Monday, March 30, 2009

So That Was Fun

All of the boxes are now unpacked.

No, okay, I lie. There is a box in the garage marked "Laundry." I am not sure what all is in it except some cleaning stuff and a throw blanket that lived atop the washer in our apartment. (Why did it live there? I don't know.) There is a box in a guest bedroom marked "board games." There are dedicated shelves for these games upstairs, but no one has been willing to make the trek up the stairs with the box, so it remains. There are also several pieces of art that have not been unwrapped yet. Eventually we will uncover them and decide where to hang them.

But that's it. Everything else has been unearthed and organized and placed. I feel triumphant.

I have also gotten over my cold. It was not allergies, thankfully (although the cold certainly could have been exacerbated by them). (And it had nothing to do with buying a new house; the home was built over six years ago, and the carpet was installed new for showing/selling the house. Many homeowners do this regardless of the house's age.) I am relieved not to be allergic to my own house.

Ish's parents came to visit on Saturday and it was nice to have that as an unpacking deadline. For two weeks I did nothing but unpack boxes, organize all sorts of things, run to the store, nap, sneeze/hack/cough, and chase after cats. Mostly unpack. It's been a blur. I'm glad it's done.

But now?

I'm sitting in my home, having absolutely no idea what comes next.

I mean, aside from the baby.

I/we had our new-to-us doctor's appointment today. She's a little big for her age (she's ~30 centimeters at ~27 wks), so we'll schedule an official sonogram to check on that, but mostly things seem fine. She's finally started to move and kick a lot more in the last couple days.

No, we do not have a name yet. Not even close.

I know I am supposed to enjoy the peace and quiet now, since there won't be much more of that post-kid. But it's all totally weird and surreal and strange.

For example, I've never in my life had more time to blog, and I've never been more stuck for what to say.

It's not like I don't have stories. Oh, I have stories. Stories from San Francisco, stories from growing up. I have found tons of photos and cringe-worthy notes from high school that are, for many reasons, still excruciatingly embarrassing...possibly too embarrassing to share. I feel like I just need a jumping-off point.

Suggestions?

Monday, March 23, 2009

The New House: Week One

I'm not actually sure, but Ish and I have either been suffering from the same awful allergy attack or the same awful cold, or the same awful allergy-attack-turned-cold. It's not pleasant. He's missed a day of work and I've been knocked on my ass AGAIN, in the middle of trying to unpack and settle us in. I didn't think I could feel any more tired or stressed or achey (prior to having a baby) than I did already, and yet.

We've discovered through a process of elimination that we might both be allergic to the new carpet. Awesome!

Also, we're having a very serious issue with laundry that I don't have the energy to write about yet. Wait till you see photos. By now, our neighbors must think we're crazy. Or on meth.

Two different cats jumped the fence, and one of them peed in the downstairs shower.

At the rate we're going, I figure I will feel "moved in" by Thanksgiving.

Fun fact: Ish's parents come for a visit this Saturday!

I note for the record that this Saturday is not Thanksgiving.

And now I drag my wheezing ass back to bed.

ACHOOO!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Young And The Nestless

When my ex-husband and I moved into our new home (you know, a million years ago in my former life), I had the house ready for a party and overnight guests in three days.

Three.

That included buying and setting up new furniture and beds and bedding. I worked non-stop except for the occasional few hours of sleep and eventual shower. I unpacked boxes like a madwoman. I ran to the store for odds and ends half a dozen times each day. I enjoyed -- as I always have -- making the new place feel like "home" and doing so as efficiently as possible.

For whatever hilarious and deluded reasons, I expected to do the same when we got here.

I mean, really. I have natural "homemaking" instincts as it is (plus -- and this will mean something to some of you and seem like nonsense to others -- I am a Cancer), AND I swear I am feeling verrrrrry nest-y. I do not WANT to live out of boxes or bags or half-finished rooms until we "get a feel for them." I want the house done and ready NOW.

Except, OHTHATSRIGHT, all of my energy is going towards making my uterus a warm and cozy home. My body has completely different ideas about how I should be spending my days, and most of them have to do with napping, propping my lower back up with a pillow, eating, and resting some more. Plus peeing all the damn time. Bending over is uncomfortable; bending over 90 million times to unpack boxes is downright painful. I'm not alllowed to move heavy boxes or furniture. I'm also a little emotional, and can't make decisions to save my life.

Thus, I am caught in a perfect storm of not being able to move half our stuff, and not knowing where to put the other half.

Things are going s.l.o.w.l.y.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The day before we moved, I had to go to the doctor's office to get another blood glucose test done. (The entire experience was a comedy of errors, and I left feeling rather grateful that these would not be the people delivering my baby.) While in the lab waiting area for the THIRD time in 24 hours, I couldn't help but notice the peculiar woman sitting across from me.

The woman was suntanned and caucasion, sporting dirty-blond hair in a messy ponytail. She wore a fisherman's sweater and leggings. She was hacking and snorting and had bloodshot eyes and was quite clearly suffering from a bad cold. I'd put her in her late 30s.

