Quote of the Day

Friday, December 31, 2010

another year bites the dust

If you're like me, you're finding yourself here on New Year's Eve trying to figure out how on earth another year managed to sneak its way to an end while your back was apparently turned (all while scrambling through the back of your closet trying to find a dress to wear). And of course trying to come up with clever last-minute New Year's resolutions, just in case someone asks you (someone will), and because if you put making them off until next week as you're tempted, it will completely fuck up your 2010 resolution to procrastinate less, and that's no way to bid a year adieu.

I sort of inadvertently made a resolution a few weeks ago when I finally joined the 21st century and switched from my $20-no internet-no camera-no regret if I lose it-Go phone to an iphone (second hand, though... BABY STEPS). I vowed to myself that I would not get drunk on the power of all that technology (literally) at my fingertips, lest I become one of those people who seem to have their phone surgically attached to their hand, or apparently find social networking at a bar or restaurant more important and interesting than actual socializing with the people around them. Or, god forbid, one of those people downtown I constantly shake my head at, who are always on the verge of bumping into you because instead of looking where they're going their eyes are glued down at the little electronic device in their hands.

This phenomenon seems to be growing at an alarming rate, and besides annoying, I also actually find it quite sad. I have to wonder, have people become so numb to their surroundings and so apathetic to the world around them that they prefer the little universe in their phone to the physical one? What ever happened to walking down the street head up, eyes open, taking in the sights and sounds and occasional spectacle? Just think of all you miss... the pristine majesty of a skyscraper, the bright-colored new mural on the side of a building, the guy playing the organ on the corner, tufts of cloud just turning pink and orange as you make your way home from work, the waggly-tailed Boxer puppy straining against his leash to try and sniff your leg, the guy in the gorilla suit at the bus stop (hey, I live in San Francisco...). Being alert, present and conscious of your surroundings should not just be for tourists, it should be an everyday way of life.

So all of this got me to thinking that this year, I want to be start living my life more consciously. Not just by avoiding whiling away an inordinate amount of time on my iphone or laptop, but by being more aware of each day and each moment, more observant of the world around me, the needs of others, the beauty in the details. And more than that, more conscious of time as a whole, on a bigger scale. I know it's cliche, but it really seems like as I get older the years start to go by faster and faster, and before I know it the year and so many of my plans for it have gotten swept up in the whirlwind of days trailing back the months on the calendar I'm throwing out to make room for the new. Sometimes I feel like I get so caught up in the tasks and goals and dramas of the day that I don't even leave myself time to look forward. So this year I hope will be the year I figure it out. Or if not quite figure it out, make steps in that direction and start to make bigger plans for my life, for positive change and growth. Make a concerted effort to occasionally take a step back from the urgency's of the moment to take a wider look at time, at my life and the world and my place in it.

This all is a tall task for me, and part of me wishes I'd just said I vow to go to the gym more often and cut down on refined sugar... but deep down I know I have the resolve, and the support and encouragement of loved ones. Looking back on 2010, it's been a pretty dynamic one for my group of friends. It's seen moves, dramas, major life decisions, new jobs, new outlooks and changes in relationships. It's shaken us all up a little, for bad and for good. Mostly for good, I think. But through all of it, I had a solid foundation, people in my life who I was there for, and who were there for me. And I have faith that whatever this new year brings, we'll continue to see each other through.

So wherever tonight finds you, I hope it is filled with glitter, friends and reckless dancing, and most importantly, that your night and your 2011 are filled with love.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 24, 2010

from now on, our troubles will be miles away

I know it's Christmas Eve, and I should probably be writing some warm, fuzzy little ditty about how the fire is crackly and the lights are twinkly and I'm grateful for such-and-such, etc., etc. And it's not that I'm not grateful, or that I'm not happy that Christmas is here with its family time and cheer and ornaments and chocolate and comfortably familiar pine-scented living room. It's just that I'm feeling a little melancholy and a little reflective. Maybe a bit disillusioned.

I keep thinking back to a post I wrote last summer, a time when I guess the world through my eyes seemed somewhat renewed; fresh and full of possibilities. And I've been wondering if maybe I was just a little naive; blinded perhaps, by adrenaline and new hope. I don't know, maybe I was wrong. Maybe everything in life does have to be difficult and painful, and I just wanted it to be easy. Maybe the good things that come our way are really all just blind coincidence, and we hold onto those and try to assign them deeper meaning in order to make ourselves feel better.

But still, even when it seems like everything's going wrong and that my assertion that things really can be that simple seems like the delusional, naive ranting of a madwoman, it seems that deep down, the die-hard optimist in me still stubbornly insists that things can be, should be easy, as the natural state of things. That it's not life or work or relationships that are necessarily hard, but us making things hard for ourselves most of the time. Because we doubt, we second-guess, over-think and self-sabatoge. Because we're afraid of failure, or of commitment or of getting hurt. Or maybe even of realizing what it really is we want, because then we have to dig down and find the will and the courage to go and get it. And all of this because, after all, we are human.

