Wednesday, October 29

364 days.

Tuesday, October 28

In other news...

Tomorrow is the ol' birthday. Yep. 29 years old i'll be. And easing in to the 30th. It's a strange feeling, really, realizing that you are aging. For the first twenty-odd years of your life, you hardly think about it, you know? At least i didn't. Then came 28, and it finally began to sink in. And now, twenty-nine, and believe me it's on my mind.

I think i'll make myself some banana pancakes tomorrow morning to celebrate. And maybe carve jack-'o-lanterns in the evening, because really, isn't it time? Halloween is nearly upon us. One can never be too careful.

Maybe something really exciting will happen tomorrow that i can write about- wouldn't that be a change! Har, har.

Off to watch some Jeopardy now. i used to think it was a way to learn things, but then last week i found out that Benjamin Franklin electrocuted an elephant to illustrate the dangers of alternating current, and it just made me sad. Why don't they teach us that reality in school? Ugh, it really bothers me. Then you just find out later and it's like- oh....... ouch.

Next time: Shameless plugging of my mom's art and items for sale. Hey, come on- it's almost the holidays! i've gotta get her name out there. Hm, perhaps i shouldn't have warned you all first... oops.

An Open Letter to a Fixer-upper.

Um, yeah...

Hugo? Next time you come over (after literally 6 months of having the money/supplies) to fix the sink, do me a solid and don't use my wooden salad bowl to collect the dirty water drippings? Thanks. It's just that it's one of the only things i have left from childhood, when we were an actual family and sometimes my mom made salad. I know it's flimsy, and has a chip on the edge, but seriously. Could you not have rummaged just a little more through my cupboards and discovered, say, a set of 3 crappy glass mixing bowls that you could have had your pick from? Seems not.

Well, next time anyway.

In all seriousness, though- thanks for the new sink! i am so glad i don't have to hold down the tap when i turn it on so it doesn't just pop straight up out of the back. i never realized how easy doing the dishes could be... it's miraculous. And as for the grout all over my (only, as it turns out) dishtowel- no worries. We'll just let bygones be bygones*.

*minute 9:40 on.

Friday, October 24


So i just got a card in the mail from my dentist.

Thought maybe it was a second reminder that i need my 6-month cleaning/check done, and it rankled me because dammit, i'll make the appointment when i'm ready, vile fiends! Plus, i can't stand wasting paper. Just call me next time.

But then i opened the card, and guess what? It's a birthday card.

Well, thanks guys and gals! i guess it's a little extra service they provide, and you know what? i actually think it's kinda sweet. Part of me stiffens at the possible insincerity of it all, but then i have to remind myself not to be so suspicious and negative all the time.

Basically, this is the first birthday where i've started to feel old. The big 2-9. Or, as a school chum of Nat's said recently upon celebrating her own, "Thirty minus one."
From what i've heard, this is a common age to begin feeling this way. It's so cliche, but seriously: i'm almost thirty, and what have i done with my life? Not a whole hell of a lot. Time to start rockin' the world. Live life to the fullest, as they say.

And you know what? i think i'll start by making a dentist appointment. Ah, yeah. That's the stuff.

Dream. World.

Had some crazy, involved dream about Madame Tussaud's last night.

I was participating in a treasure hunt with Nat and Addie (the BF and the BFF, respectively), and it was late at night. They had discovered some old dusty photograph, showing an old woman wearing a lovely violet dress and standing in the front yard of a towering Victorian house. The sky in the photo was grey, the kind where no-nonsense dark grey is creeping in to the light areas, and you know it's about to rain. The house itself was all lavender and purple and grey and brown tones, and everything matched. The freaky part was the woman's facial expression/smile- it was huge, almost exaggerated, and dare i say nearing the gruesomeness of Richard D. James' startling album cover for his Aphex Twin album I Care Because You Do. Her hair was all '30s style; silvery grey and waved close to her head.

Anyway, i cried out excitedly, "That's Madame Tussaud!" and Nat and Addie both looked at me, blankly shaking their heads. "You know, with the life-like figures... the wax figures?" i continued hesitantly. Addie sort of started to get it, and we hurried off down a dark alleyway in search of our next lead.

I think i had this dream because of two things: 1, Nat found a paycheck from school in his backpack that was dated all the way back in June (i know- wow). It was for $1500, and i thought it would be fun to surprise him by buying us tickets to the S.F. Treasure Hunt in February. This event always neatly coincides with the huge Chinese New Year's Festival, and even though it costs $30-$40 to get in, the money is for charity. The last time we did it it was for a homeless shelter. This year it is for a circus school and a cultural center! Woo-hoo. Blah blah blah, i ruined the surprise by asking him first. Of course he basically said no, because February is not a convenient time for him to be missing school or running off for the weekend. Bummer. i think i am more sad about it than i initially realized :/

Secondly, while April and i were driving home from the Bay Area on Monday, we took the wrong (well, a more inconvenient one, anyway) freeway for awhile and guess where we ended up? San Jose, the home of the Winchester Mystery House!! i could barely contain my excitement. Ever since i was little, i've always wanted to go to that place, but for some reason my family never made the trip, and none of my friends in high school were willing to drive 2 hours to visit the eccentric home of an eccentric (read: crazy) woman. Frustrating! Anywho, we actually drove right by the house itself, and i've gotta say- even from the outside, it's quite a sight to behold.

Someday i will get in. i will.

So all of this subconscious detritus contributed to my dream last night, i guess. In any case, it was a very exciting thing to wake up from; my heart was racing. It's almost like living vicariously.

In other news: starting to really enjoy Dengue Fever. Never thought i could be into this music, but i find myself waking up with the songs already in my head. i am a slave to it!! Help me.

In other, other news: time to fill out the old absentee ballot. In addition to the huge importance of electing the next president of the united states, there are a number of very worthy propositions on this ballot as well. At the risk of alienating people (ha ha, i flatter myself that anyone actually reads this!), i will tell you that i am absolutely positively voting no on Prop 8 (because gay people getting married is so obviously nothing but a boon for our society), and a resounding Yes on Prop 2 (because all animals should be able to perform basic movements, assholes). Also, for once, there is a measure to give more psych treatment/drug counseling to nonviolent offenders, thereby keeping them out of jail! Wow, are we finally evolving?! I am amazed. Yes, yes, yes. Oh yeah, and i've got to fill in that little bubble next to McCain's name, of course.

Um, just in case that got lost on any of you: i jest. Barack all the way. i love herbal-tea-drinking elitists! i can so totally relate; i have chamomile and rosehips in my cupboard. Ah, the intellectual life!

Tuesday, October 21

Andrew Bird.

Holy moly, what a weekend.

Especially for me, someone who rarely does anything one could consider "exciting" or "inspiring". A friend of mine from the flower shop where i work was running the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco on Sunday, and since she knows how much i miss home (the Bay Area in general), she asked if i wanted to drive up. My response? "Hell yes!"
We left around noon on Friday, with two boys in tow. One was heading home up to Portland, and the other was going to run in the race with her. But wait, wasn't it a women's marathon? you're thinking- and yes, it was. But this is Pablo we're talking about. This is Pablo who flirts with boys and wears mismatched socks in pastel hues on purpose, and who has a tiny (also pastel) bike with green plastic pedals.
On the drive up (we took the 5 for time even though the 1 would have been a sight-seeing spectacular) not too much happened: we saw a bunch of hay and carrots on the road that a truck had spilled, and came this[ ]close to being involved in an awful collision. I had to listen to the Killers and the Offspring, which was rough, but hey- i'm an adapter. It was hot and windy the whole way.
Got to my good friend Addie's house once we reached Oakland, where they dropped me off. She took me out to dinner (well, breakfast: i had french toast and hash browns!), where i bought a homeless guy a Turkey Reuben. He told me whatever sandwich i ordered would be great, and since i've never (and probably will never) order a Turkey Reuben, that's what he got. It's funny, because i would never shell out $9 to someone spare changing on the street, but when someone asks me for food, there's just no question. We all gotta eat.
Saturday was alright; Addie and i rode our bikes all around Berkeley and did some clothes shopping (something i absolutely detest, but for some reason i have good luck when she's around). I finally replaced my black hoodie that was full of holes; actually threw it away in the bathroom of the Italian restaurant we ate at later that evening, where we drank miniature bottles of sparkling wine. Good times!
Then we visited our old workplace (the flower shop, where we first met years ago) and had an awkward visit with the old boss. Got some beautiful flowers, and quickly biked our way home through the chilly streets. Drank a vodka cran each just for kicks, and watched Adventures in Babysitting on YouTube. Ah, good times indeed ;) Did you know that Vincent D'Onofrio was in that movie? I'm tellin' ya.
Sunday we were up early, left the apartment by nine, and headed to the city (this is East Bay speak for "San Francisco"). The BART train was filled with nervous, quiet, staring people, so we decided to play the alphabet game. i picked vegetables as a category, which we turned into "Things you can buy at a greengrocer" just for ease of playing, and started things off with Asparagus. Addie countered with Beets. This continued:
Heather: "Chard."
Addie: "What am i on, D? Hmm. Dates."
Random Guy Sitting in Front of Us: "::turning slightly:: Fennel."
Heather: "::surprised:: Thanks, but i'm on "E"! Fennel's an awesome choice for F, though, thank you!" (We ended up using it, of course).
So it went on, and on, until we got to the letter U. For some reason this stumped us. i hinted and honted* as much as i possibly could, but the dude in front of us wouldn't offer any more help. Or maybe he just couldn't think of anything, same as us.

We got off the train at Civic Center, just made the bus up Haight Street (whew!), and got off at the entrance to Golden Gate Park. The finish line for April's race was clear on the other side, right where the land ends and the Pacific Ocean begins, but we were going to get a cup of coffee and zoom on through the park. Turns out our favorite coffee spot was swallowed up in a Bermuda Triangle of sorts, so we got some so-so cups of joe and then realized we were running out of time. A harried cab ride later, we arrive at the beach and see scores and scores of runners, wrapped in tinfoil (i later learned that these help keep your body heat in, as it was easily in the low 50's that day) and boarding shuttle buses back to their various hotels. i was so upset; thought we'd missed her. But we pushed through the thousands of runners and spectators, made our way to the finish line, scanning for April the whole way. (This is a bit like if you took a "Where's Waldo?" book, removed him from all of the pages but one, and then ripped that page clean out of the book and threw it away.) She was nowhere to be seen, nor was Pablo. Add to that the fact that Pavel was still sitting at the starting line, thinking he was in the right place to see her finish before he got on a bus to Oregon, and he was upset. It seemed like all was lost.
We sat around for 40 minutes or so, but knew we would never find her. Addie and i boarded a bus back downtown, then decided to eat somewhere in North Beach. We walked around for half an hour there, looking at menus and then rejecting them as either too expensive or not enough non-meat options for yours truly... finally we found a place and guess what? We were the absolute only two people there. It was awesome :) Plants hanging in every window, an old metal chandelier hanging form the rafters, garlic bulbs hanging on every post, a tortoiseshell cat playing in the yard outside. We had such a good time, and a handsome waiter with a dead tooth who made us some pretty strong drinks.
Ambling tipsily back to BART, we smoked way too many cigarettes, stopped to give a street juggler some assorted Halloween candy that i'd picked up a bag of, and somehow managed to get home across the Bay.

Ready for the best part? i know, i know- you've been reading so faithfully, sitting through these long boring monologues, and i thank you for your patience. But really none of this compares with what happened on Sunday.

April picked me up at eleven, i said my goodbyes to Addie, strapped my bike back on the bike rack, and April and i headed off south. We were going to try and reach L.A. by eight o'clock to see a sold-out show by one of my favorite musicians, Andrew Bird. He means a lot to me, and never ever plays West Coast venues, so it was sort of a necessary sojourn. April had listened to a few of his tunes on my iPod and decided she liked, so we were determined to try and get in. We had a lovely drive down, stopping at a slightly eerie but peaceful reservoir, and driving through some cute cute cute countryside. Smell of onions in the air, then alfalfa, with cows, sheep, silos fruit stands, etc. Me likey.

Got to L.A. tired but hopeful, found the place, parked quite easily, and stepped out onto that sidewalk like we were going to conquer the world.


It turns out that The Largo was closed. Just.... gone. We walked up to an empty storefront: boarded over with plywood, fabric hanging in tatters, a "Change of Ownership" sign in the dirty window.