She sat with a metal bowl-cup full of...mud? I don't know how else to describe it. It had the consistency of incredibly thick, grainy mustard, except it was dark green and brown. She would add hot water from her thermos to it, then slurp (making disgusting slurping noises) the watery part up with a metal straw and repeat the process. The mud around the edges of the bowl-cup never seemed to get any less thick. I supposed the drink was an herbal concoction, but of what I will never know.



Then I noticed that she had very long -- approximately 2-inch-thick -- fingernails painted matte lavender.



Then the woman, clearly annoyed with the waiting process, leaned over to the older Asian lady sitting next to her, and started complain-muttering in Chinese. And then she got a call on her cell and spoke to whoever was on the other line in Spanish...although you know? It could have been Portuguese now that I think of it.

(See BeachBum's comment - those crazy Brazilians with their waxing and herbs!)

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Moving day was mostly uneventful.

At our apartment in SOMA, I took down the bamboo wall cat barrier we eventually put up to stop the cats from jumping into our neighbor's far more lavish patio. About 30 seconds later, Eddie and Monster had jumped the wall and were comfortably perched on our neighbor's outdoor furnishings.



We left the apartment about the same time as the movers, which I thought would be fine because they were in two huge trucks and we were in faster cars. Except I forgot the pregnancy-pee-rule thing, and had to pull over TWICE in an HOUR-LONG car ride to go. And because I didn't know where I was going exactly and had cats in the car with me, each time I pulled over, Ish had to come with me. So we got to the house about 20 minutes after the movers, who charge by the hour in 15-minute increments. Oops.

The movers were fast and concientious and wonderful. Although I did notice this in the kitchen:



And other than a slight issue with a guest bath, we haven't really had any problems. I am just looking forward to feeling un-buried.


Ish scientifically "measures" how big the space is.
There is no tape measure, mind you.




Sherlock explores the mantel. I believe he finds it acceptable.



Eddie and Leon snuggle in a cat bed that isn't big enough for both of them.
(They don't seem to mind.)


After many hours of unpacking, Ish took me to this cool little shopping plaza. It's fashioned after the Ferry Building in SF, and has lots of little specialty food shops -- produce, chocolate, meats, oysters, even an entire shop of spices. They have a Ritual Coffee (this is an amazing, amazing thing) and a wine and cheese shop. It's really quite lovely, and makes me not-at-all miss SF's foodie-ness.


Cheese. With magical, glorious sunbeams shining down.


Just after sunrise on our first morning here.



This morning, a hot-air balloon landed in the yard across the way.
(The brown thing in the middle of the photo.)


Please note: all these pictures were taken with my iPhone because I haven't unearthed the charger to my real camera yet. But you get the idea.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Other Points Of Interest

This morning Ish woke up, showered, and shaved. He opened three boxes before finding his clean "work" jeans, and transported much of the clothing he found in the first two boxes to his side of the closet. After he got dressed, fed the cats, and cleaned the litter box, he drove to Starbucks. He returned to the house shortly thereafter with a half-caf soy latte (and a kiss on the nose) for me, and left again for work. He will probably be in his office before I finish this paragraph.

Do you have any idea how mind-blowing this is? After nearly three years of his commuting 60-70 miles each way?

(Btw? Ish just popped up on IM.)

* * * * * * * * * *

Thank you for your kind words of support from the post below. I definitely got into a snit over the anonymous comment, but I snapped out of it, too. Your thoughts helped a lot.

Now that I've had some time to put things in perspective, I want to make a few points for the record. A few small ones and a really big one.

First, I do not expect people to agree with me all the time, and I don't have an issue with people who take the time to comment and to respectfully dissent. As Em pointed out, saying that the house we picked seems "out of sync" with me is a fair -- and, as it happens, accurate -- statement. One I've had to think about for a while to be able to answer. However, couching that statement in insults clouded the point and, well, insulted me.

Second, for what it's worth, I won't ever turn off commenting.

The thing is, there's a difference between someone who says something totally off-the-wall stupid (like that guy who told me he can't enjoy reading my blog because he knows he wouldn't want to have sex with me because of my "fatness") (true story), and someone who says something mean that resonates with me because it hits a sore spot.

The anonymous commenter did the latter. I'm not especially concerned about being "uncool" (good lord, I'd never leave the house), and I think "mid-brow" is completely debatable, given this house's relative expense and specific location. BUT I did have a lot of hesitations about moving to a tract home. To be perfectly honest, I didn't even really know what a tract home was a few months ago -- I'd heard of them but coudn't have defined them accurately and had to ask Ish if this was one.

We turned down many houses for that reason. In fact, one of the most gorgeous homes we looked at was so close to the other houses in its development, and the development was so in the middle of nowhere that I actually started crying on the way home from going to look at it.

But this house seemed totally different. It's not, I guess, but it felt that way to us -- which is why we selected it.

