Tuesday, October 27, 2009


ever since i returned from my glorious two-week vacation, which i still need to finish chronicling, my days have consisted of work, work and more work, both at the day jobbie and during moonlighting hours. this has left little time for blogging, socializing and spa days, three of my most cherished pastimes. part of me thinks i should begin saying “no” to jobs to regain some of the downtime i so very much miss, but the bigger part of me is a greedy bitch who thinks i have no real reason NOT to hustle.

good news is that i’m making money, none of which i have time to enjoy and all of which is sent out the door as quickly as it comes in to pay down the debt i’ve been complaining about all year. i have set myself a goal that i must meet by the end of December, and as the internet as my witness, i will meet it, maybe exceed it, even if it means work-filled weekends and tired eyes. and then i will get a massage and sleep for three days straight.

when i haven’t been working, i’ve been enjoying oktoberfest-inspired activities like drinking beer and eating finger foods. Mo is very much a microbrew aficionado and for his birthday this year (October 19, mark your calendars), i took him to the kickoff celebration of LA Beer Week, held at our very own local watering hole, the Verdugo, where we entered a raffle to win two tickets to the closing celebration of Beer Week, held at Descanso Gardens. guess what? just guess. ok, i’ll tell you: we won the raffle! and so came a glorious week bookended by beer celebrations that had us sampling some of the best craft brews in the nation. it was pure liquid love. hiccup.

October also held a little travel, both professional and personal. it began with a company-sponsored trip to Washington, DC, for a two-day FINRA conference on advertising regulations — riveting! (no joke) — where i met my fellow compliance brethren and discovered that we really are the most despised department in all financial organizations.

then i went off to a suburb of Baltimore, MD, for a few days to visit my dad’s side of the family. for reasons unknown to me, this trip seemed to turn my father into my mother for a few days, which resulted in him calling me five times a day, every day, to ask if everything was OK. thankfully, it was OK — better than OK in fact. i had a marvelous time drinking, eating and exchanging stories with my cousins, and even got to meet my uncle for the first time in 30 years, an experience that was nothing short of life-affirming.

Maryland is beautiful in the fall, very New England-esque in the way the leaves change color to form clusters of trees that look like rainbows shooting out of the ground. it was a mesmerizing sight, one that had me uttering, “look how beautiful it is” every time i stepped outside, enough times for my cousins to say, “yes, we know how beautiful you think it is. we get it!” i, for one, do not get it enough. the plan is to return to Maryland more often and mostly in the fall. i simply must see more of that foliage.

Monday, October 26, 2009

One-Hit Wonders: October 2009

  • milla likes pilla

  • morphine lactating pigeon

  • consequence of fucking a dog

  • i have a barking cough and my ears keep popping

  • big tits refrigerator kitchen

  • is as happy as a retard in a crayon factory. what does this mean

  • janis joplin garden gnomes

  • what do milla bugs eat

  • my dog broke out with hives after i bought a bamboo plant home

  • san andreas to cause california to detach

  • celebrities that have child toucher eyes

Monday, October 12, 2009

Roadtrip: San Francisco

The City
let me count the ways: San Francisco still manages to charm me each time i visit, filling me with fantasies about moving back and flooding me with memories of the life i led there more than 10 years ago. i’m sure i romanticize that time as some beautiful coming-of-age era when, in fact, a lot of it sucked (i was very broke), but the magical energy of the city is something i feel only when i’m there, each time i visit. it’s a feeling of optimism and youthful idealism. it’s a feeling of possibility.

JD, Me (and Mo)
another reason to visit: my best friend of 20 years, Jon-David, and his boyfriend Cesar just relocated to SF from NYC, which means my frequent trips east will now be redirected north. as usual, we had a fantastic time eating, drinking, talking, laughing and blazing through a city together, with the promise to do it again very soon.

Nick and Child
and another: Mo and i had the opportunity to meet the newest member of our friends’ child army, 8-week-old Rhys, seen here with dad Nick, who smuggled him into a bar for his first taste of bourbon.

Mother and Child
mom and her Rhys-ling: mom is Alison, another SF resident and close friend i’ve known for 20 years, who refused to let me eat her child despite all my begging. instead, i smelled, squeezed and held him without once making him cry. then i threw his toy across the room for a game of fetch in a momentary brain misfire that made me realize how much i missed Juice and Pinko. (they stayed in LA with a neighbor.)

SF Federal Building
san francisco federal building: vacations with Mo the architect mean i can expect to see amazing architecture, this building among them, designed by LA-based firm Morphosis, which also designed the Caltrans building in LA (and another in Eugene, OR, which i’ll get to in a future post).

