and my friend Alan) have been prodding me to blog again. The last time I posted was just before I got promoted to a job that has sucked my joie de vivre and creativity, sent me to physical therapy for repetitive stress injuries, and destroyed my interest in spending any time on the computer beyond the 12 hours/day that I manage marketing projects for a living. Nevertheless, my company is amazing, so since last May I have also:

Filmed TV interviews for the local news and recorded radio ads. I also played reporter/host alongside this YouTube celebrity rapper for an internal event that we live-casted back to the stores. I’ve started calling myself “the talent” and demanding organic, handmade chocolate truffles in my office (OK, I don’t actually demand them; the samples just regularly show up from our local vendors).

Bought hoola hoops for the marketing department. Did you know I was the hoola hoop champion of the Bar Mitzvah circuit in the 7th grade? I also bought dog treats for my desk to make better friends with the cuddly canines in the office.

Helped plan an office team build on a berry farm, an art auction happy hour for our neighboring businesses, and a mock disaster simulation. Not all at once.

·     a training in Austin
·     a tour of a local idyllic grass-fed cattle ranch, followed by burgers with the meat company’s CEO (those happy cows taste delicious)
·     a chef exhibition event at the Monterey Bay Aquarium
·     a food truck and beer festival
·     a fine foods trade show
·     a social media strategy conference
·     a networking event for “creative types”
·     a conference for women tech entrepreneurs
·     a feng shui workshop (complete with crystals) in our remodeled office space, which now has a living plant wall and free yoga classes
·     free lunches ranging from dim sum to vegan macrobiotic restaurants, to the Cliff Bar cafeteria
·     a motivational speech from an Ironman winner
·     inspiring presentations from multiple global non-profits that we support
·     a company convention with 200 vendors sampling products, impressive guest speakers and a marching band

Shook Fabio’s hand at work. I had never found him attractive in photos and mostly regarded him as a joke from sketch comedies I had seen growing up. But like every single other lady in the office, I swooned. That man has an inexplicable magnetism that makes women go all gooey kneed, doe eyed and blushingly giggly.

So yeah, I drank the company Kool-Aid so to speak. Or maybe I should say I drank the company kombucha. Or ate the office truffles. Either way, I’m back to thinking I work at the best place in the world.

I’m also 10 pounds heavier this year. Damn those office chocolates.

Yo Alan—I’m blogging again, so you owe me Draw Something. Game on!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Weekend I Went to Jail*

Friday Night

“Are you crying?” Ryan asks me over the phone.
“I’m tired sob and drunk sob, because I almost finished a whole glass of cider, and I miss you sniff and I have to pee every ten minutes sob and I don’t sob have my own baaaathroom.”
“You don’t have your own bathroom?”
“The hotel everyone is staying in was booked sniff so they put me up in the sniff sister hotel. I didn’t know that ‘b & b style’ meant there would be one bathroom for the whole floor, and it’s just a toilet in a closet. And there’s only one shower sob and it’s also just a closet. And I am wearing my polka-dot clown pajama bottoms (bawling now) and see-through fuzzy white shirt. And I don’t want to go out and go pee again.”
“Sorry baby but it’s hard to understand you.”
“I’m whispering sniff because the walls are so thin, and I don’t want everyone to hear me crying like a spoiled princess about the hotel. My room is so small I can’t even fart without worrying the room next door will hear. And I feel sick because I had fried food for dinner. Sniff. At least I have a sink in my room, so I can take off my makeup without everyone seeing my hideous skin."
“You have a sink? Why don’t you just pee in the sink?"
“You’re gross! Sniff. And there’s this creepy theatre mask on the wall across from the toilet-closet, so when I come out of the bathroom, it’s staring at me. Sniff. And I have to keep locking the door to my room every time I go to the bathroom, and I’m tired of locking my door. And the light in the bathroom doesn’t work so I have to pee in the DARK because I don’t want to go to another floor.”
“Go pee in the sink.”
“I don’t want to pee in the sink! I just want to be hoo-oooome,” I wail.
“Do you want me to pick you up?”
“No I have to be back so early, I’d get no sleep and have to drive back, and tomorrow will suck even worse. I don’t wanna go pee again.”

