Monday, November 28, 2011

A Light Is Waiting To Carry You Home, Everywhere You Look

I just got back from Washington DC this week. We spent the Thanksgiving holiday there thanks to Carey and Niles, Joe's sister and brother-in-law. They moved to DC about 2 years ago. Neither of us had been there since our respective 8th Grade field trips. I'd like to say I remember a lot from that trip...and I do remember some things. I remember seeing the Lincoln Memorial at night, I remember being disappointed by how far away the White House was from the gate. I remember seeing the original ruby slippers at the Smithsonian. But I also remember listening to Backstreet Boys on my discman while pining for Kevin W, the boy I liked who wasn't on the trip. And I remember Emily H and I spending all our parent's money on Beanie Babies, which we named after our 8th grade science teacher. MONEY WELL SPENT.

So this time around was really interesting, having personal tour guides in Carey and Niles, and without all the pining because the boy I liked was sitting right next to me (Sigh, being an adult is awesome sometimes.) One of the biggest highlights of the trip was going into the White House. OH YES WE DID.

QUESTION AND ANSWER TIME!

Question: Did you meet the President?
Answer: No. Despite all my dreams of shaking his hand and making him laugh with an uproarious joke I would make up on the fly, I did not see him. I guess he was there somewhere, though, because it was the day he pardoned the turkey.

Question: Well did you at least meet anyone famous and/or important?
Answer: DID WE EVER! We met Bo!

Question: ...Jackson?
Answer: No.

Question: ...Do you mean Boo, the poofy pomeranian?
Answer: No.

Question: Wait, who's Bo?
Answer: Bo! Bo! The President's dog, Bo! The First Woof! Bo!

Question: Ohhhhhh.
Answer. Yeah.

Question: Go on.
Answer: Well, right when we got inside the East Wing, about 4 amiable security guards pulled our group aside and wouldn't tell us why. Of course we're all racking our brains for what in our murky pasts has caused the hold up, while some guy walks around with a device that tests the amount of radiation coming off you (weird). Finally they took some old lady away. I wanted it to be a whole thing where it turns out she's got a criminal record, but I guess it was just because she had a pacemaker. BUT! While we were being detained, in strolled Bo and his dog walker! Carey nearly fainted. He bounded up the stairs and out of sight, and we weren't allowed to take photos in the White House, so there is no proof. But I swear it happened.

Question: What else did you see in the White House?
Answer: You don't really get to see too much of the place. Definitely none of the private residence of course, none of the West Wing or the Oval Office or any kinds of offices. You really just see the rooms where they host guests. You can peek your head into the China room (dishes, not the country) and walk up to the red, green, and blue room. And you see the East Room, which is the biggest room in the White House, and which looks down the hall that the President walks when he makes big announcements.



Question: That's pretty cool.
Answer: I know, right?

OVERALL THOUGHTS ABOUT THE CITY OF WASHINGTON DC

1. No building can be taller than the Washington Monument, so the tallest "skyscrapers" are only about 12 stories. But since they still need the space, companies just build out. Meaning DC is filled with these stone and brick buildings that take up the entire city block. It all makes the city look so...so...sturdy.

2. The city has all these rules you would never know unless someone told you. For example, the statue on top of the Capitol Building represents freedom, and she faces east so the sun never sets on the face of freedom. That kind of thing. Why are lawmakers/historians/architects/artists so into this? I don't know. It makes for good tours, though.

3. DC has laws about never changing the colonial facade of buildings. But since you can do whatever you want behind the facade, these enormous buildings just use the front to look like colonial houses, and behind the entire row is just one giant, cement building.

HANGING OUT

We didn't really tour very much, at Joe's and my request. We spent the time doing more low-key, family things, like eating at fun restaurants, making Thanksgiving dinner (I contributed a few things including our candied yams which were all eaten ATHANKYOU), watching football games, drinking. Carey does a great job of decorating their apartment, and DC gets into Christmas pretty quickly, so it all felt very festive. And good god, the smells. THE SMELLS.

OH! And we also saw the Muppet movie. My non-spoiler thoughts: It was fun. I loved the callbacks to classic Muppets instead of current iterations. But they tried to pack in too much--too many story lines, which never gave any of them justice and made most of them fall flat. Also, Future Husband John Krasinski only made a fleeting appearance and I don't understand what would have been so wrong with giving him a leading role. BUT! The cameo by this guy was....*kisses fingertips* molto bene.

FINAL THOUGHT

This was my first time coming "home" to San Francisco. Which was a bit strange. It wasn't really coming home, it was more like coming back to my stuff. My pillow, my TV. And I guess my stuff is part of what makes a place feel like home. But I've come to learn that the saying is true: home is where the heart is. What's funny about that is, my heart is in a few places. I feel at home when I'm with the people I love. And those people are in a lot of places. So yes, San Francisco is home. And so is Chicago. And so is DC....and on and on.

I imagine home is a little bit of everywhere, as long as someone you love is there.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

When You're Lost Out There And You're All Alone

Happy Blogaversary, everyone!

Two years. Two Ron F*ing Swanson Years. Can you believe it? I can.......'t! And since it's tradition (ie, I did it last year) I am going to give you A Story In Pictures: Year Two.

A lot has gone on this year in my life. Considering where I started. About a month after I wrote the LAST blogaversary post, I found out our account was up for review and I might lose my job. So, just to give you some context, THAT has been in my life this entire blog year. Let's see where we've gone, yes?

First, on New Year's, Joe and I went to a small town, where disaster ensued, and we all had a good laugh.



Joe and I took a short vacation to LA, and I finally saw California. We were amazed at how different it feels when there's no winter.