And so yeah. I'm sensitive to it. The anonymous commenter knows exactly what s/he is talking about, right down to the effing hollow-core doors, which was the very first thing Ish said he'd be replacing. (Those and the silver-and-gold-tone faucets in the bathrooms.)

I'm sensitive to it because this isn't how I grew up. This isn't the kind of suburb I know. This isn't anything I'm familiar with at all.

How 'bout that, huh? And so we come to the big point.

Do you have any idea how "interesting" the house I grew up in was? No, of course you don't. And that's totally my fault, because I haven't the skills to write it yet. It is my greatest challenge as an aspiring writer to ever, ever put into words that house and all that happened there. Part Anne of Green Gables, part Running With Scissors, with maybe some Pippi Longstocking and Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant thrown in. But funny, and not in a dark way. Not Sedaris. More like Gene Shepard (the guy who wrote the series of stories that the movie, A Christmas Story came from). Yeah, much more like that.

And this? This newly constructed home? Oh, I get it. I get anyone who aspires to have something more unique, more inspired, less like the others and more full of "character." Of course I do. I get the difference. I know exactly what our anonymous commenter means.

I lived and breathed "interesting" for over twenty formative years.

Our over-a-century-old farmhouse had the most charming brick floor throughout the entrance and giant kitchen. Our kitchen, where we spent most of our time, featured a huge brick fireplace in the corner. Charming, yes. But have you ever tried to clean a floor made of bricks?

The farmhouse had five-and-a-half bathrooms, but never once did all 5.5 work correctly at the same time.

Leaky faucets. Drafty windows. A crack here, a hole there. Rip in the screen door. A sliding door stuck shut. A bathroom carpet perpetually damp. Lights that went out and never went back on again.

For whatever conflation of reasons, my parents simply did not keep up with the constant repair needs of the house; mostly when things would break, they'd just stay broken.

So you know what is completely novel to me? Having a house where all the bathrooms work at the same time. Living in a home where I don't have to worry that a leaky faucet may mean a plumbing "problem" that would cost half the home's value to repair.

Here, everything works. Everything is clean, or at least possible to clean in a way that homes built before 1940 are not. I don't have to worry about faulty wiring or lead poisoning or how I'm going to plug a television AND a dvd player in the livingroom. I don't have to pull up decades-old carpet or paneling or linoleum. If a door or faucet or window or light fixture breaks, we have a warranty.

From the outside, I know. I am in a home in a somewhat cookie-cutter neighborhood, and no one out there could possibly see or guess what informed my decision to move here.

But you can.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Well, See. And Now I'm Mad.

I haven't received a purposefully inflammatory comment in a really long time, so I'm a little out of practice. Not that I ever did the "don't take it personally" very well (or, you know, at all), but come on. Seriously?

Anonymous said...

I really am glad for you in that you are in a happy family situation, but have to say that the last photo (your new house) made me really sad.

It is just so.., well sorta really uncool. It's a natural progression (for some) to leave the city and move to a suburb, but did you have to go with the most boring mid-brow iteration on this theme?


Sigh.

The whole subject of our house-hunting thing has made me slightly uncomfortable for a few reasons. First of all, that Ish and I are managing to buy a place at all in this economy makes us extremely fortunate. Given the economy and how many families are losing their homes, writing about buying a new one seems insensitive.

On the other hand, not writing about it at all seems dishonest.

Secondly, there's the straight-up issue of money. I'd prefer not to touch that subject on my blog with a bazillion-foot pole. I'm far more comfortable discussing religion, politics, race -- anything. And not because I don't think I have the experience or perspective to write about wealth (or lack thereof) competently. Good lord. I have had my share of good times; I have also had my share of living paycheck-to-paycheck, having to figure out what portion of what bills to pay each month, wondering how or if or when I would ever climb out of debt.

But it's hard to discuss moving to a new house without so much as hinting at its relative costs. So I kinda wanted to skirt the whole thing altogether.

But then, maybe that's dumb? I don't know. Whatever. Here is what I have to say in "defense" of our home selection to an anonymous commenter who is purposefully raining on my goddamned parade the day before I move. (And I know, I know. If I didn't want to hear all matters of opinions, I shouldn't broadcast my life on a blog...)

Living in the SF Bay Area, even way up in the North Bay, is fuck-all expensive.

In Napa (much like everywhere in California) you have a few choices of house.

You can buy a home with "interest" (i.e., built before, say, 1997, i.e., not "boring."). In such cases, the home will either be tiny, a complete fixer-upper, weird and cold (think 70s with Swedish updating), or well over a million dollars. Sometimes if you're really lucky? ALL FOUR. (Note: I am not afraid of renovating a home, but I don't think that moving into a home that needs thousands of dollars of repair when I'm almost 6 months pregnant is a very wise decision.)

So what's left? Newer construction. A ton of subdivisions. Homes in the style of Everywhere, USA. Some neighborhoods are as generic as they come, some less so. Some had boring insides, some felt totally soulless.