Saturday Night

I’ve just finished another workday in San Francisco, setting a new store for Monday’s grand opening. I am sleep deprived and traumatized from commuting 4 hours a day in city traffic all week. I’ve recovered from my hissy-fit the night before, but feel groggy and grubby. I haven’t washed my hair, as I refuse to bathe in communal spaces without flip flops.

Joyfully, Ryan is driving all the way to San Francisco just to pick me up. I splurged and took a train + cab yesterday, so I could enjoy a work dinner without having to worry about my car. Ryan’s decided it’s worth the 100 miles round trip to get a few extra hours with me (it’s Valentine’s Day weekend). Plus, he pities me after my pathetic sniveling last night. He doesn’t even accept my offer to treat him to dinner at a nice restaurant in the city, because he just wants to get the heck out of San Francisco as usual.

Ryan picks me up from the store with a bouquet of red roses. My heroic hubby.

After a burger and some shopping in San Jose, I am dying to shower and get to bed. It’s 10pm and I proclaim giddily that I am going to sleep like a baby and actually get a solid 7 hours for the first time this week. He drives me to the Caltrain station to pick up my car.

My car is gone.

When I parked at Caltrain the day before, I saw a sign at my usual lot announcing closure and towing after 7pm. So I made sure to park at the lot across the street without a single sign. Yet here I am, staring at an empty barricaded lot, which is in the process of getting repaved.

I start crying again.
I’m too tired to deal with this.
But Ryan informs me that he’s too tired to deal with me crying anymore this weekend.

I collect myself and call the transit number on the sign. Ryan drives me to the towing company, where I learn my car was towed by San Mateo County, which means I have to drive to the jail in Redwood City in the morning to get a release.

I lose all composure.
“I have to go to jail? To jail! In REDWOOD CITY?”
I am concurrently laughing and sobbing hysterically like a mad woman.
“To jail? In Redwood City? For parking my car in a Caltrain lot A MILE FROM MY HOUSE in San Jose, when there was no warning it was going to be closed for paving? I have to be at work at EIGHT AM in San Francisco tomorrow!”

Tomorrow is the last day to set the store with marketing materials before Monday’s grand opening, and I’m in charge.

Sunday Morning

I let my boss know that I’m coming in late, and give my team instructions for what to work on until I get there. Poor Ryan wakes up at 7am to drive me 25 miles to Redwood City, so he can drive me all the way back to the towing company in San Jose to pick up my car.
I expect the jail to be teeming with grimy criminals and despondent family members. To my surprise, there are only cheery, respectful, perfectly-normal-seeming people visiting the incarcerated. The government employees on the other hand are shockingly hostile.

The attendant greets a man entering the building with condescension:
“Did you read the sign on the door? No visiting hours today! The elevator is broken,” she barks.
“Oh no, sorry. I must have missed it,” the visitor replies graciously.
Ryan and I missed it too.
There were like 6 signs on door.

I wait in line for a clerk to review my paperwork and ID. Her demeanor says “I should have retired 20-years ago, and you mother-f*cker are the sole thing standing between me and any reprieve from my miserable existence.” She snarls that I need my car registration to get a release.
“It’s in my car at the tow company by my house, 25 miles away! They didn’t say I needed it when I called last night.”
Please don’t make me drive back to San Jose to drive back to Redwood City. Please don’t. I will go ballistic.
She makes a couple calls and I’m cleared.

I wait in line to see the equally cantankerous cashier. The women in the lobby exchange stories about visiting their husbands, and their suspicions that the elevators aren’t actually broken. I still can’t get over how normal they seem. And clean.

Ryan drives me back to the towing company, and the cashier mumbles that I don’t have the right release forms. I start giggling.
“Wouldn’t it be hilarious if we got to Redwood City and they made us drive back to San Jose to get my car registration, and then we got the release from Redwood City and drove back to San Jose and they made us drive back to Redwood City for a different release, and then we drove back to San Jose to get my car, so I could drive past Redwood City to San Francisco to start my work day?”
Ryan does not agree that would be funny.
Maybe because he’s been doing all the driving.

$400 later, and four hours after leaving home for jail, I am driving back to San Francisco for another day of work.