Later, we put our stuff in storage so Joe could test out a contract-to-hire job in San Francisco. I moved to a studio on the north side of Chicago.



I started taking improv classes. I met some amazing people and had a blast, but my first time in a real scene...did NOT go well.



As predicted, I was laid off in late summer. I MAY have been there to open the bar that day.



Turns out, being unemployed while living next to the beach was pretty awesome for a little while.



But eventually things started going south after reality came back. I decided to move to San Francisco, and job hunting became overwhelming.



I got on a plane with Regina, who was not so happy to be caged and staged a coup. Twice.


Finally, I made it. When our stuff arrived, Joe and I ushered it in with the pomp and circumstance appropriate for such an occasion.



And that, my friends, has been the blog year! A lot of frustration and loneliness, and one really major change that I think will lead to bunch more minor (good) changes. Thanks, everyone, for following along as I tumble through this thing. Who knows what the next blog year will bring?!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

There's A Face Of Somebody Who Needs You

Alternate Title: Save Community, Save The World.


(From Vulture)

If you love inside jokes and hope to be a part of one someday, you need to be watching Community.

Recently, it was announced that Community would not be part of NBC's spring lineup. It isn't cancelled, it's just on hiatus I guess. I am in freak-out mode over it, even though NBC probably did it to get some buzz going for a show that isn't getting the ratings it deserves. But I'm involved regardless. Involved in the same way a grad student and professor are involved. I am neck-deep, cutting my own hair and doing an interpretive dance to show my love involved. Please, NBC! Don't take my show! My precious, precious show! It's still in the early, lovely, beautiful phase (aka 3rd season) where nothing is overdone, characters aren't played out, and Chandler hasn't started his weight fluctuations. Or was that another show?

Here's the first reason you may not watch the show: It started off MEH. And I'm with you. Community and Parks and Rec started at the same time, and my opinion of both shows was exactly the same: MEH. I could take them or leave them, and I had other shows to worry about. I GET IT. I get why you left. But you need to turn that boat around, people. Come watch this show.

Obviously I am back on the Parks and Rec train, but I was still skeptical of Community until Adrienne sat me directly in front of her television, Carl-on-LOST-style. That's when I saw it had risen to epic proportions. When it started, it was just a bunch of goofy characters who didn't mesh, and The Soup guy hitting on some blonde chick.

Now?



If you can't tell from that video, Community is superb at parody. They have done zombie movies, apocalyptic battle movies, documentaries, Christmas claymation, AND MORE!! They have these epic, absurd premises that somehow still work and feel down-to-earth. It's like they throw you into the possibilities of, say, Supernatural, but then bring it back to a group of people at a community college by the end of the half hour.

There are plenty of places you can read about Community for general overviews of characters and plot lines. But what I haven't seen is anyone talk about my theory on why the show isn't gaining more viewers:

It's filled with inside jokes. Which I love. And which might be slowly killing the show.

Sure, the main storylines live by themselves in each episode, so it is possible for you to miss one or go in random order and get the basic gist. But there are nuances that you might not catch unless you pay attention. Which means the best way to watch is from start to finish. Problem is, getting your hands on the whole series is hard (they need to get some Instant Netflix action up in here, up in here) and even if it wasn't, I don't think people know to bother with every episode anyway. That's how you miss the inside jokes, and why you might find the show confusing and too meta. And that is a TRAVESTY.

So until Community gets in on the Instant Netflix wagon, maybe it would help to have a place where people can find basic inside jokes. So I want to try--nothing seriously involved, just the basics so you could start watching. Problem is, I'm not sure I can make it all on my own, so I need some help from others who watch the show. I wanted to enlist Adrienne to help, since she is the biggest Community fan in existence, but I didn't give her enough time--bah! But anyone and everyone, please add more in the comments. Let's get Community to the viewership it deserves!

To start us off, here is my measly contribution:

Troy and Abed in the MOOOORNING:
Troy and Abed have the best friendship that has ever been. They are adorably childish in an non-naive way. They make epic forts, watch bad movies and make fun of them, and dress up as the main characters from Inspector Spacetime (ie the show's Dr. Who parody). Their biggest running gag is this:


You'll see hints of it all over. It is ALWAYS worth it.

SeƱor Chang:


He used to teach the group Spanish, but they've since moved on to other classes and Chang has lost his job yet somehow still worms his way onto the show constantly. He and Sherry once had sex and they all thought her baby might be his, but it turned out to be her re-married husband's.

Annie's Boobs:



The name of a monkey who now lives in the vents of Greendale.

Pierce Has Money


This isn't really an inside joke, but I've noticed it comes up often and I wanted to make sure you're with us. Pierce (aka Chevy Chase) inherited the money, and the moist towelette company that made it, from his father.

Side Characters:
The Human Being- When the Dean created a school mascot, he didn't want it to exclude any sex or race, and the monstrosity that came out of the project was the Human Being.


Starburns- He's a man with starburns. He sometimes wears a top hat and vest. He's lame.


Magnitude- Magnitude is the life of the party, but never says anything but "POP POP!"




And that's all I've got so far! Help me out, other Community Fans! And to those who don't watch? WATCH. Especially if you have one of those magic boxes that tells people that you're watching. That helps.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Everywhere You Look (Everywhere)

Joe and I finally made a video of the new apartment! It's as finished as we could make it right now, although it still needs a few homey touches, like curtains and a new comforter and rug.

We figured the best way for all parties to see it would be here on the blog--but please feel free to pass it over if you're not into an 8 minute tour of my closets. If you do watch it, you may notice Joe talking in the second person. That's for his parents. Everyone else should NOT, in fact, recognize our coffee table. In case you thought you might be forgetting something.