I feel like when we're kids, everything seemed so much easier. And yes, of course this is due largely to the fact that as children we are generally taken care of and protected. We don't have to worry about rent and bills and deadlines and dating and finding jobs and keeping jobs. We don't have to figure out what we're doing with our lives or wonder if we're on the right path, because, when you're a child, there is all the time in the world for that still. But I have a sneaking suspicion it may also have something to do with the fact that as we grow older, we start to be told, over and over and with increasing frequency, that the universe is cruel. Love is painful. Life is a bitch and then you die. We're taught that we need to harden and prepare ourselves for this dog-eat-dog world, as if going into battle. It almost seems like this all becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I kind of have to wonder how it's even possible for us to have a fighting chance.

So how then, do we rediscover that simplicity, that ease of life? I wish I knew for sure, because... well, it would sure make things EASIER (hah). But I think that maybe: a little more compassion, open-mindedness, laughter. A bit more faith in the world and the people around us. A little less taking ourselves and everything just so goddamn seriously (because we're adults). Being a little more conscious of the energy we hold in our hearts and give out to the world. And a little more surrendering some of the hard-fought control we seem to need to have over every aspect of our lives and giving ourselves over just a bit to intuition and the universe and the mysterious forces that rule it. I don't know, maybe I really am a delusional madwoman, or a crazy hippie. Or maybe I'm just over-simplifying. But I still have to think that if we can let go a little and just get out of our own way, maybe that's a good start. That's where I intend to start anyway.

So I hope that this Christmas finds things easy for you, wherever you are. And if not easy, then I hope they are at least good. And if they can't be good, then hopeful.

Merry Christmas, and may your hearts be light.

Friday, October 22, 2010

over the hills and down memory lane

Driving down Guerrero on this damp, grey morning, Led Zeppelin came on the radio and suddenly I was audibly transported to senior year of high school... driving my '83 Volvo wagon to school (tardy, of course) in the late fall rain, sleep-blurred eyes at 8am wakening to the sounds of 107.7 "The Bone" blasting on my car radio: Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Who. I think that there must be nothing quite like that time in your life when you really discover classic rock for the first time. It is an epiphany of a profound nature, especially to the teenage mind. So welcome to my little trip down memory lane, and please enjoy the music. Happy rainy Friday!

Thursday, October 14, 2010


All of a sudden my head is whirling with possibility, body longing for grass and sky, mind for creative outlet. There is still next to no free time but I can almost see the light of the end of the tunnel, and all of a sudden I can think of a million things I want to do...

Get up early on Saturday to make homes and plant things in the ground. Slap on some sneakers and go on a hike. Take museum trips. Go to shows and get lost in the music. Make snowflakes. Learn to surf, rejoicing in surrendering myself to the waves. Read War and Peace, lying in the sun. Build a window seat. Strum my uke 'til my fingers hurt. Take a hoop class and dance in the park on a Sunday afternoon. Dip my toes in nerve-numbing ocean. Bust out my long- neglected acrylics and paint, colors exploding like fireworks in my mind, spilling onto blank canvas as synapses spark.

And suddenly, I feel rejuvenated, because through the exhaustion and the confusion, I feel inspired. I am alive. The world rocks me gently, whispers: "Be well, go forth, create."

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

keeping it together, keeping it real

I think I had a minor nervous breakdown the other day, and it wasn't pretty. But I think maybe it helped me realize some things. Let me start at the beginning. See, I feel like for the past month or so I've been sitting in a giant pressure cooker of an office, mind and body growing ever more tired as the clock ticks on and 12 hour days and 60 hour weeks and even my dreams start to blend together in that wondrous time we in the world of political advertising euphemistically call an Election Cycle.

And then a funny thing seems to happen: the stress of work and the deprival of things you love to do, the things that make you feel good that you have give up in order to sit in an office all day, start to combine and morph into a fear of losing the people in your life you care about--alienating them because you never have time, driving them away because when you do you're tired, or cranky, or just brain-dead and probably not very interesting to be around. I think this is the worst part, the anxiety of losing the people who help to make you happy and keep you sane in the first place. And I know that for the most part it's an irrational fear, but when you're living in Crazy-town and not really feeling like yourself, it can be damn hard not to believe.

I feel like I've been kind of a loner for a large part of my life, and mostly relied on myself. I don't take a lot of people into confidence, and I seem to be allergic to asking for help. But I have learned over the years to trust and let people in, and I know how important it is to have those people, few as they may be, who really get you and will be there for you, to laugh and cause mischief with in good times, and to remind you to breath and steer you back to something resembling sanity in the tougher times. But I also know that it's ultimately up to me to keep myself afloat; to have the insight to know my limits and to remember that I have the strength to finish what I start. And most importantly to remind myself that my life is good and the world beautiful, despite the chaos of the current moment.