In conclusion:

Dear San Francisco,
I know it’s not your fault that I didn’t have a bathroom in your hotel or that my car got towed, but I’m adding both to my grudge against you.
Still loathing you,

*I went to jail 3 months ago. I’m behind on blogging.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Conversation with my Cat

“Ugh, you guys are so messy. How did you manage to get your wet food all over the floor?” I grumble as I sweep the kitchen.

“Don’t judge me, Mom! You get food all over your face and your hair,” Oso retorts with the help of my husband’s kitty translation skills.

“Oh yeah? Well I’ve seen you roll around in your own litter. Your dirty litter.”

“So what? You don’t wash your sheets!”

“That’s not true. I’ve been washing them much more regularly.”

“I clean my litter box more often than you wash your sheets!”

“No, I clean your litter box.”


“Besides, you can’t compare your litter box to my sheets. I don’t poop in my bed.”

“Coulda fooled me!”

Monday, February 14, 2011

It’s not you, it’s me.

I don’t think we should see each other anymore, San Francisco. We can still be friendly, and I’ll even visit once in a while for special occasions. But for now, at least for a while, I just need… a break. I know it may be cruel to do this on February 14th, but Valentine’s Day is a holiday for sharing your feelings, and I for one feel that we’re not a good match.

Look, it’s not you, it’s me. You’ve given me everything: fine dining, the best arts and entertainment in the Bay Area... And yes, I know you’re very popular and loved. But after spending a long week together, I’m sorry, but I can’t stand being around you anymore.

You’re smothering me, San Francisco. Your tall houses crammed tightly on narrow streets make me claustrophobic. And your friends are, I hate to be rude, but your friends are losers. They yell at themselves on the streets, make aggressive comments when I walk by, and have the audacity to ask me for money. Some punk kids mocked me for putting on my sunglasses upside down. Yeah, I did that, okay? I was exhausted and wasn’t paying attention. I laughed amiably, but I almost went ballistic and screamed “Mind your f-ing business! Why can’t I walk down the street without every single a-hole talking to me!” I kept my composure though. I am very polite. Unlike the rest of your buddies who don’t have the civility to let me merge lanes when I need to turn. Why do people honk at me so much here?

Most of all, San Francisco, I hate driving to see you. Do you realize that over 3 days, I spent a whopping 12 hours in my car commuting from San Jose? I know it’s not your fault that the streets confuse me, or that I'm scared of hills, or that I don’t know how far to pull into the intersection to make a left turn, or that I loathe dodging buses, or that I almost kill a pedestrian every trip. And I don’t even blame you (well not completely) for my inability to find parking. I drove around for 45 minutes the other day! I passed four perfectly good spots that I didn’t see until it was too late, I pulled into one metered spot only to notice the sidewalk labeled “Tow Away,” and I tried twice to no avail to parallel park. Call me pathetic, but I just don’t remember how. And truly San Francisco, you are an enigma. I was never able to read your signs. 2 Hour Parking 10am-6pm, No Parking Thursdays 9-11am, Parking with permit 7pm-7am. How many signs can you fit on one pole? You’ve been sending me mixed signals.

And one more thing—you are not a cheap date. I’m a pretty generous person, but I’m not made of money, you know. I drove two hours to see you the other night and spent $18 on parking. In fact, I spent $114 this week on parking, train tickets and taxi cabs. That’s not even accounting for gas on days that I drove. I can’t afford you.

Despite it all, I would like to take this opportunity to apologize. I said some hateful things when I left, and I was out of control. I’m sorry I screamed “F-you, San Francisco” repeatedly while driving away the other night. I’m sorry I called you a “sh*t hole,” and I’m sorry how many times I said I hated you. It was excessive. If it’s any consolation, the palms of my hands ache from banging them on the steering wheel, and I may have given myself whiplash. You stir up anger management issues I don’t have anywhere else in my life. You raise my blood pressure. Quite simply, you bring out the worst in me.

I stopped by this morning and gathered up all my belongings. I will be back in a couple weeks, but it will be strictly business. Don’t try to convince me to stay with your fun sock boutiques and vintage clothing shops. And don’t try to force me to stay with your traffic at all hours of the day and night. Don’t pretend you’ll miss me, because you have over 800,000 other people who don’t mind living on top of each other. This suburban girl never meant anything to you anyways.