And to anyone who doesn't know me personally, welcome to my voice! And to Joe. And to my home, you snoopy weirdos. And to my awkward Sunday garb. Also, I was unaware of how often I sing to fill awkward pauses, but am WHOLLY unsurprised.

Without further ado, the apartment!

video

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Hand To Hold Onto

Or: "What I Remember From Indian Princesses."


When I was little, I was in something called Indian Princesses. It was a program put on through the YMCA to help build father/daughter relationships, and the glue that tied it together was a Native American theme.

I decided to write this post because I can't seem to find anything online about Indian Princesses, except a few remedial articles arguing the racial issues behind it. So I've written what I remember. Partly for posterity and partly so that people can tell me what the hell was going on. I was six, afterall.

QUICK OVERVIEW:

The program was something like this: fathers and daughters got together once a month in a small group. They were assigned a specific tribe name--ours was the Winnebago. There were also the Sioux, Cree, Blackfoot...you get the picture. Each tribe had their own costume. They were totally authentic...by which I mean they were not at all authentic. Our costume had jeans with bright red fringe running up the sides, a white turtleneck, and a rectangular red poncho. With more fringe.

The tribes gathered to discuss their lives, made simple crafts, that kind of thing. Then a few times a year, all the tribes would get together for a weekend retreat and do father/daughter activities together, all to varying degrees of Native American themes (which I'll get into later.)

A little history: Indian Princess actually started with Indian Guides, a father/son program formed in 1926. For your point of reference, the Indian Guides were featured in the 1995 JTT classic film, "Man of The House".

So to make sure we're all on the same page:
Father/son: Indian Guides.
Father/daughter: Indian Princesses.
Mother/daughter: Indian Maidens (which I learned about while researching.)

We won't get into the gender implications of these names, but suffice it to say...this was not a PC program. And I apologize for my liberal use of "Indian" over "Native American", but that was its name. Apparently the program is still running, but in a new form called "Adventure Guides" and "Adventure Princesses" and without the Native American themes. But this was how things were, as late as the 1990s when I was involved. In fact, according to the interwebs, the "Indian" theme didn't end until 2003. Was it racist? Absolutely. Did I know that? Absolutely not. Should our fathers have known better? Probably. But these were also men raised on Cowboys-and-Indians movies. Personally, I give them credit for going from shooting Native Americans to trying to honor them. I'm glad it's been changed, but I think of Indian Princesses like a Michael Scott lecture: good intentions...but somehow Tom Hanks ends up on the wall twice and everyone feels awkward.

So those are the straight facts about Indian Princesses, but it doesn't get at what this program was all about. So I'm here to give you Indian Princesses as I remember it...as a 6-year-old.

THE MEETINGS:

• Once a month, our tribe of about 8 pairs of fathers and daughters got together to...I don't remember. Talk? Draw? Eat cookies? What I'm saying is: I don't really remember what we did. I was just glad to have time with my dad and Katie. It made me feel grown up.

• We all had Native American names. I didn't like the pressure of coming up with one on my own, so I think Katie and my parents came up with it for me. My dad's name had to do with Horse, so Katie's and mine were Pony-related. Running Pony maybe? Something like that. I remember feeling like it wasn't quite the right fit for me, but was too shy to ask to change it.

• I do remember singing in a circle at the end of the meeting. We sang Taps--like the actual lyrics of Taps. We lifted our arms into the air and then back down when we sang it. It ended with the words "God is night" so I assumed it was a bedtime song. (Later, I learned the words were actually "God is nigh" and my mind was totally blown.)

• There were also sew-on badges. I think you earned them for going on retreats, unlike Boy and Girl Scouts, where you have to do stuff to earn them. So clearly this was way more awesome.


THE RETREATS:

As I explained, once (or twice?) a year, all the tribes traveled to a retreat center for added bonding and fun and friendly competition (which I even hated back then). I wish I could explain these retreats better as an adult, but all I have are my memories as seen through a small child. So here is what I've got:

• Like I said, our tribe was the Winnebago. Whenever all the tribes got together during the retreats, the other girls would make fun of the name. But they didn't mock "Winnebago" because of its associations to motor homes. No, they made fun of it because it sounded like "win a bagel." I was annoyed by their mocking. Not that I was embarrassed of the name, but I didn't think it really warranted the mockery. Sure, if our tribe name was Poop or Butt or Stupid, then you can make fun of us. But bagels are delicious. What's so wrong with sounding like one? Anyway, we got them back by saying that "Cree" sounded like "pee" so...game, set, match.

• There was one big night with games...like...games...okay clearly I don't remember what that was about. Was there a bouncy castle, or am I dreaming up memories now? Someone help me out with this.

• There was a bonfire one night where we'd do faux-Native American chants and songs. At one point, the designated "chief" for the weekend would wear a big chief headdress and call up to the spirits. He'd ask the spirits to send us a sign Then he'd secretly throw something into the fire to make sparks fly. I was in total awe of this, though a little confused about what it meant for my Sunday School lessons. I am now mildly horrified by the whole thing, especially after having gone to a college whose mascot, "Chief Illiniwek", was ousted my senior year. He was criticized for his inauthenticities, such as using chicken instead of eagle feathers in his headdress. I'm pretty sure the Indian Princess chief's feathers were made of polyester and dyed fluorescent blue.

• There was a Native American-looking doll called Puddin' Face...or Puddin' Cup...Puddin' Head? I think it was Puddin' Head. I assume it was also racist. But the doll was part of a game, where you sneak into other tribe's cabins and whoever ended up with her at the end of the retreat lost. The suspense of the Puddin' Doll gave me stomach ulcers. I was terrified of her.

