Hey! Hey look! Look at what I got done while I was surrounded by dudes in the middle of the desert!

Since there were those whole two or three months when I wasn’t writing much, thus the front page content wasn’t updating often, you probably haven’t scrolled down to the bottom of the page in a while. Some weeks ago, I finally finished working on the design for the footer and tacked it on, and last night and this morning I put the finishing touches on my "About" and "Links" pages.

Derek Powazek mentioned once that there should always be something at the bottom of the front page as a sort of "reward" for the reader’s making it all the way down there. Something like that. I would look for it, except I’m being rushed out the door for a last-second trip BACK to Vegas (and then we come back tomorrow morning so I can pick up my car, and then it’s off to Fullerton for the rest of the weekend). Either way, that was his general idea and I really liked it and now I’m finally implementing it.

So, yeah. Check it out! And have a great weekend. ::muah!::

And also some D.C. filler content

Favorite moments in D.C.:

  • Dinner @ Oya. Someone once asked me what the vegetarian equivalent of filet mignon was, and I’ve never been able to think of a decent answer– until now. The tofu tempura at Oya. That is my filet mignon.
  • Being told that I look at the world "like a photographer". It was my favorite compliment of the weekend.
  • D. was exasperated that I was more interested in the squirrels running around the Mall than I was in the White House and tried to entice me to pay more attention to the landmark by telling me Laura Bush might walk out the front door at any second. I earnestly protested, but I can’t feed Laura Bush peanuts! And she doesn’t scamper.
  • Climbing up to the *actual* rooftop (*not* the rooftop terrace) of D.’s building via maintenance ladders and looking out over the city at night. Hey, if they don’t want people climbing up there, they need to put a lock on that door.
  • Lunch in the courtyard of the Portrait Gallery (SAAM). It was so peaceful and perfect and wonderful. It made me think, just a little, of the Bellagio Conservatory, except without all the tourists. And, um, the flowers.
  • A shirt I saw two leads wearing at ILHC: "Je danse, donc tu suis." It makes me wonder if their follows (I think the shirt was for a dance group) have a shirt that says "Je danse, donc je suis", which– because I’m assuming here you understand French, or at least are familiar enough with Descartes so that you get the first half of this joke– is EVEN BETTER. And if they don’t, I want to make one and wear it. Even though, as the K-man pointed out to me via Twitter, I am not French.
  • The cheesecake brownie I bought from Corner Bakery so I could justify to myself using their Wi-Fi. Best cheesecake brownie I’ve tasted in years.
  • Seeing the Capitol at night.
  • Sunday morning, late breakfast at the coffee shop downstairs, sitting at one of the outside tables. Weather = gorgeous. Someone had left behind a copy of the Washington Post, so I skimmed through the news (and read the comics) while he did the "Find the differences" photo challenge thing (with which I ended up helping him; thank you, attention-to-detail skills which made me such a kick-ass copy editor). It was such a domestic and comfortable morning.
  • The bear! At La Crêperie!
  • Serenading D.’s cat, Daisy, with the chorus of "Daisy Bell". Endlessly.

And this was D.C.

The only reason leaving Maine didn’t render me a teary mess is because I was leaving it for D.C., and the anticipation of going to D.C. managed to override any other emotion in me. Still: it’s possible I was particularly vulnerable as a lingering effect of Maine. Or maybe D.C. would have affected me the way it did even had I gone there the weekend *before* Maine (which was my original plan). Either way, I flew into Reagan International and the instant I crossed the threshold of the loading bridge and stepped into the gate– not even the city, just the gate of the *airport*– I knew I was in for trouble.

Understand that I fall in love with cities (and airports) all the time, in keeping with the still-true fact that I love frequently, simply, constantly. San Francisco, Berkeley, Tahoe, Reno, Sherman Oaks, Kansas City, Atlanta, Gainesville. The list is inexhaustible. But it’s a strange breed of love, this, in that I love these places, love them wholly and unillusioned, but I’ve never been able to see myself living there. I love them, but nothing in them says "home" to me. Even San Diego. I lived in San Diego for three years, total, and as crazy as I was about it– as many things as I found there that I miss like hell now– never did it actually feel like home.

Enter Reagan. Enter D.C.

Continue reading

This was my Maine

Here’s the thing about my trip to Maine, and even my trip to D.C. (which I might tackle tomorrow): you’re not really going to be that interested in hearing about it. It’s like writing about what I dreamed or what I ate for lunch. Sure, it might be interesting in some respects, but it’s probably nothing you haven’t already had to sit through already with someone else. It’s the same with taking pictures. "Here’s a picture of a place I visited!" And, oh, it looks like a hundred million other pictures of that exact same place that a hundred million other people have already uploaded onto the Internet. Vacations, dreams and meals: the most overpresented subjects in the history of communication. Which isn’t to say they don’t make for great filler, and which absolutely isn’t to say I’m above writing about them when I’m floundering for creativity.