Goodbye, San Francisco. I’m moving on.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


These made me laugh today:

I enjoy the Super Bowl as much as the next guy, as long as he's a guy who doesn't really enjoy the Super Bowl.
- Joel Stein, Time columnist/my idol

Dennis: One word -- coffee. One problem -- Where do you get it? 
Lemon: Anywhere, Dennis. You get it anywhere! 
Dennis: Wrong! You get it in my coffee machine. Thirty-eighth and Sixth, in the basement of K-Mart. You just go downstairs, you get the key from David, and boom! You plug in the machine... 
- 30 Rock

Fucking dance bullshit. It’s a fucking cluster fuck. It’s an epic fucking rolling boulder of festering shit.
- Anonymous

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I resolve to eat more popcorn

I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. Don’t get me wrong— I love making resolutions; I just don’t believe in saving them for January. I make and break mine year-around whenever I’m inspired. If I want to lose 5 pounds in June, I make a resolution to do it, and I do it. This year however, after a season of unprecedented holiday binging, I decided to put pen to paper, and outline all my big goals for the year. Here’s a recap of my progress.

January 1, 2011
I resolve to take better care of myself, with consistency.

1. I will stick to my uber-healthy diet.
FAILED on January 18.
I ate a hot dog and chicken wings over a glass of wine with my coworkers in Napa. Ever the lightweight, I walked around the strip mall for two hours, trying to sober up so I could drive down the street to my hotel. I giggled alone through the aisles at Target and bought pink fairy stickers. I do not recommend trying on swimsuits when you’re drunk and bloated. The diet’s been all downhill since then.

2. I will get eight hours of sleep every night.
FAILED on January 5.
Not easy to do when you’re a night owl who catches the 6:40am train.

3. I will exercise for at least 60 minutes five days a week.
FAILED on January 2.

4. I will tidy up the house weekly and deep clean it every other week.
FAILED all month.
Please come over to hang out! I can’t motivate myself to vacuum without the threat of guests seeing my slovenliness.

5. I will blog at least once a week.
FAILED all month.
On the bright side, 2/4 is a solid F.

Ryan asked me, “Do you think maybe your expectations are too high? With your crazy work schedule and how much you commute, it doesn’t seem like there are enough hours in your day to do everything. You’re going to have to make trade-offs.”

I replied, “But isn’t that the point of New Year’s resolutions: to foster disappointment and self loathing?”

January 19, 2011
Revised Resolution: Lead a healthy life, with balance.

I will follow the rule of 30 minutes. I don’t have to spend two hours getting dressed, driving to the studio and taking a dance class. Instead I can work out at home for 30 minutes. Likewise, I don’t have to clean the whole house on Sunday. I can just do 30 minutes of something around the house every night.

I will stick to my healthy diet during the week, and splurge a little on the weekend.

FAILED both on January 20.

Last night I ate a bag of potato chips for dinner. Never mind that they were low-fat, all-natural, and only 3 servings per bag. The sad fact is that I ate a bag of potato chips. For dinner.

February 2, 2011
Re-Revised Resolution: Stop hating myself for failing all my New Year’s resolutions.

I’m taking a new approach, with a touch of reverse psychology. I’m setting resolutions with the most realistic chances of follow through. If I succeed, congratulations to me for finally sticking with my goals! If I fail, thank goodness I’m a failure!

I resolve to:
Keep the excess 5 pounds.
Spend more quality time with the television.
Disorganize my closet.
Break more electronic gadgets.
Eat more popcorn.

Wish me luck! If this week is any indication, these are going to be my most successful resolutions ever.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Lettuce Ride

Ode to Amtrak!

The eastern sky was a vibrant peachy orange on my commute Friday morning.

Sometimes when we pass over a lake, the glossy water reflects clouds with perfect clarity. I stare joyfully out the window with a giant grin on my face. I am riding a train through the sky.

I once slept soundly from Hayward to Santa Clara. I had forgotten to take off my corporate name badge. I woke up feeling like a branded piece of company property. If found, please return to…

When I snooze on the train, am I drooling? Snoring? Murmuring about butterflies, like I do at home? Why are people smiling at me when I wake up?