• One retreat had an outdoor climbing wall. The guy in charge of the wall was TOTALLY old and mature. He was in college AND he had long hair. He was studying to be an engineer. I thought that sounded fun, but I wasn't sure why all the dads thought he had to be really good at science and math just to drive a train. True facts.

• Each tribe slept in one cabin, which meant all the dads got the bottom bunks and all the girls slept in the top bunks. This. Was. Awesome. Top bunks rule and they're really exciting. The poor dads never got the top bunks. I'm sure they were very disappointed by this.

• One retreat had a rickety old toboggan that was at least 3 stories high. It was terrifying.

• During dinner, when all the tribes were in one place, the daughters would BEG their fathers to bellow out into the cafeteria, "WHO'S THE BEST TRIBE IN THE NATIOOOOONNNN?!?!?!" And then all the daughters would yell--nay--SCREAM their own tribe name. This was another very historically accurate aspect of the retreat.

• One retreat had archery. I was terrible at archery. It hurt my fingers and the string was too hard to pull. This was NOT a father/daughter bonding experience. This was a father/daughter getting increasingly frustrated experience.

• On the very last day, there was some kind of prize giveaway. There was a table with all kinds of prizes at the front that the dads would buy or make, and the girls were called up to choose a prize. I have no idea how they decided the order. One of our dads made handmade puzzles once. And one time I think we spray-painted buckets and told everyone they were chairs. One year, I took too long deciding what I wanted, panicked, and picked a bedazzled mirror. I cried the whole ride home.

And that's all I've got. I'm worried none of this made sense to anyone, or was just really boring to people who were not in the program. But hopefully there are some ladies out there whose memories are jogged. Really what I want to get across was that, despite the stereotypes of Native Americans I had to unlearn later, I'm glad it was part of my childhood. I had fun. In a family of 6, it was a time that I got to spend with just my sister and my dad. And those are the kinds of memories you learn to cherish later, even if they come with horror-inducing dolls appearing in your cabin as if from nowhere.


So?! Comment please! Tell me there were other people in Princesses or Guides who have a better memory than I do and can fill in the gaps. Specifically: Puddin' Head, The Game Night, and the Prize Table. These are my great mysteries right now.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Everywhere You Look (Everywhere) There's A Heart (There's A Heart)

I don't really write about Joe. I mean, I do in a "Joe and I went to the store and I knocked down a display" kind of way. (Speaking of which, today at the grocery store I knocked over MY OWN cart. I can't even...I don't even...)

I don't know, maybe it's to keep you from throwing up. Maybe it's because being shmoopy about the ol' BF isn't usually what this blog is about. Maybe it's because this isn't a blog about relationships since I am likely the last person to give advice about boys. ("I don't know, did you try making out with him?...Well then I'm out of ideas.") Or maybe it's to protect Joe's privacy. HA HA HA HA...that last one was just for us.

Whatever my reason for the general vow of silence, it must be stopped. Because now that I'm so far away, I want everyone to remember that I'm in good company out here. I've got a partner in crime, and he's just as weird as I am. So here are some unknown facts about Joe that I think you should know:

-He cannot say "indubitably". He pronounces it "windmeel". And when I jokingly made a "rrrrrow!" sound at him, his attempted response came out, "purr-ler-ler-ler."

-We have the same pet peeves. Seriously, how hard is it to move out of the way when people are stepping off the elevator? Who were your parents?

-Sometimes he'll order my second choice meal so I can trade if I want to. He understands my buyer's remorse.

-He rubs my back when we're just standing there. (YEAH. I can hear you say "lock that down" all the way from here.)

-We love to get each other little surprises, like fancy desserts or little toys.

-When we started dating, we felt weird about all those lovey-dovey nicknames like Honey and Baby, so we called each other "Babers babings babes babes babes". That got difficult so it turned into just "Babers" and I can't tell if it's the MOST lovey-dovey option, or just the weirdest.

-I explained to him that women just want someone to listen, not someone to solve their problems. So he starts sentences with "I'm not trying to solve your problem, BUT..." which is cute in a slightly annoying way.

-The smallest things make him happy. Like, he gets really excited about holidays and new seasons, and it's turned me into someone who gets really excited about holidays and new seasons.

-He has the perfect set of Man Thighs you will ever see. Better than He-Man.

I mean, I could clearly go on, but I think you get where I'm going. In the end, he's just a sweet, genuine, funny person and I get to see him every day again and tell him all the boring stuff that doesn't make it onto here. It's pretty great, because Regina was getting pretty fed up with my stories.

Monday, November 14, 2011

But Waiting Just Around The Bend

I know! I know! I'm sorry! I have left you all on the edge of your seat, vis-a-vis The Great Move-In Of 2011. You don't know, maybe I was going for a season finale-esque cliffhanger. Or maybe I got caught up in reprogramming the TV.

Either way, consider my couch Ross and me Rachel because after months of "will they/won't they" we are finally reunited! JK, I'm totally the Ross in that relationship, let's not kid ourselves. Regardless, it didn't cost the nominal egg we thought it would. (TIME OUT to explain a Family Inside Joke: my mom knew a woman from Boston who thought the phrase was "a nominal egg" instead of "an arm and a leg" I would laugh but it hits a little close to home.)

Wow, I am WAY off topic right now. BACK TO THE MOVE IN. So we didn't have to pay for a shuttle because the truck made it to our apartment just fine, AS I TOLD THEM IT WOULD. And right before the truck was due, Joe and I stood guard over five parking spaces out front so the truck could take over all of them. We turned away the elderly and infirm and forced them to park far away and I'm not ashamed to stand here and say it right to your face.