But. Maine. First off, going to Maine– specifically, going to Maine to pick blueberries– has been something my mom and I have talked about for longer than I can remember. Every summer, she would remind me that we should fly to Maine and pick blueberries, and every summer I was never able to go– until this summer. So this trip was in the making for a very long time, and getting to check this off the list was a huge deal for me.

And then we got there. We flew into Portland from Dulles, and as our plane began its descent, I looked out the window and my heart stopped. Islands, big and small, heavy with vegetation and dotted with houses and surrounded by sailboat upon sailboat. Blue, blue water rolling up against the grey rocks and cliffs that formed the coastline. And then– trees, everywhere trees of every shade of green, interspersed with red brick structures and farm-style houses and colonial buildings. And all of this as the sun was beginning to set. It was an introduction to New England that is pretty hard to beat.

The vacation itself was wonderful, too, of course. It rained for the first half of Tuesday, which I loved. We went to the coast and I got to play a little in the Atlantic Ocean for the first time and we went to some lighthouses and took pictures. My mom got to eat Maine lobster and I tried Grape Nut pudding, which is supposedly a traditional Maine dessert, a variation on bread pudding (and suprisingly fantastic). We went to an orchard and picked blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, peaches, plums, and apples; then we found wild blackberries and wild blueberries and picked those, too. And I climbed a tree that extended over the Saco River and watched the water as it lazily drifted by, and on our last night there I crawled through some wilderness by a bridge and balance-walked a fallen tree trunk that crossed a busy stream.

But the beauty of everything I saw in Maine, from the second I stepped outside of that airport to the second I walked back in three days later, struck me in a way I haven’t been struck– in three years, really. It’s a risky sort of feeling; being able to access so great a height also means being able to access so low a depth. I’ve been fortunate enough to have evaded the latter for two years now, but the sacrifice has always been– the former. Of course I’ve still been able to appreciate beautiful things all this time– but Maine. Oh, Maine, Maine sneaked inside of me and burrowed its way into places I’d forgotten I’d had locked away. The night we flew in, the entire drive from Portland to Hiram, I had to dig my nails into my palms to keep the ache in my chest from swallowing me whole. Our hosts teased me during our stay about how I was "quiet as a church mouse"– but the truth is, I couldn’t speak. Maine just kept taking my breath away.

I didn’t miss you, Internet, but I’m glad to have you back? Which counts for something?

I was going to write an amusing little thing on slow dances and cell phones to tide this site over until I’m rested enough to do a good write-up of my week on the East Coast, except I know how I work. Remember my post on my trip to Japan back in March? Oh, right, of course you don’t. BECAUSE I NEVER GOT AROUND TO WRITING IT. Though at least I was honest about it at the time.

(Did I even put up a Flickr set of the pictures from Kyoto?)

(…)

(Nope.)

So. I was sitting here at my desk, eating pieces of frozen pineapple (yum) and composing the amusing filler post in my head when I said to myself– very sternly– "Self. Look here, self. If you don’t write about Maine and D.C. tonight, you never will, and that, lazy self, is unacceptable. And don’t even think about eating that whole container of pineapple. You *know* what happens to your tongue when you eat too much pineapple."

Enter this post. Which I fully intended to be a substantial post concerning blueberries and city streets and lots of holy-shit, hand-to-my-heart, don’t-cry-don’t-cry moments. Um, when I started it. But now I’ve gotten this far and the fact that I’ve been awake for 23 hours now is *really* starting to hit me (included in those 23 hours are multiple instances of having to haul ass across campus in heat and humidity and head-to-toe black AND three-inch heels) and also my tongue is on fire. Because I might have, in this meantime, eaten the whole container of pineapple. Because I might have accidentally forgotten to eat otherwise today, and that forgetting might have induced willful disregard of the fact that this, THIS is what happens when I eat too much pineapple, and whenever I eat pineapple, it almost always ends up being "too much", because it’s just so damned de-tasty. Still. Oof. You’d think I would learn. It’s like smearing a paste of fire ants and cactus thorns and habanero seeds all over my tongue.

And I have school tomorrow, bright and early. So you get nothing. No Maine, no D.C., no funny ramble about slow dances. You get this. And a here’s-maybe-hoping that I’ll write something slightly decent and even slightly more worth reading before Wednesday.