Yesterday one of our freelancers came into my office, clearly distraught, to tell me he had to leave for the day. Later that day I found myself responding to his apologetic email explaining that he wouldn't be in the rest of the week with the reassurance that "there are more important things in life" than mail pieces, and I suddenly realized that I haven't really been living this philosophy myself. Yes, I take pride in my work; in doing the best job I can and following through on my commitments, and for that to happen work has to pretty much dominate my life and take up most of my time for the moment. But that doesn't mean it has to define me, or defeat me.

In a post at the beginning of the New Year I resolved: "to make the choice to take control of my life and exercise my free will to be happy. To not let anything or anyone take the joy out of me, not let anyone make the sun seem less bright or the world less beautiful through my eyes." I think that I need to remember that resolution now more than ever, to practice what I preach and apply it to my current situation. To keep my wits and my sense of humor, and not let my job and all its pressures dim my view of life or make me an anchor to drag myself and others down. I just need to have the mental fortitude to cling to this philosophy, and faith in the saintly patience of loved ones to not abandon me in my occasional times of anxiety or delusion. And maybe a rock garden.

And if I manage to make it out of this election cycle in one piece, I also resolve to finally get the tattoo I've been wanting for almost a year now (sorry mom): the word "timshel", as a more tangible reminder of the free will that gives me the power over my life; the choice that only I can make to be live well, love well and see the beauty in everything always. Because though you may not know it to spend 5 minutes in my office this fall, there are more important things than mail pieces.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Oh, Life. You are just full of surprises, aren't you, you cheeky, sneaky bugger? You've got to love the way life sometimes just sweeps you off your feet when you least expect it; knocks your legs right out from under you and then sets you right back up at a slightly different angle, and suddenly your world is just a little different. It can be a scary feeling, I think especially because we humans tend to like comfort, keeping the status quo. We generally like to know what to expect out of our day, out of our jobs, our friends, our life.

It's crazy to me how happening to be in a certain place at an exact time can determine which way your life goes, change it for good or bad. You happen to go to a certain bar and meet the love of your life. Take a different route home and run into an old friend. Transfer into a class and change your entire career path. Step into a car and lose your life. You just never know when and how all the factors will line up to slightly shift your perspective or completely alter your existence.

So along you go, walking down the street minding your own business, when the forces of the universe suddenly swoop in and do their thing. I'm not saying I necessarily believe in fate... I like to think that for the most part we are in control of our lives and make our own destiny. But I can't help thinking sometimes that there must be some sort of deeper cosmic balance that mixes in with the massive web of seemingly random happenstances that shape our lives.

I know that life is full of coincidence and random tragedies, but as corny as it may sound, I also truly believe that the energy you put out into the universe is the energy returned to you, and that when you open yourself up, opportunities present themselves. But you have to keep an open eye and open heart.
"When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it,” Paulo Coelho writes in The Alchemist, and maybe that really is true. Maybe even when you're not exactly sure what it is you want, the universe can step in with a little nudge and a wink to help you find your way.

This I know: we humans are complex beings. We're used to struggling. We're used to having to deal with challenges, and we have a natural instinct to compete, often viewing life as a game to win or a puzzle to solve. And I think that because of this we often become jaded into thinking that all of life is hard, that everything must be a struggle. We become suspicious of anything that seems too easy or too good, and often make things hard for ourselves. So I'd like to think that sometimes the universe also gives us a little push to remind us that just maybe, occasionally, things can be easy. Happiness, love, life. So goddamned beautifully, simply easy that it just bowls you over.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

a short essay on bullshit & the meaning of life

I know, I know, I have been terribly neglectful. Some may have thought I had completely abandoned this poor blog. Some have apparently even dared to think that I may have acquired this thing that I hear they call a "life". Well put your fearful minds at ease, I assure you this is not the case.

No, I would like to explain my absence by telling you all that I have in fact, for the past few years (although it appears to have been a mere few months for you all here on earth) been living a beautiful and thought-provoking existence on a faraway planet whose name I'm afraid I have never been able to pronounce, which I was brought to by some lovely new friends who were kind enough to have beamed me up to their ship, sometime... well, it looks like shortly after Earth Day 2010, what do you know!

To those of you who may interject here that you have
seen me blatantly roaming the streets of San Francisco, may have in fact sworn you've spoken with me, I must explain that my earthly body was for this time replaced by a strikingly life-like hologram. And as we all know, holograms are terrible typers. Perhaps one day I will share some of my adventures, but for now I will simply leave you with this thought of the day:

A Short Essay on Bullshit & the Meaning of Life

This is how I see it: every day of our lives we are surrounded by bullshit. Big Bullshit. Little Bullshit. Funny Bullshit. Ugly Bullshit. And downright mean Bullshit. I mean, that's a whole lot of bullshit. It's finding a way to wade through all the bullshit to what's good and what's real--and the sense of humor we keep while doing so--that gets us through. Because if you get bogged down by it, you drown.

le fin

Oh, and luckily I haven't aged a bit! Life is good on planet what's-its-name.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

in honor of earth day & national poetry month...

Knowledge is a wonderful thing. It's fascinating to learn how something works, to see the driving force of science in nature, broken down into little pieces that fit perfectly together in the solid, irrefutable truth of an equation or formula. And it is important, too, to gain knowledge of ourselves and our world; how it works and how we can work together.

But sometimes... sometimes I think we can become too wrapped up in the dry facts and mechanics of things to see the beauty of them, plain and simple, letting textbooks and manuals rule our world. Or always needing answers, preoccupying ourselves with definitions and explanations, trying to make everything in our lives fit into perfectly ordered boxes and categories.

I think that sometimes in our lives we need the divine mystery, the childlike sense of wonder. Sometimes we need to forget about the
how and the why and the where, and merely celebrate the is. To throw away the map and revel in being lost, knowing that eventually we'll reach the destination, in our own way, with only our heart and the stars to guide.

I think Whitman understood this.

When I Heard The Learn'd Astronomer
-Walt Whitman (1819-1892)-

When I heard the learn'd astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much
applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander'd off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

when more is not enough...

For years I've heard the complaints about Starbucks and their confusingly pretentious, culturally ambiguous drink sizes. Venti, Grande... Tall? Well what the hell is this, Englitalian? Are these cups Spanish? Italian? Second-generation Mexican-American growing up in Little Italy? Just who the fuck do they think they are, anyway??

But never fear, my darlings! Now to continue on in the fine tradition of caffeinated conundrum emerges the
"Trenta", a 31-ounce iced drink size currently being offered at Starbucks locations in Phoenix and Tampa. The very thought makes my bladder cower in fear. And yet I have this unshakable feeling that the monstrous beverage option will be embraced by a disturbingly large section of the American public.

I would like to think, as a fairly reasonable person generally believing in moderation, that 31 ounces of coffee or tea (or 30 if you count out the ice, I guess), would be an appallingly ridiculous excess; the size an epic failure. But then again, this is America, the Land of More, where Bigger is always Better. After all, according to reports, Starbucks came up with the mammoth Trenta in an attempt to compete with the popular demand for much larger (also usually much cheaper!) drink sizes provided by places such as McDonald's and 7-Eleven.

The really unsettling thing as far as I'm concerned is this: even discounting the disturbing levels of caffeine unleashed into the consumer's bloodstream, just imagine the massive amount of sugar that must go into a sweetened version! I would think that would be a job for about half a bottle of classic syrup each.

But even worse--and come on, you know it's only a matter of time--just think of when 31 ounces becomes so popular that the next logical step is to offer Trenta mochas, Trenta hazelnut-vanilla-extra-vanilla lattes, Trenta java-choco-loco frappuccinos. In fact, I'd be willing to bet they've fielded customer requests already. Try as I might I cannot shake the ominous image of hordes of mall-rat tweengirls, tourists and middle-aged businessmen alike shuffling out of Starbucks stores nation-wide, holding an entire week's worth of empty, whipped cream-topped calories in their hot little hands. And we wonder why obesity is such a rapidly growing health crisis in our country.

It's times like this that make me want to grab the entire United States of America by the shoulders, give 'er a good shake, and say "What are you doing to yourself, dude? Have you no shame?" Seriously, put down the giant cup of slow liquid death, and back away slowly . Your nerves and cholesterol levels with thank you. As will your bladder.

And hey, whaddaya know... it looks like Ellen agrees with me! You tell 'em, sister.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

it's all in your mind

Last evening the sky was like an impressionist painting. A painting in motion, turquoise swatches peeking out from between big jaunty puffs of cloud, slowly turning color as I walked from Market Street to Divisadero; darkening cumulonimbus encroaching upon the last strains of sunset and reminding me somehow of early summer nights and gently tumultuous seas... and something else, a persistent feeling I could not pin down, floating just out of reach on the late evening breeze and lingering on my mind.

I have these moments when I encounter an inexplicable sense of abstract nostalgia, triggered by something so subtle, so obscure that I can't quite seem to put my finger on it. It may be the color or cloud pattern of the sky, the route taken home, a faint whiff of incense or wood smoke, even just a certain intangible energy in the air. I don't know what it was the other night that evoked in me this feeling, just as I can't account for why a year ago, wandering alone down strange streets on my first trip to Chicago, I found myself overcome with an odd sense of familiarity almost akin to deja vu. And it wasn't the first time it had happened.

I can't explain how a place I've never been before can awaken nostalgia in me, or how I can suddenly be transported to a completely different time and place while walking down the same streets I see every day. And I'm not sure whether this is a common phenomenon or not. It's a very curious and slightly spooky sensation, this feeling somewhere between nostalgia and deja vu and yet not quite either. But it's also actually quite pleasant, if at times in a bittersweet way. I can only describe it as feeling very alive, very aware and present, and yet at the same time with a slight shift in consciousness, caught up in a vague ephemeral ghost of memory or mood.

It's the kind of experience that makes me believe that there could be such a thing as reincarnation, and leaves me marveling at the complexity and mystery of the human brain, that tiny subtle cues of sight or smell or sound can somehow trigger connections that we didn't even know were there, or that seem impossible, that we can't even explain in words.

Perhaps serendipitously, this morning on NPR I happened to hear a story about a recent study published in the scientific journal PNAS. The research in this particular study found that "the emotion tied to a memory lingers in the mind even after the memory is gone." So maybe this is what I've been experiencing all along. Perhaps even after long forgotten events and days have faded into the distant depths of mind and heart, their ghosts linger on to haunt us at an unexpected time or place, leaving us slightly shaken or strangely comforted. I wonder if some of us are more prone to this than others, and if so why. Either way, I find it fascinating to ponder the possibilities.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

big fucking deal

About a year ago I wrote about the now all-but-forgotten Michael Phelps bong scandal, and how ridiculous I find it that the nation was so shocked and ready to condemn this young man, when everyone and their mother (well ok, maybe not my mother, but probably everyone else's) has smoked a little weed at a party or two (or three or four or...). And now once again, with the media abuzz and the country up in arms over Joe Biden's potty mouth, I find myself amazed (and yet somehow not really surprised) at what a goddamned puritanical society we seem to be. Whoopise, did I let let a curse word slip there?? My bad.

America likes its athletes squeaky=clean and wholesome, and its leaders dignified, god-fearing and infallible (AHEM, explain George Bush Jr. to me then please. Seriously, please, someone try, because I still don't get it...), so inevitably people freak out when those they put on a pedestal are involved with drugs or sex or *gasp* ...swearing? (Of course W's druggie/alcoholic past doesn't count, that was before he was important, and so can apparently be forgiven and overlooked). Well, perhaps I should clarify: people freak out when there is visual and/or auditory proof of such behavior. Because come on, who of us really thinks that a 20-something athlete high on fame and success isn't going to do a little partying and a little getting high on something else, or that Barack Obama isn't letting a few cuss words fly when off air in the Oval Office? Those in serious denial, or suffering from extreme naivete
, that's who.

But this is the message the media constantly sends in our society: that no matter how common place certain actions and behaviors may be, and no matter how ultimately benign, they are not to be publicly shown. That we, the masses, are free to do what we will, but those the nation holds in esteem--celebrities, politicians--are to be held to a higher standard. This is the price to pay for fame and power: you must be perfect. Or, at least, project the appearance of perfection. It's a ridiculous standard to live up to, and one doomed to failure. And it's this hypocritical brand of censorship that perpetuates the ridiculous taboos our country stubbornly clings to. It's why the US is widely seen as the Prude of the Western World. And I have to think that it shows a serious misplacement of priorities.

Case in point: the editorial staff at the Hartford Courant called the incident "a blunder that sullied a historic moment." This is, in a word, ridiculous. If anything, the ones sullying this historic legislative victory are those who are placing greater importance on a curse word than on the health care bill itself and what it will mean to the lives of millions of Americans. But seriously. In a few years, ask a 12-year-old girl who was able to receive the health care she needed in order to fight her cancer and survive how she feels about Joe Biden "sullying" the passing of health care reform with a naughty word. I would love to hear the response.

As a good friend of mine astutely pointed out (and she would know), those who work in politics are only a close second to sailors in their use of profanity (also in use of alcohol, but that is another story). Having worked amongst political folk for a good year and a half now, I can personally attest to this (thank the lord, I fit in just fine from the get-go). So I don't know, am I just desensitized to profane language? Am I wrong in thinking one little swear word should not have caused such a shit storm when there are bigger fish to fry? Is it just me, or the word "fuck" far less offensive than one of George W's fabricated linguistic atrocities or mispronunciations? And what, I have to ask, ever happened to Freedom of Speech? You know, that oft-quoted part of the First Amendment of the Constitution that we Americans hold so dear?

Granted, this is certainly not Biden's first gaffe, not his first verbal faux pas. He has a storied reputation for putting his foot in his mouth over some issue or another, and has often been criticized making himself, Obama and even the Democratic Party as a whole look a fool. But I have to point out: at least you know he's real. And personally, I'd rather have a VP who swears and sometimes speaks without thinking but says what he means than a slick, smooth-talking politician who merely pays lip service.