The movers arrived, our stuff was moved in, Joe left for work and I spent the day agonizing over the extreme amount of mugs we brought along with us. Were we planning some kind of herbal tea party? Apparently yes. Regardless, everything is almost finished at this point. We have pictures to hang and rugs to lay out and boxes to toss, but we're mostly there. We have places to sit and a bed to sleep on and Regina is enjoying her options of places to hide in/lay on top of.

The question is: Now what? I've been aiming myself toward this move for so long, now that it's done, I can finally focus on what lies ahead. And what lies ahead is looking pretty good.

I've been on a professional roller coaster this year, including one very large dip. That happened a few months ago, when I was already questioning my abilities as a copywriter (I mean, come on. Laid off twice in two years? Everyone said it wasn't my fault but...it's hard to keep telling yourself that.) I went to a gathering with ex-coworkers who told me the agency was actually hiring already. That stung. When I got home, I had an email from someone I'd sent my work to. He told me that my book wasn't good enough to get a job in San Francisco.

So...it wasn't a GOOD day.

First, I did EXACTLY what Steve Carrell did in 40 Year-Old Version and walked through my apartment yelling. Then I tried looking for work in fields other than copywriting, like everyone had been telling me to do. Turns out, those jobs all require specialized knowledge in the writing topic, like parenting or healthcare or technology. The only thing it seems I can write for is How To Be Awkward and I think I already run that blog for free. That, or you need journalism experience. Which I don't have. So the only thing I was qualified for was a job that I was apparently bad at.

I don't know the right way to handle dark times. My way involved staring into space, getting back into Grey's Anatomy, and my cat laying on my neck. Now that I think about it, it is remarkably similar to the way I handled getting dumped in Paris. Except this time I had a boy who believed in me and supported me, who told me that I should do what felt right. Including staying in Chicago.

I had a lot of reasons to stay. And I weighed all of those reasons. But my gut still told me San Francisco. This was my next step. This was my new beginning.

Now that I'm here, I feel enormously good about it. Was it definitely the right decision? Hell if I know. Hell if I'll ever know. But the city is growing on me every day: the small shops, the crazy hills, the serious amount of Asian food. I like it a lot. And I've gotten more positive feedback about my portfolio, which makes me think that I may actually get a job at some point. And with a job comes more stuff that will make everything even better, including taking improv classes again, going on road trips, and buying a bike. Plus, it's mid-November and I went jogging in short sleeves today. Hard to complain about that.

So is everything perfect now? No. But it has potential to be. And for now I have a couch, my boy, and hope.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

You Miss Your Old Familiar Friends

You guys all appreciate stories about my ever-approaching demise, right? Yes? Good? On we go.

All my dreams have come true: our stuff arrives tomorrow. "But, Emily! I thought you said you'd get 2 days notice before your stuff arrived!"

...
.....
.........
............
.................DIDN'T I?!

Well, in true "all moving companies are a bunch of assholes and there's nothing you can do about it" fashion, my driver called to inform me that I had less than 24 hours to get my affairs in order, and that he would be needing a shuttle truck (an additional $350 minimum charge) since he was sure he wouldn't be able to drive his 18-wheeler through the streets of San Francisco.

................WOULDN'T YOU?!

I started calling around to all the official city numbers I could muster. I was assured that the man could drive his truck down the necessary roads. I called him back to tell him this. He told me to call the moving company because he's done it before and gotten ticketed. FINE. I called the company. Are you grasping the number of phone calls I made today yet?

Once I assured the manager that I had all the maps and the phone numbers the driver needed to ensure a good route, he started giving stuff like "well aren't there a lot of hills?" and "you're really close to the ocean" (Side note: WHAT now?!) and "he needs a place to park" and SOOOOO many excuses, it makes me wonder if these semi trucks ever get to their destinations. Like, unless you actually live ON the highway--like, ON IT--how does a 70' truck EVER deliver your stuff to your home? How? I have no idea. None.

I called 311 about bagging a few meters so the man and his beloved truck could park. They told me I needed over 24 hours notice. "YES," I told them. "That would have been LOVELY, wouldn't it?" The officer told me that what I COULD do was just get a bunch of friends to park in the metered spots until the truck came, and then have them move. I wanted to sob to the woman, "But I HAVEN'T any friends anymore!" (When you get really overdramatic, you have to talk like Amy March from Little Women, by the way.) "I've deserted them in their wintry time of need!" I'll tell you, if absence makes the heart grow fonder, my lady friends have become superheroes in my mind. They'll do anything for me now that we're apart. Adrienne would have parked there all night for me! Laura would have parked sideways and DARED anyone to complain about it. Michelle probably would have just laid across the parking spots! And Jane would...well, she would have come with hummus to keep everyone's cars company at the very least!

Oh my god, I just had a genius idea for a comic book and it may or may not involve my friends deflecting lasers with their chest plates.

So no, Officer. I do not have anyone to help me with my ketchup/catsup problem.

All of these issues, plus a few calls made by Joe and between me and Joe in which I sobbed more or less uncontrollably into the phone, took all freakin' day. With little conclusion. We will likely be paying an amount of money (in cash) the likes of which I always thought I would pay someone someday, just while adjusting my monocle and top hat.

Oh but wait. Cash. Right. And how I need to have that by tomorrow. Hmm, that's interesting. And how my bank isn't in California. Yes yes, I see the issue now.

Well I've been needing to switch my money to a bank out here. And considering all the terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad banks out there, I thought I'd do the hippie thing and join a Credit Union. I'm still unsure of exactly how Credit Unions function. But all I know is: they aren't mean banks that do mean things with your money. Okay, cool. I'll take a hundred. A hundred Credit Unions.