Once, the train accidentally left five minutes early. Amtrak paid for a cab to drive nine of us 50 miles to our destination. I bonded with some intriguing fellow passengers, who I’d shared a train with for months but never actually met. Our taxi pulled up to the station about thirty seconds before the train. How’s that for service?

The other day I heard someone behind me sighing heavily. It sounded like a congested 60 year old man with heart problems, masturbating.

But this is my favorite story:

Lettuce makes a lousy train companion

I am carrying a giant potted bowl of lettuce, an impulse buy from the garden center at the grocery store. I also have three bags overflowing with produce, a backpack with (two!) laptops, a lunch bag, and my oversized purse.

It is a long half-mile walk from the store to the train station. I forgot to consider my transportation plans before engaging in an after-work shopping spree.

My backpack drags down my jeans with every step, until I’m mere inches from mooning the neighborhood. The grocery bags repeatedly slide down my arms and pinch my wrists, so I keep shrugging them back on my shoulders. I am helpless to pull up my pants with my arms wrapped around the potted lettuce.

Relieved to board the train, I face a new challenge: my girth. I knew there would be plenty of space to sit with my purchases, because I always get two seats to myself on Amtrak. However, I didn’t anticipate being too wide to fit through the doorway. I shimmy sideways, wiggling down the aisle, hugging the lettuce bowl, bags falling off my shoulders. “Ooh, excuse me. Oh I’m so sorry. Ooh sorry,” I apologize as I whack passengers in the head with my bags.

I finally plop down in a seat and stash my bags under the table and lettuce bowl in front of me. The conductor comes by and punches my ticket.
“That smells good,” he points at the lettuce.
“It seemed like a good idea at the time,” I groan.
“No worries. I’ve seen people bring a lot weirder things on the train.”
I don’t want to know.
Actually I do, but am too tired to ask.

I realize immediately that I’ve picked the wrong place to sit. Normally the train is full of college students lounging with books and iPods, and working professionals clicking on their laptops. Tonight however I’m in ghetto row. A woman jabbers with her friend and yells at her toddler for the entire hour and eighteen minutes trip.

“Yeah, you playin player.”

“Sit down boy. Sit yo ass down. You know I’ll be hurtin you. Get yo little butt over here. Don’t roll yo eyes at me. You stop. What did you just say? No whattidya say after that? He lost dem bracelets. He’s through.”

“Who the fuck is so and so, I’m not fitting in no skinny 7 jeans.”

“And this man goes and says don’t whup him, and I must’ve turned around and cussed that man up. Don’t tell me about thugs. Fo real. Ya hear that.”

“When I bit him in the ass and he’s like won’t ride in the same train.”

You know I couldn’t make up that dialogue. I grew up in the ‘burbs where I wasn’t allowed to watch anything but Sesame Street until I was 10, and the “s” word was stupid and the “c” word was crap. I studied literature in college.

I desperately want to move to another car, but there is no way I’m going to make a scene by standing up with all my stuff. Those women would call me a racist and bash my head in with the lettuce bowl, I just know it. In fact, I’m getting paranoid they’re going to discover I’m writing about them and smash my computer over my head too. I need to go pee, but if I leave my stuff they’ll steal it, and if I take it with me, they’ll accuse me of being racist for thinking they’ll steal it.
I’m stuck.
And I don’t even have any music to drown out the incessant slang-babble.

As if I weren’t having enough fun already, I’m suffering from an allergy attack. My eyes are watering and my throat is itchy. Plus, my stomach is in a tight knot. Apparently raw tuna cucumber salad, vegan pudding, and dried oranges and mulberries do not constitute a digestible dinner. I’m starving, and I have tons of fresh fruits and veggies in my bags, but you already know why I won’t go to the restroom downstairs to wash them. And sadly, I’ve learned from experience that cleaning an apple by wiping it on the inside of your shirt will only make you sick.

This stupid lettuce better be worth the trouble.

When I arrive home, I proudly show off my purchase to Ryan. The lettuce looks sadly withered and crushed from my awkward travels, and the cats shove their little faces in the bowl before we can pluck our first bunch.

The lettuce tastes deliciously fresh.
But definitely not worth it.