We spent months tracking every house listed in Napa for under a million dollars. We toured almost 30 of them.

In the end, the one we picked feels happy. It is bright and airy. It has a semi-open floorplan we really liked and wanted -- one with a fantastic great room and that doesn't waste space with a big formal living room we'll never use. I guess it's on a fairly disinteresting street with a very non-particular facade. However, it's in a fantastic location and has an amazing backyard and view.

For what we could afford, this house was by far the best and I absolutely love it, uncool and all.

Oh, and look at that! Now I'm not angry anymore. Yay!

Also, I have an excuse to post some more photos:


The kitchen/great room


Our backyard (which ends at the fence) and view.
That yellow stuff is a vineyard.



Boring? Mid-brow? Perhaps. But I'm signing up for it anyway.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I'm Leaving San Francisco, But I'm Pretty Sure My Heart Is Coming With Me (Part III)

Updated with some photos!

I don't think it's unique to San Francisco, because I think this is (or could be) true for anyone who's found a place that makes them feel like they can and should and have to be themselves. I don't doubt that for some people, that place is where they grew up. Maybe for some people it's college. Or maybe some find it in a foreign country.

I put myself back together in San Francisco.

If you'll indulge my blogging-as-therapy for a few paragraphs...

I was a happy and confident kid. And then life got bumpy in middle school, bumpier in high school, and was a mess by college (for both me and for my family). Maybe, probably, that's how it goes for everyone.

Or maybe not.

But I suspect we all reach a point where we think WAIT A SECOND. THIS IS NOT RIGHT. HOW DID I GET...HERE?

And that's when you begin the process of putting your first 20, 25, maybe 30 years in context. THIS was good. THIS was bad. THIS was me. THIS was not. Stripping out the falsehoods we learned or tried on or insisted we were. BONK! Wrong.

I got to SF with all these pieces of me, many broken, in an undefined mass. I have been rebuilding since. And what I love so much about San Francisco is that I never felt I was supposed to come out any sort of way. I've never felt pressure to have an office job or to get married and have kids. I've never felt pressure not to.

Perhaps it's not unique to San Francisco, and maybe I would have discovered the same things in Detroit or Aruba or San Antonio. I just think SF was the place I most wanted to be...and so it was the place I needed to be.

About the second week I lived here, I saw a woman on her way to work. She was wearing a black suit with a messenger bag/briefcase slung over her shoulder and had striking silver hair. She was on a scooter, gliding down a hill with her suit whipping in the breeze.

You just do your thing. SF is cool with it.

And so yes. I've done my thing. I've done my Broadway Best, singing my heart out at Martuni's piano bar, when I was the only woman and so had to do all the female parts in our Les Miz medley while standing on a stool before closing the place down (afterward, drunk patrons asked if I'd actually been on Broadway, and while I had to tell them, uh, no?, I've honestly never felt so talented in my life). I've seen the fireworks from the top of the Art Institute. I've only been to Coit Tower once, but that was for my a cappella group's photo shoot for Real Simple Magazine. I've been under the Golden Gate bridge in a wooden fishing boat. I've spent an afternoon in the Beat writers' bar, Vesuvio, next to City Lights Bookstore while scribbling in a notebook and drinking whiskey.

I've worn a LOT of costumes.


I am Cindy Lou Who and Tony is a Christmas Elf. Obviously.

I've been to Halloween in the Castro and the Folsom Street Fair and the Gay Pride parade.

I protested the war.


Sometime, probably October of 2003. I protested often.

I attended a semester of classes at SF State. I've had dinner at the city's top-rated restaurant twice (so far), and eaten the Tamale Lady's tamales at Zeitgeist .


One time at Zeitgeist, a group of naked cyclists showed up. Just because it's San Francisco and after a hard morning of cycling and protesting, even naked bike-riders need beer. The crappy quality of the photo is A) because I took it with my old camera phone and B) I wanted to be surreptitious about it. Didn't want to be RUDE or anything.

I've performed stand-up comedy.

I helped invent the "boobie shot."

I learned to knit.

I've had my butt mentioned in a local newspaper.

I've been a regular with my crazy group of trivia fans at the Edinburgh Castle's trivia night.


An overexposed photo from The First Trivia Night

I've made great friends; some who've moved despite themselves, some who've stayed despite themselves (many, not surprisingly, from the East Coast).


Missy & Dan -- May they one day return to the Bay Area.


Lisa (w/Ish) -- So glad she didn't give up on SF.

I've kissed girls (don't knock it till you've tried it).


El_G with S.O., just after the "new" bar Vertigo had opened. Also overexposed, because apparently that's how I roll.

I've had a bunch of crazy, weird, great jobs.


The 'hos. This was at my going-away happy hour. Perhaps it should be noted that I was working at this company when I started blogging. Since this photo, I still chat regularly with Liz (far left), Francis has had two babies, I'm no longer blond, and (Pink)Jaime remains one of my best friends. Mostly I love that this photo does nothing for anyone but me. Muahahahaha.