No.......way. How could this possibly be happening? It was the worst feeling ever, even though we knew that we probably never would have got in to the show anyhow. A duck in to the comic book store next door, and the boy behind the counter gave us easy directions to the new Largo spot, only a mile away! We were thrilled. Bounded back to the car, and found the second place. Saw a whole bunch of people milling about outside, hoping (as we were) to get tickets. It was pretty disheartening, after such a long day. We sat out front so i could have a smoke, and regroup. As we're sitting there, checking out the Hollywood fashionistas, someone crossing the street towards us catches my eye.

It is none other than the man himself, Andrew Bird.

I freaked out. Pretty much just lost it. "Omigodomigodomigodomigodomigod" is all that came out of my mouth. i caught his eye for a split second, then stared at the gum on the sidewalk until April relaxed her grip on my arm and said "it's ok- he's gone." It was such a major, exciting moment for me, as cheesy as that sounds. i was so happy. So, so happy :) i was ready to leave, satisfied and elated, but April suggested that we walk around the block, just to draw out the experience as long as we could. In the alley behind the place, we discovered that there was a back door with such amazing sound, it was as if you were sitting in the front row. We decided then and there that we would hang out in the alley and listen to his set. i was so happy, again, and grateful to her for being such a game girl. We hunkered down with a bag of Sun Chips and waited for the opening act to be over.

Meanwhile, employees had been going in and out of various mysterious back doors, giving us sidelong glances from time to time. Finally, Andrew Bird came on and they all disappeared indoors. We heard whistling, some pizzicato violin and some lovely bowing, and then some murmuring to the audience, which was followed by laughter. It was hard not to be in there, but we were having a great time outside nonetheless. I began to write him a note that i was going to slip under the door, when a guy in a white T-shirt came down the back stairs and asked us what we were doing. "Just... listening" i said lamely. "We just drove down here from San Francisco hoping to get in but it was sold out!" April offered. He gave us an "aaallright, you're okay. No worries." and left. Thank goodness! i thought he was there to give us the boot. Which he probably was, but had mercy instead.

Fast forward to two minutes later, and someone else comes around the corner and says, "Come on. i've got seats for you."


This was really happening.

"Leave your drinks, let's go." We obediently chucked our water bottles near the recycling bins and hurried after his disappearing shadow.

This wonderful man (no doubt tipped off by the first, also wonderful man) led us into the theater after the second song, and gave us two back seats.

I was staring at Andrew Bird onstage, who was busy shyly talking to the audience about how he was going to play some new songs, and was that okay? We responded accordingly.

Needless to say, it was a great night. One of the greatest of my life, in all honesty. Everything just fell into place. Andrew Bird truly was an amazing performer, as i'd heard, and as humble as could be. April enjoyed herself immensely, and we sat through probably 6 or 7 songs, then 2 encore songs, which were crazy good. A standing ovation later, i finished writing my note, with the update that we had been let in, and thanked him profusely for a lovely show. Walked up to the stage to throw the piece of paper near his guitar, when the guy who let us in comes over and jokes, "stop trying to steal Andrew's stuff!" i explained that i was only trying to leave him a note, and so he took it from me and put it right on top of the guitar. "He can't miss it" he assured me with a big grin. He introduced himself as Michael, and April and i fairly fell all over ourselves thanking him. He was so happy, i think, to be able to help, and could tell that we really truly deserved to be in there. He told us that Andrew was outside, in the mezzanine, saying hi to people. So April walked me over there (my legs were just about completely numb), and i stumbled towards him, shook his hand, and told him he was amazing. i thanked him for being him, and he smiled confusedly at me.


Success. For serious. It all actually finally happened. What an amazing night.

we walked back to the car on cloud nine, drove the last hour and a half home to San Diego (ha ha- i just called it "home", ugh), and got to bed around three a.m.

Went to work today, same as always.

Ain't life grand?
*typo left in for the sake of hilarity.

Friday, October 3


a lemonade stand with my best friend Molly, in front of the grocery store around the corner from her house when we were 8 or 9. her mom was a progressive sort of woman (to put it lightly), so we did 99% of the work by ourselves. it was nice to learn how to problem-solve. we also sold homemade chocolate chip cookies to increase sales (plus the fun of baking), and when we got "too old" we even wrote the e's in "lemonade" backwards, to garner sympathy. i'm not sure, but i think this was my idea. at least, i remember being the one to write it out. it does seem strange that i would have thought of that. once a police officer came by and told us we needed a permit. i think that was the beginning of the end. we used to take our profits ten feet away to the Mexican restaurant and eat cheese enchiladas with red sauce. i remember the clear plastic tumblers of ice water were always sweating heavily onto the lacquered table. it was quiet, usually there was no one else around. fans lazily spinning above us. we always sat in the same window booth, and i would use tortilla chips to clean my plate of sauce, rice and beans, when i was done with the enchiladas. i think Molly thought that was weird. but i was always told to clean my plate.

Sunday mornings in apartment #5 (the first [& longest] place i ever lived), on a quiet street in Berkeley, California. my dad is blasting opera music from his bedroom. he has an awesome sound system. the dog (an akita) is lying in a patch of late morning sun on the cheap brown carpet. dust motes stir and settle, stir and settle, endlessly around her. beyond, in the kitchen, i can smell breakfast potatoes frying. rosemary, butter, pepper. that means there will be eggs, sunny-side up. and silver dollar pancakes if we are lucky. my parents will drink delicious-smelling coffee and mostly ignore each other. my dad will be jolly and smiling because of the opera and the sunday breakfast. sometimes, a lot of the time, he sings along. maybe my mom is sewing, or more likely she is on the small back deck watering the potted plants. my older sister is in our bedroom, plotting ways to get out of the house today. my little brother and i are probably playing a game, involving either action figures, a homemade fort, or the Nintendo. i can hear kids playing outside in the courtyard, and see the leaves rustling gently on the trees outside the obscured glass of our window. i can feel the wind in the trees, and smell the sap, and feel the tiny heartbeats of the birds who nest there and are flying away now, into the great cloudy-blue sky and the endless possibilities of the great wide world.

when i was one or so, and learning how to walk, i burned my left hand rather badly on our wall heater. the weird thing is that i actually remember it all: struggling out into the living room, wanting to show my mom how proud i was of myself: i'm walking! inching my way towards the kitchen. i could hear my mom's voice, so i was getting close. maybe i uttered a yip of happiness at that point, who knows anymore, but my mom came around the corner and saw me. i grinned hugely and ramped up my efforts, but her eyes got big and scared. "no!!" she rushed towards me in slow motion. my smile was instantly gone in the confusion. what's wrong? and then something, somewhere, began to register. my mom reached me, then, and pulled me away from the wall as fast as she could, grabbing my arm. i had stopped along my epic journey, and rested my chubby little hand square on the wall heater, which of course was hot hot hot. there was a charred pattern of stripes going across my palm and fingers in a horizontal fashion. i began to bawl. it was awful. my mom was visibly and audibly upset. in the healing process over the next days and weeks, i would suck and suck on my hand to get it to stop hurting, so my mom had to put a sock over my hand and tape it there. but apparently i would suck on the sock until it was cool and sopping wet, same difference. ah, childhood!

a Slip 'N Slide in somebody's backyard. a small dog yipping around us in the excitement. green, green grass, dark and bright, crushed beneath our heels. small rocks would lie silently under the yellow plastic, waiting to be found by our arms or torsos. a sprinkler waves back and forth forever, somebody's mom yells for us to turn the water off. puddles are forming, and light mud. it is sunny, but still not hot enough to warrant us being out in our bathing suits. goosebumps and threadbare towels in plastic chairs, we talk about the funniest slips, and then we run inside to drink milk and eat peanut butter sandwiches.

at my elementary school, we had a whole wall of honeysuckle on the southern end of the schoolyard's long fence. the particular bitter sweetness of the blossoms' nectar on my tongue had a power to stop time. sometimes i felt like recess was hours long. i would lie on the grass and make daisy chains from the tiny white and pink flowers there, a crown fit for a benevolent fairy queen. after a rain, the worms would come wriggling out from the dirt. the boys would stomp and kill them, so i would cut them in half at that special spot, and pray for two to form and reset the balance. there were licorice plants bordering a smaller edge of fence, that at certain times of the year would be studded with what looked like big gobs of foamy spit. our recess counselor showed us that if you looked closely enough, you could see the caterpillars inside. they were going to be monarchs. later we would see the big butterflies over our heads, but it was always hard to make the connection. now whenever i smell a licorice plant, i see a big orange-and-black beauty fluttering in my mind. when was the connection finally formed?