Thanks and you’re welcome, Mom

One gate agent to another, as she collects my boarding pass, somewhat exasperated:

"You see how she’s dressed? *She* knows how to dress for a flight."

And then, on the loading bridge, one little girl with her sister:

"It’s not like we’re actually staying in San Francisco."
"I know. I’m just excited about the airport."

Hell to the yes on that one.

Love letters from Vegas, I

There’s another lightning storm out tonight. I want to say it’s a desert thing, that these storms just naturally occur more frequently in the desert, but I can’t remember where this idea came from. Was it a science show? A science book? A science article? Or just my imagination? I don’t remember a lot of lightning in San Diego, but I do remember a pleasant amount of rain. Given the choice, I’d take rain over lightning in a heartbeat, but all the same, there’s just… something… about a lightning storm in a desert. It’s like our sunrises and our sunsets and our thin, piercing winter mornings. Gifts from the sky to make up for all that’s lacking in our ground.

I washed dishes this afternoon. Not because there was an urgent need for them to be done or because the dishwasher wasn’t working, but because it calms me. (Another thing that tends to calm me is cooking– when it’s for the simple sake of cooking– which, of course, piles up dirty pots and pans, so it’s a constant cycle of zen opportunities.) I still remember the first time my mom gave in to my pleas and taught me how to wash dishes; she pulled up the green metal stool to the sink for me to kneel on so I could reach things and handed me a little plastic yellow plate. So there’s that: I had an early association of the task to quiet happiness. Washing dishes when I was a kid meant time alone with my mom, home for the time being and uncharacteristically stationary.

It means something different now, obviously. Well– no. I don’t think it *means* anything, really, these days. It’s just productive space-out time. When I wash dishes, my mind wanders off into a black hole and the resulting void of thoughts borders on a meditative feel. It’s the same tranquility that accompanies a thousand-yard-stare, except at the end of it all I have the satisfaction of knowing that I Got Something Done. Plus, there’s a quiet kind of pleasure in being able to turn dirty into clean, mess into order.

Or if I just had an orchard and a greenhouse.

I’m having a decidedly unromantic love affair with mushrooms– white, porcini, crimini, portabella. The asparagus and the baby spinach don’t seem to have a problem with it, which is why maybe this affair lacks the excitement and thrill other affairs (Yofrutto vs. Cefiore, Fontina vs. Port Salut vs. brie, San Francisco vs. the world) have had to such high extents. The tofu and seitan feel a bit slighted, but they’ve been getting the shaft for months, anyway.

And of course, it’s mid-August, which means the pears are on their way and the apples soon to follow. I love fall harvests. And once the cold weather sets in? Not only will there be more bike rides, but cold weather means soup season! And fresh tomato soup always means five-grilled-cheese and tomato on sourdough. You should feel the buzz of excitement and anticipation that pervades my kitchen. This could only be better if we had a proper farmer’s market out here.

A post to inspire me to post more frequently just to get this one off the front page, no doubt

It’s coming on three years, soon, since I started to get better. That’s not what this post is about, though, me being sick or unwell or anything like that. I only mentioned it because I just looked at my wall calendar and realized what time of year it was. And also because it’s a little bit related.

I’ve had a ridiculous amount of luck in my life. That’s all it can be called, really: luck. It’s nothing I earned or deserved, unless you believe in karma and reincarnation, in which case I must have been a mind-blowingly wonderful person the last time around. Regardless, I’ve– I’ve had a lucky life. In all situations: social, professional, personal, academic. There have been times– too many for me to count– where things have been headed toward something really ugly or unpleasant (or, god forbid, hard), and I’ve managed to cut out early. Pull a Felix-the-cat, conjuring up magic holes that provided me an escape route. I’ve fallen, but not crashed (with the exception of instances related to the first paragraph).

But this time, for the first time that I can consciously recall, I’m headed for sudden impact. Engines ablaze, trails of smoke, no parachute– that whole deal. Except the analogy’s slightly wrong, it’s too fast-paced and noisy and obvious: more like a ship sinking in the middle of the ocean in winter, then. That slow, quiet, subdued descent toward confirmed doom. There will be no magical escape, no deus ex machina, no savior ship miraculously passing by just in the nick of time. It’s not "sink or swim"; sinking is not an option. There will be sinking, and, oh, that water’s going to be cold and it’ll hurt like a motherfucker. But there is, at least, hope. It’s possible for it to be "sink then swim". It just depends on whether I’m still able to swim, after. Whether I’ll remember how, amidst all the chaos and unhappiness. I’m strong, I know, or at least stronger than you might think. I’ve pulled myself through and steeled myself against quite a lot. By December, this will be nothing but a whisper of a memory. I’ll get by.