I've had my heart broken.

And I've found the love of my life.


Taken by Ish with his camera phone. I love it for its impromtu-ness.

Oh, and me. I found me, too.

The list goes on and on, and I'm grateful it does. It is long and it is more varied than I ever, ever dreamed it would be, back when I wasn't sure I'd even last a year in California.


Me and a martini the size of my head. Not entirely sure where. Really, this could be many, many, many, many places.

And so here it is:

I love living in the city and I have loved living in this city, and I feel full now. Whole. I got my shit together (at least, as much as I could; I am well aware that this is an ongoing process) and that's what I wanted to do here.

The Tamale Lady was just a bonus.

I'm ready for the next adventure. The one with a husband I couldn't be crazier about and a child I can't wait to meet.

I still don't know a damn thing about the furnace and maybe I'll learn and maybe I won't. I won't resent or fear its very existence, however. I won't dread the trips to Home Depot or hate non-city living simply because it is. I may even come to appreciate things like having a driveway, or a front door that doesn't require me to step around a homeless person to get to, or wondering if my upstairs neighbor's rave will end before my alarm clock goes off.

I'm not moving to a house in the suburbs instead of having a life in the city; I'm moving to the suburbs with all the experiences of having had a life in the city. Hoo boy. And that has made all the difference. (Maybe I'll be worthy of head-shaking from the domesticated neighbors who feel bad for my house-owning cluelessness, but I don't care in the least. I bet they never sang at the top of their lungs on a barstool at Martuni's.)

It almost doesn't matter where I go next. I feel confident that wherever it is, it'll feel like home. Because, yes, my husband and child will be there. But so will I be, the whole whole of me.

And for now, Napa seems absolutely lovely.


Our new home.


We move Friday. Not sure there will be much blogging in the meantime, but I added some photos to this post for fun. (Can you tell I've been cleaning up old files?) Please note: If you are not featured in these photos, it is not because I don't love you. It is more likely because I haven't unearthed that particular folder yet.

Contest Winner!

Congratulations to...


Hurrah! Not that it's not fun to share random sex-related products with strangers of all kinds, but Ms. Lizzy has been a long-time IIF and so it feels ever-so-slightly less weird. Er, sorta.

Rest assured that there will be more giveaways like this (perhaps of the pink sparkly kind?).

So congrats again to Dizzy Ms. Lizzy and thank you all SO much for entering.

(Also, do other blogging moms-to-be give away booze and sex stuff? I'm thinking no...)

* * * * * * * * * *

In case you're wondering how I picked the winner, I cut and pasted ALL of the comments into RANDOM.org and decided to go with the first line that had a blogger's actual name on it, versus just a line from their comment (so as not to give unfair advantage to people who left long comments). Luckily, Dizzy Ms. Lizzy came up immediately.


(Screen shot. Duh.)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I'm Leaving San Francisco, But I'm Pretty Sure My Heart Is Coming With Me (Part II)

I have lived in San Francisco for over seven years. It occurred to me the other day that that's about how long the wizarding students are at Hogwarts. In many ways, it does feel like I arrived in SF and was handed my wand and robes. Indeed, there is much magical crazy here.

Of course, among the most obvious ways to extend the metaphor, well...there's no question that SF is still the liberal bastion it became in the 60s and 70s, and that George W. Bush -- who'd been in office less than a year when I arrived -- was and has been treated as He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. This is truly the land of the liberal, where San Francisco Republicans are at best treated as Slytherins, at worst like Death Eaters, and I am glad I stayed here long enough to see the Dark Lord defeated.

But its liberalness is only one facet, albeit a considerable one, of why I felt I belonged here.

The night I arrived in San Francisco, I was with El_Gallo. We had just driven in from a cross-country trip, and I was equal parts fatigued and thrilled. After searching for parking -- a SF ritual for sure -- we got to El_G's building where his across-the-hall neighbor and former college buddy, Matt, was waiting for us. Matt was positioned at the lobby's balcony, arms spread wide, and when we opened the door he launched into a made-up song and dance called something like "Welcome To San Francisco." We threw our stuff down in El_G's apartment and spent the rest of the evening with Matt and his friend, who were listening to 80s Bon Jovi while trying on various wigs and outfits in preparation for Matt's first drag show where he'd be debuting "Suzie Fabulous." Matt and his friend smoked some pot, El_G and I drank some delicious Muscato, and I couldn't have been happier.

It was a perfect beginning.

It took my three days to find an apartment.

The rest of the timeline...well, it wasn't as swift. But to be fair, I wasn't just learning "San Francisco" when I got here. I was trying to figure out what I'd be doing with the rest of my life, seeing as Plan A had failed so spectacularly.

I started out with an "I'll just figure it out as I go along" attitude, because I had no other choice. I maintained that attitude for years because I wanted to, and SF let me.

It took about three weeks for me to acquire enough furniture (and Internet) to actually start living in my own place. I had taken my at-home job with me, so my days were spent primarily in my apartment, which I adored. I had my own cute space with my own cute stuff and my own city view, and I loved and relished every second of it.