Sure, Mr. Biden could have saved a lot of brouhaha by merely watching his language, or considering that the microphones just miiight be sensitive enough to pick up on something that was really meant for the President's ears only. But I for one actually find it endearing and heartening to think that the Vice President was maybe just too genuinely excited and happy about the passing of the health care bill to really think about censoring himself. After all, there are enough politicians who seem to care more about their public appearance, their own selfish ambitions and approval ratings, than about actually doing good things for those they represent. Priorities, people.

So thank you, Mr. Biden, for keepin' it real, for bringing a little HBO to CNN & MSNBC. To quote a tweet from Press Secretary Robert Gibbs: "yes Mr. Vice President, you're right..." The new health care bill is a big fucking deal. One little swear word, however, is not.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

mama said there'd be days like this

You know that moment... where some seemingly inconsequential little problem grabs a hold of you... and then the stresses just seem to compound head-over-tail and before you know it every little thing that's been bothering you for the past few months has suddenly gathered and is holding a virtual Caucus of Crap in your overwrought mind... and all of a sudden all the mature calmness you present to the world 98% of the time, all of your in-control, adult composure has melted away to expose a weepy little child ready to break down... and everyone around you seems to be too absorbed in their own lives to care or perhaps to even notice, so you decide to deal with it on your own, as usual, and this seems to be the moment that every creep out on the street decides to start hollering at you and you just want to scream, "I'm on the verge of tears, motherfucker, really, you find that sexy?! ...and then on the way home you see a guy in a wheelchair and three homeless people just trying to get somewhere for the night or get a few dollars for something to eat, just trying to survive, and suddenly you feel utterly ashamed for ever thinking your life sucked, even just a little bit... and yet that thought still can't quite quell the stubborn renegade tears...?

And so you curl up in bed, and take a deep breath, and you think: my life does not suck, and tomorrow is another day, and I will face it, whatever it brings, and it will be good.

Monday, March 15, 2010

and then fly away...

When I was much younger, I think maybe the thing I feared most (besides caves and mosquito lions) was rejection. It was sometimes paralyzing. I lived for a while largely in a lonely limbo of denial, unable to understand or fully admit that wherever I seemed to turn and no matter how hard I tried, I just did not belong. Stubbornly unwilling to accept that people could very simply just not like me. Because for some reason I can't fully explain, it was just so important for everyone to like me.

I had to grow up a little (and find a more diverse pool of peers) to recognize the importance of real friends . The ones who want to be around you because they see you, not because you're invisible; who want to be your friend because they value the person you are, not because of what they think they can get out of you and how they can take advantage of you; those who make the effort to know you because they see that there might just be more to you than what's apparent on the surface.

But I did learn this. I learned how to recognize a true friend and how to say "fuck it" to the opinions of those who are not. I learned to not care about what people think, except for the opinions of those few who really matter, and realized that the most important person to make happy is myself.

And yet, even though I know so much better now, I will admit that there is still the occasional situation, the moment of doubt or rejection that takes me by surprise and finds me reverting back to my 12-year-old mindset of "What? Why would anyone not like me? Why would someone not want to be my friend? Surely this must be a mistake, how do I fix this?"

And this is when the "adult" me has to take over and remember the reality: that for whatever reason, there are going to be people you meet along the way who are not going to like you, may even hate you. There are people who may think you're A-Ok but are unable or unwilling to see any deeper. There will be people who think they know you but have no idea, and there will be people who get to know you but decide they don't need you in their life.

And as hard as it can be to accept, those individuals--the ones who misjudge you, who don't want to make the effort to really know you, who don't think it's worth their while to spend time with you or sometimes even to properly acknowledge you...they simply don't belong in your life. Not when you have friends and family who sincerely care, and so many amazing people in the world yet to meet.

Part of me really wishes I could travel back in time and tell this to my younger self. Because the realization is so liberating, the moment so profoundly freeing and empowering when you accept that it's not worth caring about, and just let go. But I guess some things you just have to learn the hard way for them to really stick.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

happy birthday blog

Last Saturday marked not only my own birthday, but also the anniversary of starting this crazy blog experiment. So here I find myself one year and 40-something posts later, and I have to say that I'm a bit impressed at how well I've kept at it, considering the myriad of half-completed projects that often trail behind me like the proverbial breadcrumbs on the path of life (or the proverbial good intentions paving the way to hell??). Considering that I have a shameful tendency to start things and never finish them.

But somehow over these months I've managed to fill the pages, or rather the computer screen. Maybe I've matured, maybe I've gained some discipline. Perhaps I just find it entertaining, or cathartic, or satisfyingly narcissistic to put my thoughts out into the world. Whatever the reason, I'm still here. There's this quote from Vita Sackville-West that I really love, because it reminds me why I wanted to start this blog, and why I write at all:
"It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop. Growth is exciting; growth is dynamic and alarming. Growth of the soul, growth of the mind."

So I will continue to write, in order to capture the skittish thoughts bouncing around in my brain, to grasp onto the fleeting moments, foibles and fancies of my life and preserve them in a digital eternity. And hopefully in some way expand my mind and soul by pouring just a little of them out onto the computer screen.

When I started this blog I honestly had no idea if anyone would ever read it, and although I told myself it didn't matter because that's not what this was about, I admit that it is gratifying to know that my words are being seen, perhaps pondered, agreed or disagreed with. And so I want to say that, friend or stranger, I am glad you have found your way here, and maybe found something of value in my ramblings. Thank you for your comments and encouragement, whether voiced or silent. And if you, dear real or imaginary reader, are continuing to follow, I re-extend my welcome and thank you for again stopping by.

*photo borrowed from wordlicious.com, though I do not know who to originally credit it to*

Monday, February 22, 2010

the reluctant optimist

I have realized that I am a complete and utter failure as a pessimist. Even on the darkest of days, when I feel completely overwhelmed by questions of where my life path is going, or utterly discouraged and depressed by the state of the world and the endless cycle of fucked up things people do to each other... even on the days when I feel I have to fight the urge to punch everyone I see or take deep calming breaths just not to burst into tears in the middle of a crowded room... it seems that all I need is fresh air on my face, a gorgeous night sky, the wag of a puppy tail or the strains of a favorite song in my ear to seep through my blues and remind me that life is good, that the world is a beautiful place and that tomorrow will be another day filled with simple pleasures and happy surprises and the kindness of friends (or even strangers).

The cruel irony of optimism is that that smug fucker hope always springs eternal. I realize that for the most part hope is a good thing, something that the world could generally use more of. But I tell you, it can be exhausting. And it i
inevitably brings expectations, which can then be let down. I have to think that it might be comforting to be a pessimist; to never expect anything, or to always expect the worst. To wallow cozily in curmudgeonly gloom & doom. To not have constant hopes and dreams to be swept up in a stormy wave and dashed against the rocks. Because for the optimist, even when our hopes are crushed in the cruelest of ways and for all rights we should become jaded beyond repair, we always seem to bounce back, ready for more.

Marya Mannes once said,
“The curse of the romantic is a greed for dreams, an intensity of expectation that, in the end, diminishes the reality”.

Maybe then, this is the curse of the optimist as well, to dream too vividly, hope too fervently, foster imaginations that run like wild stallions, beautiful but dangerous.
But I have to wonder: is it not possible to appreciate the reality and yet still harbor great expectations? After all, can we not see the world as it is but believe we can make it better? Maybe the problem is not the hopes and expectations themselves but the lack of initiative to make them real?

To be honest I don't really know, but either way, I have to think that a "greed for dreams" and "intensity of expectation" are essential to the human spirit. Some are greedier than others, some are better at pursuing their dreams, and some may become so discouraged and cynical that they feel like giving up dreaming altogether. But in order to truly be human, in order not to lose our spark, I think we have to harbor great hopes and dreams. And when we manage to make our dreams become reality, that is something amazing to behold; a priceless victory and triumph of the spirit. But even if we fail, at least the dream was there, at least we held its fire in our hands and hope in our heart. There's no shame in that.

And when the optimist's insane, stubborn insistence that the universe is benevolent, that people are generally good at heart and that you are ultimately in control of your own destiny is proven correct in any way, those small victories are almost magical, and the I Told You So so much sweeter, not just because we were right, but because of the implications that holds.

And I for one wouldn't want to live any other way. In the immortal words of the Rolling Stones: you can't always get what you want. Dreams will inevitably be crushed, setbacks will occur. People will disappoint you. These are facts that simply must be accepted in order for each little blow not to cave in our entire world and send us reeling into the abyss. But that doesn't mean you stop trying, or stop trusting. It doesn't mean you stop believing in magic or serendipity or the power of the heart and the human spirit. After all, that would be to give up on life itself.

So no matter the hurt and disappointment I'm potentially setting myself up for, I have to believe in "next time", I have to believe that the people I put faith in won't let me down,
that I will learn from my mistakes, that honest efforts will be rewarded and patience will not be in vain, that with hard work and conviction dreams can come to fruition, and that each month and each year will be better than the last. That life is good but can always be better; that I can always be better.

And I'm guessing that hope and intensity of expectation will continue to slap me around and let me down, time and time again, but at least I know that this reluctant optimist will always bounce back up, feet on the ground, head in the clouds.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

sf, stereotypes and the myth of the modern san franciscan

What the eff, Mike Giant.

You may make some badass art, but I have to say, I just don't get this. Maybe it's because I'm a terribly old-fashioned San Franciscan generally in the habit of wearing underwear, but I honestly am not quite sure if this piece is supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, outright farcical or dead serious. And even more perplexing, I can't seem to decide if it's sincerely meant to be an ode or rather an insult. I mean, I think that personally, I would be offended if I actually fit into this stereotype somehow.

As it is, however, I am just left feeling rather left out that as a non-Mission living, professionally employed, panty-owning woman sadly devoid of vintage frames (glasses and bike), I apparently don't belong in a modern San Francisco. And the fact that in his upcoming show (Is the "Frisco" in the title supposed to be ironic? And if so will the Italians get it? So many questions...) this overworked cliché is apparently going to be presented to a foreign nation as a representation of the archetypal San Francisco woman... well, I don't even know what to say about that.

Ok, well I will say, first of all: I'm not sure where the artist is getting his data but personally I kinda think he missed the mark. I believe I know a fairly diverse selection of females here and generally speaking, the “Modern San Franciscan Woman” I know can be described as intelligent, independent, open-minded, politically and socially active (because she cares about her city), environmentally conscious (but not obnoxiously self-righteous about it), quite likely more sexually enlightened than the rest of the country (but not slutty), perhaps often a leetle heavy-handed with the booze (but she can hold her liquor), and lives any-which-the-fuck-where she pleases in the city because she's not pretentious enough to think that you’re only cool if you live in a certain neighborhood (*cough*the Mission*cough*).

And most importantly, try as one might, the "Modern San Franciscan Woman" cannot be glibly pin-holed into a cleverly-drawn diagram because really there is no one cookie-cutter representation of her.

But what I found more interesting than the drawing itself was the discussion it incited in the comments section of the Mission Mission blog post. So right now I'm going to sidestep the whole feminist issue, for the sake of brevity, and focus on the larger picture I feel is in question here: what it means to be a citizen of San Francisco, male or female.

Now just to be clear, I do not have a problem with the Mission. I live very close to the Mission. I have friends who live there. I love Mission Dolores park, going out in the Mission,
thrifting in the mission, having brunch in the Mission, eating burritos in the Mission... you get the point.

What I do take issue with is people making arbitrary, personally-biased decisions about what makes one a San Franciscan; such as anyone trying to say that you're not a "true" SF-er if you don't ride a bike, if you don't have tattoos, don't smoke (
hella) weed, if you own a car or watch tv or live in the sunset or weren't born here. Just like it rubs me the wrong way when people automatically and derogatorily slap the hipster label on someone because they have a bike, tats and skinny jeans, or the prep/bro/marina ho tag if, God Forbid, they happen to rent an apartment in Pac Heights or Cow Hollow. It's the age old "book & cover" debaucle.

And I have an equal beef with overly-entitled SF natives who think they own the city and that everyone else should get the hell out as with the transplants who act suspiciously like the aforementioned entitled natives after living here for all of a year. And then there are those who would like to tell you that because they were born in San Francisco (nevermind their family moving away when they were 3 months old), this makes them more of a local than you. Yes, it's cool that you were born here and I'm sorry, that doesn't make you God. Or even a native.

I fully acknowledge the uniqueness and awesomeness of having been born & raised in SF (I would be proud to call myself a true native but can really only claim Native Norcal status). And alternatively I very much understand the pride transplants take in their adopted city and in having become a part of it.

What I think is stupid is the fact that we seem to feel the need to argue over who of us are more authentically San Franciscan, based on where we're from, what neighborhood we live in, what we wear/drive/ride/eat/drink, etc. What's this? Cliques? Pointless
catfights? When did this SF become one giant high school campus, anyway? Why can't we all just find common ground in our collective love and pride of our city and learn to accept (if not celebrate) the differences that make it so diverse and colorful?

In the end I have to think that anyone who seeks to define "the San Franciscan" is missing the point. Because to me, paradoxically, what it means to be San Franciscan is that we cannot be defined. Like this crazy city full of constant surprises, its residents are endlessly varied and beautifully unique. San Francisco is a place people come to be themselves, to find themselves, to see the world in 47 square miles; a place people stay because they just can't bare to leave (just how many hearts have been left in San Francisco, anyway?). It welcomes with an open heart and open mind, blind to the differences and quirks others may see as flaws. It cries:

Keep, red states, your parochial pomp! Give me your gay, your straight, Your glittered half-naked masses yearning to dance free, The unconventional refuse of your narrow-minded towns. Send these, the progressive, adventure-seeking to me, I lift my lava lamp beside the Golden Gate!*

And so I say that, if anything, what should define a true San Franciscan are these same qualities; an unwavering sense of tolerance and compassion, a refusal to stereotype, label or to look with hatred, fear and disgust upon those who are different. After all, isn't that the very spirit of San Francisco itself?

*plagiarized and bastardized from the sonnet "The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus, inscribed on the Statue of Liberty