Federal Building Shutters

Rest Area

Federal Building Sky Deck
DMV hiring? this building makes a compelling case for getting a government job, particularly the sky decks that offer breathtaking views of the bay and a quiet place to get away. i have no doubt that these decks were included in the building’s design to prevent employees from “going postal.”

Dr. Merritt and His Pinky
Dr. Merritt and his pinky: this is Mo’s stepfather, Dr. Merritt, who is a retired doctor and an enthusiastic cook who loves hosting dinner parties. we visited him in Oakland with a gaggle of our friends — who served as dish washers, kitchen runners and table setters — while Dr. Merritt manned the grill.

Cook’s Kitchen
kitchen envy: maybe “enthusiastic” is too weak an adjective to describe his cooking prowess. Dr. Merritt really has every kitchen gadget ever created, in addition to endless appliances, utensils, spices and drool-inducing Le Creuset cookware. like every other guest at dinner that night, i must have spent an hour looking through his kitchen, garage and dining area, all of which were overflowing with good stuff.

Dr. Merritt Starting Paella
meanwhile: Dr. Merritt was outside with the biggest paella pan known to humankind, which he placed over his grill, to cook us the best meal of our lives.

Someone’s Excited
then he jumped in and was never seen again: the paella — there are no words. it was beyond the best i’ve ever had, better even than paellas i’ve had in Spain, and full of chicken, three types of sausage and shellfish that included lobster and crab. my only regret is that i’m not still sitting at his table eating it right now.

Book and Beer
more eating: the next day, we headed to the Hog Island Oyster Company at the Ferry Building for happy hour oyster and beer specials. the place was packed with both locals and tourists. it took ages to get a table, but the oysters, oh the oysters. again, words fail me as the taste buds take over and cloud my brain.

Oyster Closeup
divine slime: there’s no in-between with raw oysters — you either love or hate them. though i don’t understand how anyone can hate the heavenly flavor of a raw oyster sitting on ice and splashed with tabasco and lemon, chased with a sip of beer. it simply doesn’t make sense.

Four Dozen Oysters
now i understand: these (four dozen) oysters came from Waterbar, a restaurant i urge everyone NOT to visit. Hog Island’s oysters were fantastic, but Waterbar’s poisoned Mo and i, rendering us incapacitated for 30 hours. here, “incapacitated” is no exaggeration: we spent an entire day on the living room sofabed, sleeping nonstop in a fever-induced delirium, making frequent runs to the bathroom for vomiting, shivering and sweating, joints aching and body drained. sadly, this happened on the same day we were supposed to leave San Francisco for Russian River with JD and Cesar (who did not get sick), a day that happened to be JD’s birthday. not only was it the worst day of the roadtrip, it was also — and i say this with no exaggeration — one of the worst days of my life. i have never felt that way before. and i have not eaten a raw oyster since.

Golden Gate Bridge
the morning after: i can’t say the sick was completely gone the next morning, but Mo and i woke up mostly clear-headed and very ready to continue our trip north. with a slow start, we repacked our suitcases, said our goodbyes to San Francisco and hopped on the pacific coast highway, stomachs still unstable, toward Tomales Bay, Russian River, Eureka and the Oregon border.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Roadtrip: LA to SF

Road and San Andreas
the open road: after taking this roadtrip, i really understand why California is known as the Golden State. i used to think the name had more to do with the Gold Rush of 1849 than the scenery, but the central valley proved me wrong. these golden rolling hills in the Carrizo Plain seemed to go on for hundreds of miles, which Mo and i spent hours driving through, a time when we rarely saw other cars, people or animals. it was a wasteland of a desert, very Mad Max, 115 degrees with no trees or shade in sight, but it contained the first destination of our 3,150-mile roadtrip up the west coast: the San Andreas fault.

Me and Sandy
is that all there is? as we drove to the fault, Mo and i discussed what we thought we would find there, based on all the mythology we grew up with as native Californians. we settled on the fault looking like the place where the world would end. we figured it would swallow us immediately upon arrival and take us to the earth’s molten core, where the devil surely lives and presides over hell. imagine our surprise when we saw that it was full of tumbleweeds.