But working inside one's apartment doesn't lend itself to meeting new people easily. Nor does being emotionally distraught. For all its absolute gloriousness and therapeutic wonders, I lost my mom in June of 2002, and San Francisco could only do so much; grieving is grieving.

Although it turns out that piano bars help a whole lot.

Things fell into place, but they took time. I was in SF for a full two years (and living with El_G for one of them) before I'd started to cultivate non-borrowed friends, around the summer of 2003.

It took another full year before I'd actually start working full-time in an actual, normal job at an actual (though not quite "normal") office. Which is the same time -- January of 2004 -- I started the a cappella group.

Half a year later, El_G and I broke up, and I moved again to my own place -- my fourth apartment in as many years.

A few months after that, in January of 2005, I started this blog.

In August, I met Ish.

It's been a crazy, rollicking, fun-filled and -- yes, forgive me -- magical time here, full of twists and turns I never foresaw. The most amazing aspect of the last seven-plus years has been that, at NO point, could I have told you where I'd be six months from where I was.

It never felt like anyone in San Francisco ever expected me to.

Monday, March 09, 2009

I'm Leaving San Francisco, But I'm Pretty Sure My Heart Is Coming With Me (Part I)

(Note: Giveaway still going on; see post below this one!)

My ex-husband's parents lived in Greenwich, Connecticut. About ten years ago, I remember a young couple buying a newly constructed house next door to them (and paying well over a million dollars for it, which isn't the point but is maybe worth noting). They were expecting a baby, and had decided to move out of New York City and into the suburbs, because it seemed like the right thing to do.

In particular, I remember how kind-but-somewhat-condescendingly-bemused Dave's parents were about this clueless couple. The wealthy city folk didn't know the first thing about suburbia or home-ownership. Dave's parents took a head-shaking attitude about that. How can anyone afford a house like that and yet know so little about how it works? they seemed to wonder as they returned from a trip to the new couple's house to explain what a furnace was.

Even then I knew. I'd spent my entire life in the 'burbs, and yet I empathized with this couple. Or at least, I wanted to. I had neither city-living experience nor "house smarts"...but given the opportunity to gain one or the other, I'd have chosen the former. (Eventually I did.)

I grew up in a house where if a lightbulb went out, you fixed it; otherwise, you ignored whatever household item didn't work, or you called someone to fix for you. I didn't then -- and don't now -- have the slightest idea of how one learns about furnaces. Maybe in some families, this is the sort of thing parents pass down to their children. To the best of my knowledge, however, furnaces are located in basements, basements are where witches live, and so you don't ever go into them. End of story.

Just because I don't really believe in witches anymore doesn't mean I ever made the full transition to understanding how a furnace works. (Although I dare any one of you to go down to the basement of my family's old house in Darien, CT and prove to me that Mombie, the witch from the bizarre cartoon version of some alternate Wizard of Oz, does not in fact live in the furnace room of the basement. Because she does and she will get you.)

My point is, I spent much of my growing up feeling displaced. While they loved our home, my parents definitely had some city-dwelling tendencies. It took me a long time to realize that I did, too. It wasn't just that basements scared me and home-ownership seemed unnatural, but that's how it manifested itself. Suburbia was the only thing I knew, so it took me a looooong time to realize that it didn't suit me.

When you're a Stranger in a Strange Land, except it's the only land you know and it's actually not strange but entirely familiar, well. That just makes you a Stranger. In Perfectly Normal Land. You're the weirdo.

At least, I was the weirdo.

It was hard to know that I didn't have to feel that way. I didn't feel confident enough to go try something else. Because what if -- as I'd assumed all along -- it was just me? What if I felt even more isolated and displaced and Strange in a new place with zero familiarity?

Like my first semester of college. (Baaaaad times, ya'll. Baaaaad.)

But then one day, there was no reason to stay in Connecticut. No one in my family lived there anymore. My parents had moved, my sisters had moved, my friends had moved. My husband had left. I was as alone and displaced as it's possible to feel while living in the same place I'd always lived. I was clinging to shreds of familiarity despite that they provided no comfort.

So I finally let go. I finally listened to a long-ignored inner-voice telling me I wanted to be in a crazy city where it might be possible to feel unfamiliar, but impossible to feel Strange.

And that is how I landed in San Francisco.

I hoped when I left that I would be courageous enough to stay. I hoped I'd believe in myself enough to give SF a real go. I was optimistic but wary and hoped at minimum I'd stay for a year, maximum two-to-three. Just to get my bearings and figure my shit out.

The last thing in the world I expected was to arrive in San Francisco and immediately feel like I was home.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Fun Friday Giveaway!

How do I start this one?



Back before Ish, when I was with TheBoy (who morphed into "T", who we should probably just call "Tony" at this point), my collection of Adult Products grew to notable proportions. This is because Tony worked for an online adult toy company and there were many unused, unopened products to be had and sampled ("Wow, that's COOL") and kept ("This goes in the drawer") and sadly, sometimes, thrown out ("What the hell is THAT supposed to be? Is that a -- nuh-uh, no way. Don't even THINK about it.")

Now, for the record, the website that Tony worked for was intended to be educational and sex-positive and, much like Eden Fantasys, was rather tastefully done. (But then again, "tasteful" only goes so far when you (by which I mean "I") start selecting products based on flavor or their relative amount of "sparklies".)

(Because sparklies!)

So on the one hand, we have that I actually know my stuff when it comes to Toys of the Adult Kind. I know what flavors are good and what shapes work better than others and I know that sometimes? Products can be way more approachable when they're pink and glittery.

Still, we have the other hand. The one where I never write about sex and sex-related stuff because HELLO, MY ENTIRE FAMILY! HOW ARE YOU? GOT PLANS FOR THE WEEKEND? OH, THAT'S NICE.

But whatever. Blogging, giveaways, la la laaaaaa.

I was very up-front with the Eden Fantasys person who contacted me about this giveaway. I communicated that I'd be more than happy to give a product away -- because who doesn't like free stuff? -- but that I wasn't sure whether you'd be all over it or kind of weirded out by it.

We decided to start with extra simple and tasteful.

The product featured above is called the Treasure Trove gift tin. The box it comes in is really pretty (it's here in my apartment, so I know what I'm talking about) and the contents are high quality. You'll be happy to know I didn't actually try these exact ones out, but I already own the feather, honey dust, and oil.

Please note: no one is paying me anything to say this, and I've owned the honey dust/feather AND oil for months.

Personally, I think the honey dust stuff is genius. It's literally honey in the form of a non-sticky powder, that you (or, ideally, your partner) applies with the feather. It feels so soft and if you do happen to taste it, it tastes like honey.

I will point out that unlike actual honey, it doesn't stick to anything, comes off easily in the shower, and won't ruin your sheets. (I'm just saying.)

I love this mostly because I live for light touches. No massage is light enough for me, and if it wouldn't be weird, I'd actually request that massage therapists just used their fingertips to touch me instead of actually kneading my muscles. But it would be weird, so I don't.

Not sure why I just shared that, but there you go.

Of course, if you like harder massages and can talk your partner into giving you one, the oil is kind of awesome. Yes, it's the kind that heats up. I personally think this kind of thing is awesome on places like the shoulders and back and not as great when you get to the...uh...privatey areas... but it depends on what you're going for and your personal preferences. I just recommend you try the heated oil on a "lesser sensitive" part of your body first. (Trust me when I say that's not a lesson you wanna learn the hard way.)

I don't know anything about the lotion, but it looks nice and says it's "cooling" and that seems pretty nifty. Perhaps you can add lotion if you get a little carried away with the heat from the oil?

So if you'd like to win this fun little gift tin, please just leave a comment -- about anything, really -- and include your location so we can avoid duplications in the case of same-name entries. I will pick the winner at random and post her/his name here on Wednesday morning, by 9 a.m. PST.

Good luck & Happy Friday!

(Updated: The contest will end at 8 p.m. PST on Tuesday evening.)



Tuesday, March 03, 2009

80s TV Themes

I very much appreciate the empathy you've shown in response to my plus-size pregnancy post. I am stoked that a couple of you said that it's been helpful to have such a thing written, but I have to say: it makes me feel a MILLION times better that there are those of you out there who get it, who got it, who did it, who never had problems, who continue to send the message -- to me and to anyone reading -- to trust ourselves. Thank you.

I am almost as pleased to discover that so many of you also do not understand the word "escrow." It's a bitch and I hate it. Hate on it. Hate into it. Hate around it. Whatever.

Lastly, I am happy to say that I will be doing a GIVEAWAY tomorrow of a fun, sensual product. (For real!) I would have done it sooner, but I've been knee-deep in all kinds of weird house, car, exhaustion, and a cappella stuff.

(Notice how I didn't say "packing"? I mean, I've been thinking about packing and dreaming about packing...that's practically the same thing, right? Besides, I'm pretty positive the Packing Gnomes are coming tonight while I sleep, so we're all good...)

* * * * * * * * * * * *

One of the things I promised myself I'd do before time got totally away from me was arrange a medley of 80s TV Theme Songs. I'm pretty sure we've narrowed down the list, but just in case I might be missing/forgetting something...I open up the floor to you.

Update: I have looked on Google and have polled the group, but really, I'm looking for the most popular songs -- the ones the (non-existent) audience would really want to hear. What would we be crazy to skip over?

Please bear in mind that we're all female, and that the oldest member of our group is only 33 (hi) and that the youngest member of our group was born in 1986 (I know, ouch). So the mix has to be broad and both adult- and child-oriented. Themes without words won't work as well.

Looking forward to your thoughts...

* * * * * * * * * * *

In the meantime, I will share with you that I was IMing Ish and my friend, Ben, about The Facts of Life. Ish and Ben were rather surprised that none of the Facts of Life stars ended up in softcore porn. (Quoth Ish, "That's an upset.") And then I was waxing poetic about the fate of the show, and IMed the following, in exactly the lines below, which Ben thought would make an amazing poem.

I concur. I call it...

"Not Even Skinemax"

Fame smiled on the set of Facts of Life
but, like that episode of 90210
when they were like,
"Someone is going to DIE"
and then it was a character no one liked and didn't really know,
Fame smiled, but not on any of the girls
or Edna
or Andy or whatsherface
or even Geri
Fame accidentally hit the handyman
oh well

Sunday, March 01, 2009

We're Probably Moving (And Can Be Very Happy)

As I may have mentioned, we sort of maybe bought a house. I don't know for sure. That's because we're in "escrow" and I don't actually understand what that means.

"Escrow" is one of those words that people use as though everyone should know what it means so you can't ask because what kind of dumbass are you? But then to try and figure it out in context doesn't help at all, because people use the word "escrow" in so many ways.

Sometimes "escrow" seems to be synonymous with "bank account."

Example:
Realtor: ...and then the deposit will go into escrow.

Right, okay.

But then in the same conversation your realtor will tell you that YOU are in escrow, and you'll be like, Huh? I haven't even left your office. But you won't say that out loud because you know that's an even dumber thing to think.

Still, it's weird. Your money goes into escrow, and then you are in escrow, except you most certainly are not in the same place as your money. Somehow "Escrow" has become a sci-fi planet, and you and your money are both on it but in parallel dimensions.

But if not actually parallel dimensions on a made-up planet, escrow is at least a magical place with special language properties. Your deposit goes INTO escrow, and somehow that makes YOU now be IN escrow.

And just when you want to take this situation up with the context police, you discover that hey! You know the word, "contract"? Which you've never had any trouble with before? Well now "contract" also has magical "escrow" properties! Because, see, you enter INTO contract (or "a" contract, just to keep things interesting) immediately after which you are IN contract. Poof! Sign a dotted line, the "to" comes right off of "in."

But we're not finished! Because the most hilarious thing about all this is that if you enter into (a) contract on a house, you're IN escrow! Right. For no reason that makes any sense to someone grappling with vocabulary-by-context, "contract" suddenly becomes synonymous with "escrow" even though they mean two totally different things.

And somewhere around the point where "escrow" and "contract" and "contingencies" turn into convoluted conversations about non-non-refundable increases in deposits and your husband is having heated debates over the tax implications of entering into a loan agreement WITH HIMSELF, I'm like, Hmm, I wonder what color we'll paint the baby's room.

The good news is that if we jump through about half a dozen more hoops, we'll cross the there-honestly-can't-be-any-more-contingencies-now threshold and we will close on the house a week from Tuesday.

So really, it's time to start packing.

* * * * * * * * *

Speaking of packing...

I wasn't kidding when I said I have more than one box full of stuff labeled "blog fodder." I don't care if the stuff is months or years old, either. It's still funny. Or you know, my version of funny.

Today's gem is from a little over a year ago, when I left a note for my landlord saying I was moving out of my old place to move here with Pete.

My former landlord was the sweetest lady in the world. Her name is Fumi, and she came here from Japan a few decades ago. Still, her English was exceptionally choppy and made for challenging and sometimes uncomfortable hallway conversation. She ran a small personalized embroidery shop next door to our building that was closed seemingly all of the time. Sometimes she'd go on vacation to Japan for weeks on end.

Fumi would often wear Japanese-inspired clothes (kimonos, for example) and had frizzy, permed hair circa 1985. She would decorate our small entrance with gorgeous flower arrangements, which stuck out against the horrible tacky hotel-like prints and paintings of things like ships on a stormy sea.

At Christmas, she would put colored lights on the one potted pant near the stairs, along with tufts of cotton to suggest snow had fallen there. She'd also stick candy-cane and wreath decals on the doorway, the kind reminiscent of 2nd grade classrooms. She'd also buy little felt stockings and put all our names on them (there were only six apartments in the building) and fill each with a bottle of wine and leave it on our doorstep.

At Halloween, she'd put out bowls of candy and hang fake cobwebs. She'd also put a sound-maker under a hidden mat at the foot of the stairs, so that anytime you'd step on it, it would scream. Hilarious on so many levels!

The best part about Fumi, though, were the little notes she would leave the tenants. They were all handwritten, and then copied using a fax machine (remember when that was the most efficient way to make a photocopy at home?). All her letters were printed on fax paper. I imagine younger tenants having no idea where on earth the semi-opaque, rolled-up paper would have come from.

Notes from Fumi often had misspellings, especially where she spelled phonetically and was clearly mispronouncing the words in her head. She also always used very interesting and somewhat inexplicable punctuation.

I have a few of these saved, which I'll post here (my favorite is the "house rules" which read like haiku). The last one she sent is below.

Perfectly charming. I hope you enjoy!