After all this dealing with people who are hell-bent on taking every penny they can squeeze from me, I headed over to switch my account and take out some money.

To understand my emotions upon entering the building, please watch the following:



There were actually a couple people applying to open new accounts at the same time, so a man took all of us and explained the basis of what a Credit Union is and how it works and where to find ATMs and all this.

He was...the most wonderful, adorable 30-something gay man I have ever met. He was just so freakin' cheerful. And I say again, not fake cheerful in order to get something. He was legitimately happy. Like he hadn't just spent the last 6 hours on the phone, fretting about how to park a semi on a six-lane residential street. He took out his own debit card to show us how he'd customized it with a picture of his dog. And he said things like "Let's be frank. My name's actually Carl but...sorry, stupid joke." And when he told us there was a $5 fee to sign up, he actually APOLOGIZED about it. It took every ouce of will power in my loins not to jump wholly, trustingly, into his arms, Dance Of Joy style.

Later, I went one-on-one with another guy to actually open an account. Still untrusting about hidden fees, I ripped open a fun-size M&Ms bag on his desk and started popping them like House pops Vicodin, only with slightly less scruff and to a calmer effect. Yes, I am a stress eater. I don't need your judgement, I only need your chocolate. But the guy assured me that there were no hidden fees. He also assured me that he couldn't give me the cash I needed to pay my movers. And he sent me on my way. I took an extra bag of chocolate Vicodin for the road.

So ONCE AGAIN, here I am, stuck without a bank and with maximum withdrawal limits. I'm going to try with a real bank tomorrow, and Joe can take out a bit, too. So it's not the end of the world, but it was just one of those icing on the cake moments you really love.

It was one of those days that, despite the calming affects of the Credit Union, when I got home and saw a note by the elevator that our new washer/dryers now only use h.e. soap, I threw myself face-first against the wall and pounded on it, screaming, "WHY, GOD, WHHHHHYYYYYYYYYYYYYY?!?!?!" I wish it was a day ending with an ANTM potluck or a wine and cheese gathering or an Office marathon. It would have been nice to end the day laying on the floor with you guys around me, swearing to the high heavens about my woes and telling me how correct (and how pretty) I am.

And finally, I leave you with The Oatmeal, who put my day's emotional spiral into perfect words.

See you guys on the other side of Stuff-Having and Money-Haven'ting.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Evening TV

We still don't have our furniture yet. Technically it could be here as late as the 21st. THE TWENTY FIRST, PEOPLE. That's twenty-one days without a microwave or baking sheet (they are all packed and hell if I'm going to buy a new one when we have like seven perfectly good ones in a box somewhere within the continental United States) which means all our hot food is cooked in A single pot I packed. By the way, that's a short "A" as in "A gun, let alone many guns which would necessitate an entire rack."

I really do miss all my kitchen stuff, though. All my non-perishables are also lost in the abyss somewhere: my spices...my flour...that one box of Pasta-roni that I keep telling myself I'll eat someday but I haven't and now it's been 3 years and I feel bad giving it away to a food pantry because come on it's like 3 years old but why am I never in the mood for fetuccini alfredo anyway?

I wish I had all my cooking stuff because the area I live in (and possibly all of San Francisco but I don't have proof to back this up) is LITTERED with small markets. I guess my neighborhood is also considered Little Russia, so there's all this crazy Russian and eastern European food I've never tried, including a serious amount of feta. And it's California, so of course they basically throw produce at you when you walk by. "You want an avocado? Catch! *THWACK!* I said catch!"

Maybe it's good that I can't cook all the new meals I'm envisioning, because without a job I probably shouldn't be buying expensive baklava ingredients anyway. But there's one thing I miss more than anything in the whole world. And it surprised me way more than it should: my couch.


*quietly sobs into her hand*

I don't know if this is a thing, but I am a Couch Person. Not Couch Potato, because that implies that I am lazy and don't go on adventures. But what I mean is, if I'm home and it's not dark out, I'm on the couch. I nap there. I watch TV there. I look at internet there (take a look at internet, Michael!). I blog there. I work from home there. In my studio, I only had an armchair. NOT GOOD ENOUGH. You can't stretch out on an armchair. I mean, you can sit sideways, but my rickety late-twenty-something body can't handle that position all day anyway (that's what she said--HEYO). And you can't lay in bed/air mattress all day because, besides feeling insanely lazy, you will never be able to fall asleep later. I don't even understand that phenomenon. How is your brain THAT stupid? "What? You were here all day! This can't POSSIBLY also be the place you want to sleep."

But I miss the weekdays spent on that couch. Me, sprawled out; Joe, huddled in the corner of the couch, thwarting my attempts at putting my cold feet under his butt. We'd make dinner and sit down in front of the TV to watch BSG or West Wing or something else nerdy. Then eventually we'd get up and walk to a totally separate room (imagine!) and go to bed.

That's what I miss most. That's what I want my stuff here for. Not the cookware, not the chilly-weather clothes, not the cat toothpaste because, oof, that is some CAT'S BRAAAAATH. But the couch and the simple, do-nothing, relaxing times.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Milkman, The Paperboy...


There's this book I read where a British family visits America for the first time. They're in Tennessee and everyone at the hotel keeps smiling at them and telling them to "have a nice day." The daughter leans in to her friend and whispers, "What do they WANT?"

I always laughed at this. Oh, BRITISH PEOPLE. They just don't understand. Har har, hoo hee ha hem.

And now I am one of them.

I don't know if it's too early to be making sweeping generalizations about the people of a city, but I'm going to do it anyway: people in San Francisco are disconcertingly nice.

The lady at the fruit market struck up a whole conversation with me about how gorgeous the pomegranates were. The girl checking my I.D. at the grocery store asked me how Chicago was because she wanted to see snow. The waiter at the highly-praised, Southern comfort, deserves-to-be-snotty restaurant wasn't snotty.

But these weren't people who were gunning for tips. You ever had one of those waiters or waitresses that is SO nice and smiley and eye contact-y that you consider tipping them LESS for it? Those are not the people of San Francisco. They are legitimately nice. Either that, or they are just infinitely better actors than Chicagoans.

Is it something in the water? Maybe. It is pretty good water. Is it the weather? I mean, it doesn't get too cold in the winter, but you'd think the fog and constant need for layers would make people a little more surly.

Or maybe it's because it's a city of transplants. Everyone is here because they CHOSE to be here, and you just can't be too crabby when you've chosen to live in a pink stucco apartment on a hill overlooking the ocean.

OR! Maybe it's just that Chicago is a lot more hardened of a city than I thought. I always claimed that we were the city with Midwestern kindness and sensibilities. But we're kinda just another city that ignores you on the elevator and doesn't make eye contact when you hand over your credit card. We're a city that doesn't care much for pedestrians and forces them to play real-life Frogger.

All I know is, I've been surprised daily by people being a lot more kind and helpful than I've been prepared for. I'm going to get auditory whiplash for all the times my ears have done double-takes.

Friday, November 4, 2011

What Ever Happened To Predictability?

Okay, I thought I'd share with everyone what I've been up to since arriving in San Francisco. But since we are a visual people, let's do it in PICTURES! YEAH! PICTURES! LESS! READING! MORE! SEEING! LESS! READING! MORE! SEEING! WOOP WOOP WOOP WOOP!

I don't know...I'm in a weird place right now. A weeeeird place.

So just a bit of overview: I haven't been doing anything extremely touristy. One, because I did those things when I was here the first time. Two, because I'm unemployed and have to conserve my money. And three, because I have a life to live and internet to catch up on, and I can't spend my days riding a trolley all day.

But if you are curious about what my life is currently looking like, here it is:


First and most importantly, I discovered that I live about half a mile from Robin Williams during my run this morning.

....

I'm just giving you all a little moment to let the majesty of that sentence grip your hearts.

I made a nifty little map for you. The orange star is where I live. The kooky neon green star is where Robin Williams lives.


And yes, you heard right. I am running again. I have to run now. I'm a runner. Way far away from the dock, with the, with the wind and the sky and everything. Ahoy. I am not amused. There are no gyms near me because APPARENTLY it's nice weather all year and there is a giant park nearby and SOME people think that is reason enough to forego my precious, precious ellipticals for "fresh air" and "free exercise" and "scenery." WHATEVER.

So anyway, yesterday I ran south to Golden Gate park. There were hills involved. It was not awesome (The hills, I mean. The park is, in fact, quite awesome.) Today I decided to run north to the ocean and see what that was all about. Now, I knew Sir Williams lived in San Francisco, but I didn't know where. Once I got into the neighborhood I started thinking about it, though. Every house was gorgeous, and if you were in the right place you got a view that looked something like this:


I wasn't actually looking for his house or anything...but then I saw this one.


Bigger than the others, with actual space around it (rare in this city), an enclosed basketball hoop, and the best view of the Golden Gate Bridge. THEN, across the street from the house was a bench with this on it:



Whoa. When I got home, I googled it to be sure and YEP. That is the one!

Question: Do you now play out different scenarios in which you run into Robin Williams to varying degrees of interaction, from hand wave to “You’ve got a lot of spunk! Why don’t you play my daughter in my upcoming feature film?”
Answer: OF COURSE.
Question: Do you realize how silly that is?
Answer: OF COURSE.
Question:…But you can’t stop, can you?
Answer: OF COURSE.
Question: Also, that's not how Robin Williams talks.
Answer: Quiet, you.

So that happened. Anyway, here are a few more things about where I live.

This is my apartment building.



Here is what is directly next to it.


Here is the sole piece of furniture in our apartment right now. It is a borrowed air mattress.


Here is Regina sitting awkwardly in the sunshine. She will be even happier when our furniture arrives than I will be.


OH! Speaking of Regina, here she is in her carrier (BEFORE she wriggled out.)




These are the two canned meals I had bought in preparation for easy, cheap dinners. Then I remembered we don't have a can opener yet.


Here is how we eat our meals. On the floor. Next to a cat toy because...of course.


Once we get furniture I will take you all on a virtual tour of our apartment. Until then, there's not much to see, obviously. Although there are a lot of windows and closets, which is pretty awesome.

Anyway. San Francisco composts. Like, as a thing. Hippies.


My first day I went on a grocery store hunt. I found one, which sold these. I obviously thought of Michelle.


Then I went past this. I obviously thought of Adrienne.



Then I walked past this church. I obviously thought of Jane. JUST KIDDING. I thought of Monica. Who is St. Monica? The patron saint of being a badass? I’m pretty sure.


This is an authentic Irish bakery that I think Joe will enjoy, next to a pub. I'm excited to bring his family there when they visit. (Oh, and I forgot to take a picture of the burger joint called Bill's Place which I will OBVIOUSLY take my father to when they visit. Because it is absolutely "Bill's place".)


And finally, apparently San Francisco is littered with Whomping Willows.



So that about sums it up. Everything I haven't pictured is me sitting in various coffee shops looking for a job or watching Hulu+ on my phone (Mother Necessity, where would we be?) or Joe and I running through our endless To Do lists. We spend the majority of our relationship compiling lists and schedules. It's our way.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cats On A Plane

Well the biggest hurtles of the move are over. Yes, it was a little touch and go for a few days. Kinda Charlie Brown Christmas feeling, in the "CAN'T ANYTHING GO RIGHT IN MY LIFE?!" milieu. There might as well have been a little droopy tree with a red ornament. There was definitely walking like this:



But I'm in San Francisco! And Regina is in San Francisco! And all of the trees are green...it's very weird. It feels like the Land That Time Forgot. How do you mark the passage of time here? Wrinkles? I mean, would anyone ever know it was fall if they didn't change the coffee and beer flavors?

Anyway, I want to tell you about the trip over. I'm not sure I've mentioned on the blog about transporting Regina. Or maybe I have a million times. I don't know, moving is all I've talked about with anyone for a month, so I can't remember what transpired where and I'm too lazy to read my old posts. Although you are welcome to. Read and share. Read and share. (Not to be confused with "LIIIIFT! And SLIIIIIDE." God, I really need to lay off the Friends references. OR DO I. Shut up, shut up.)

So the way they recommend traveling with cats is to take them on the plane with you as a carry-on. You buy an airport-approved soft case with mesh sides for breathing and just take her on board with you. And yes, that also means taking her through security. I had to leave the case on the conveyor belt, and take out Regina, putting a cat leash on her just in case. She didn't try to escape because she was in such shock, but I felt better knowing she couldn't get far. So no problems there. It was slightly embarrassing feeling like a cat lady holding tightly to my cat while walking through a metal detector like I couldn't make it through on my own. John suggested dressing her up. I think a pilot's hat really would have sealed the deal, actually. It cracks me up to no end thinking about my cat, already donning her natural mustache, also in a pilot's hat. Awesome. In faaaact...


But anyway, the security part was fine. It was the plane ride where things got harried. Or should I say: HAIRIED!!!!!!1 (Oh my God, what is wrong with me.)

So here's the thing. The case I bought Regina was not TECHNICALLY airplane-sanctioned, in that nothing on the store tag indicated that it was. And it also only specified that it was for dogs. Dogs shmogs, I thought. What's good enough for Fifi is good enough for Regina.

IS IT?!

Well this particular pet case had the parallel zipper on top. You know, like on a duffle bag. And where the zippers closed was a little latch. I forgot to take a picture of it and I'm at a coffee shop right now so you have to use your imagination, SORRY. What I'm saying here is: there was a gap. There was a gap in the top of the bag. Now, your typical traveling Yorkshire Terrier is probably too stupid to realize the consequences of a gap in a bag. Your typical cat is NOT. Hence the case's dog specification.

So here we were, taking off. I'm looking out the window as all of Chicago starts to come into view. Tears begin to well up in my eyes, when I hear a distinctly louder "MEOW??" than the muted ones I had heard coming from her case earlier. I look down at my feet, and there is Regina's head, sticking up out of the bag.

We had a bit of a conversation. It went like this.

"WHAT?!?!?! NO!!! No! Get back! Get in there! Stop it. GAH! Get back in there! Ow! Stop squirming!"
"Meow! Meow? Meow. Meow! Meow. Meow?"

So out pops Regina like an alien out of a dude's stomach and I'm powerless to stop it from happening. Luckily, I had chosen the right place to sit on the plane: the very back, with no one in the middle seat and a cat-loving guy sleeping in the aisle seat. Since even the flight attendants were safely buckled in during takeoff, no one saw as I sat with Regina on my lap for a good 5 minutes, her pupils so big they were taking over her face. I calmed her down and then gently, geeennnnnnnnntly shoved her back into the case. I made sure all zippers were closed and secure and started reading.

A few minutes later, "MEOW?!"

Yeah. She got out again. She had tasted freedom and she wanted more. There was swearing as I tried to get her back in. Silent swearing in my head, which turned to whispers, which then became fully vocal f-bombs. Don't worry, everyone nearby had their headphones on. At least I think they did. ("Hmm. Where ARE they?")

So finally I gave up on getting her back in and held her again. Convinced that this was my new life for the next 5 hours, I put Regina in the case once she had settled. I pulled the zippers as closed as they would go, and prayed for a few minutes respite before she tried again. But by this point, Regina had been awake for at least 6 hours straight, and I think the adventures of the day finally got to her. She calmed down and fell asleep.

Of course, this terrified me. Here was a cat who had been meowing for about 3 hours nonstop, now totally silent. Had I broken her? Did the cabin pressure make her brain explode? I got worried. I picked up the case to check.

"MEOW? MEOW? MEOW? MEOW?"

I couldn't tell if I was annoyed or relieved to hear her meowing again. But meow she did. For most of the flight. And through the airport. People kept turning around to make sure they weren't going crazy, hearing phantom meowing. "Yes, it's coming from me." I would say. But eventually, we got her (and me) to the new apartment. Joe had the air mattress and litter box all set up, so we let her out to explore. She seems fine with her new home, and I'm VERY happy. I'm back with Joe, back in a real apartment, back to living my real life, not a temporary one.

Now I just need to find a job so I can start actually doing real things in this real life, and I'll be set. That's next.

At The Heart of Women's Issues

I'll tell you guys about my move to San Francisco in a bit, but I want to address something first.

Last night I had two dreams:

1. I was in the 60's, where a group on men were plotting something sinister. I, a hardcore feminist, pretended to be a bimbo so I could spy on their plans and thawrt them.

2. I stood in front of a mirror, considering whether or not to trim my bangs.

There is SO much to analyze, so much to read into, so much irony to point out, but I hope you get where I'm going with this. In the end, women are multi-faceted, awesome people. Sometimes they are spies, and sometimes they get their hair cut. And sometimes their dreams are REALLY boring.