Me and the San Andreas
me and Sandy: i always thought of the San Andreas as being something LA-based, something out in the deserted desert, and was surprised to learn that the faultline is really 800 miles long, stretching the length of California and ending near San Francisco. parts of the fault are plainly visible, almost flat, while others are underwater. from the “flat” part above, we walked a little farther and found a gorge where we stood for a long while, awestruck. it looked incredible, beautiful even like every other product of nature. i thought back to the ’94 Northridge quake, which wrecked my childhood home and gave me nightmares, and here i was, standing in the presence of the mighty San Andreas, cause of so much anguish for so many Californians, and all i wanted to do was hug it. finally, closure had come. i had met my attacker and forgiven her. i named her Sandy.

A Day in the Life in Santa Cruz
go west: after saying goodbye to Sandy, we headed west toward Santa Cruz, where we spent the night. this was my first visit to Santa Cruz, which reminded me of every other coastal college town i’ve visited in California — full of surfers, stoners, students and beach bums living the good life.

At the Beach
the good life: when we left LA the day before, wildfires were burning and making the air quality horrendous, so the first thing we did in Santa Cruz was head to the beach to suck in the fresh ocean air and become hypnotized by the tide. that was the moment it hit me: i’m on vacation for two weeks. fuck yeah.

Mo @ Arboretum Sign
from faults to flowers: then came a trip to the arboretum on the UC Santa Cruz campus. as Mo and i are still (forever?) in the planning stages of the perfect garden that we will one day plant at home, the arboretum exposed us to all sorts of purty flowers and trees we can’t afford to import from South Africa.

Garden Gnome
the garden gnome: i became enamored with this gnome, only because i don’t recall ever seeing another gnome like it. is it a chicken or some other bird? i still can’t figure it out. i named it Cruzy.

dig my camera: allow me to plug my camera for a moment, the amazing Canon PowerShot G10, which enabled me to explore macrophotography for the first time in my camera-owning life. i spent the whole roadtrip with the camera hanging off my neck, fondling it at every opportunity. this thing cannot take a bad photo.

Gecko Giving the Evil Eye
lizzy: i didn’t name this guy, though judging by the stink eye he’s giving off, he probably gave me a not-so-pleasant name. i was tempted to step on his tail to see if it would detach itself like they say, only to grow back later, but Mo wouldn’t let me.

Greenhouse @ the Arboretum
why is the sky blue? seriously, that is the bluest sky i’ve ever seen. along with the gnome mystery, the arboretum had successfully stumped me and rendered me so hopelessly relaxed that i considered moving into the gift shop to live, as i couldn’t imagine rejoining society when there were so many flowers to look at. but Mo pulled me away with the promise of more gardens, so we bid farewell to Santa Cruz and headed north toward Saratoga.

Gorgeous Garden Wide
serenity now: we ended up at Hakone Gardens, which was the Japanese hotness. i’m going to make a sweeping generalization here, so consider yourselves warned, but everything creative i’ve ever seen come out of Japan has an elegance to it that is nothing short of perfect. this includes sushi, but excludes that harajuku fashion craze that was big a few years back, which looks very salvation army to me.

Garden Waterfall
i’ll take one on layaway: my mythical garden will definitely have a waterfall as well as several money trees. it will also have a few cabana boys with soccer thighs ready to peel me grapes at a moment’s notice.

Garden Buddha
now this is a garden gnome: add this to my layaway list, too — a buddha holding a samurai sword is what i want protecting my mythical garden. i named him Harakiri.

Leaning Bamboo
the bamboo garden: so this is where the flooring in my house came from. what a treat to see it in its natural form, minus dog scratches. i would plant some bamboo in my mythical garden if it wasn’t so weedlike in its unruliness.

Always a Bridesmaid
always a bridesmaid: we stumbled upon a wedding shoot in the bamboo garden so i started shooting away with the other photographers, emboldened by my magical G10. i don’t think the other photogs noticed me, nor did the bridesmaid, who seemed to be having a sad moment. thinking they might serve sushi, i told Mo we should crash the wedding, but he had one more garden on the day’s agenda so off we went to Stanford University.

Stanford Garden
go Trojans! after much walking around the campus, lost, we found the Kingscote Garden tucked into a corner of the university. it was a multitiered masterpiece, by far the smallest garden we visited that day, but that made it the most stunning. one look and i was transported to my happy place. admittedly, i had spent most of the day in a happy place but this took me straight to nirvana.

Moment of Zen
nap time: the garden seemed to have its own eco-system, with its tall trees producing a wonderful breeze i don’t remember feeling elsewhere on campus. it provided the perfect backdrop for a quick nap and protracted moment of zen before Mo and i hit the road again and headed north toward San Francisco.

Next installment — SF to Oregon border — to be posted soon. Slideshow of the full set of LA to SF photos below: