If I had 1.68 cents for each year of my life, I’d have enough to buy a postage stamp

My witching hour began at 11:00 p.m., when I started to look back on my 24th year and review it, in order, from my birthday celebration last year (Aruba, a plethora of drinks, a birthday jam, and being driven home by Sean, bundled up in my 200-pound evening coat; then the next day, taking off for Tahoe where I snowboarded for the first time) to this final night (Hanukkah celebration wherein I made my latke-making debut). And like an accordion, a year of memories can either be an abbreviated blip that can flash through your mind in the space of four seconds, or it can stretch itself out for miles and hours as it constantly makes room for the smaller details that slip into all the empty spaces.

Twenty-Four was the year of the start of my civil degree and my introduction to geology. It was the year I really got into dancing and the year of my first competitions; in spring, I visited Kyoto and Osaka, and over the summer, I had a brief tryst with Maine and a tumultuous love affair with D.C., and in between all that I got to know more and more of the Bay area. At 24, I moved into my first house and planted basil and papayas and apple trees and flowers. I re-taught myself CSS, then promptly forgot it all (mostly) again. I started writing (fiction) again. I became a plain-tart frozen yogurt fanatic, aficionado, and snob. I finally found the name of a song that had been eluding me since I’d been 23. I met people and un-met people, and I got suckered into using Facebook on what is now an almost-daily basis (effectively trading places with my Myspace account, which gets checked maybe once a month).

And then in October, in a desperate need to get away from Vegas for a weekend, I went to Austin, which was the catalyst for a surprise visit (to me, in Vegas) two weeks later, which was the catalyst for a week-and-a-half after that, when it was officially love. Love, Big Love, love that came, actually, entirely out-of-the-blue, considering only a month before then I’d been fervently swearing off any and all matters of the heart, most dramatically marked by my scornful disdain of "P.S. I Love You".

It’s funny, but when I go through my last year in my head, everything prior to October 17 is cast in a different light than everything succeeding. On the one hand, it could simply be because of seasons, because (duh) winter and spring and summer light is different from that of autumn. On the other hand, as disgustingly cliche and trite and banal (pronounced the superior way, just so you know, here in my posts: BAY-nul) as it is: my life changed at that point. Or not changed so much as– came to an epoch? Towards where

…I
have always been coming to. Since my time began. And when I go away
from here, this will be the mid-point, to which everything ran, before,
and from which everything will run. (A.S. Byatt, "Possession")

So yes, the Year of Twenty-Four was good and plentiful, spilling over with trips and travels and books and movies and music and drinks and food and friends and family, as I have been lucky enough to have be true of most of my years. I was 24, and I was all of the things that came with my being 24, and now that year has passed, but now, still, I am myself. Now, I am simply all of the things that twenty-four years of existence has enabled me to become: now, I am twenty-five.

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“I guess we’ll just have to invent more ways to say it”

"What else do you love, Lily?"

No one had ever asked me this before. What did I love? …

I said, "Well, I love Rosaleen, and I love writing stories and poems– just give me something to write and I will love it." After that, I really had to think.

I said, "This may be silly, but after school I love Coca-Cola with salted peanuts poured in the bottle. And when I’m finished with it, I love turning up the bottle to see where it came from." Once I’d gotten a bottle from Massachusetts, which I kept as a tribute to how far something can go in life.

"And I love the color blue– the real bright blue like the hat May had on at the Daughters of Mary meeting. And since coming here, I’ve learned to love bees and honey." I wanted to add, And you, I love you, but I felt too awkward.

"Did you know there are thirty-two names for love in one of the Eskimo languages?" August said. "And we just have this one. We are so limited, you have to use the same word for loving Rosaleen as you do for loving a Coke with peanuts. Isn’t that a shame we don’t have more ways to say it?"

Sue Monk Kidd, "The Secret Life of Bees"

Related: this.

Because we took it away, and now we have the chance to bring it back

Time did a short exposé of some of the beautiful photos from "Blue Planet Run", which, incidentally, Amazon is offering as a free PDF download on the book’s page.

And should you be so inspired to then purchase the book, know that 100% of the proceeds go to providing clean water to people around the world.

*****

Related: I read about Orange County’s wastewater treatment system in May (it launched in January), but Time recently covered the project. It was reassuring to read that it’s been doing well– so well that "water managers from around the globe have been visiting Orange County to study [the Groundwater Replenishment System]".

Kids these days.

When you introduce yourself as "Fred" and your real name is something like "Jennifer" or "Valerie", you really can’t be taken by surprise when the person you’ve just introduced yourself to asks you about the nickname. When I tell people I’m from Vegas, I’m fully prepared to explain my moonlighting escapades as a stripper whose daily joy is playing Megabucks in the eternal hopes that I’ll strike it rich.

Also, if you’re embarrassed by the way about which you acquired a nickname like "Fred", why would you keep calling yourself that? When you *know* people are always going to ask?

I miss Venice.

I think I’ve been up to some things

…like stealing other people’s post titles.

And trying out new places up here in the Bay area (Cha-Ya, a vegetarian sushi place in the Mission; Naan-N-Curry; Blue Rock Shoot; Zeitgeist, a dive bar in the City; some Thai place in San Jose that made a great mango curry; Janta, an Indian place in Palo Alto; Xanh, Vietnamese fusion; Yogurt Harmony; Scharffen-Berger) and revisiting old favorites (Ryno’s, Coupa, Cheeseboard). Oh, and cooking. We cooked tonight for his family: herb-rubbed lamb chops with a balsamic reduction served with pan-fried red pears; baby spring greens with tomatoes, avocado and crumbled goat cheese; no-flour/no-sugar black-bean brownies; and candied pecans. I just finished baking the pecans about fifteen minutes ago, and while they’re not Trader Joe’s clones, they *are* pretty damn delicious.

Also, movies. Finally saw "Bowling for Columbine", as well as "The Family Man", which wasn’t bad (I forget what the motivation was behind watching it– possibly proving to me that Nicolas Cage has had good movies other than "The Rock" and "Face/Off"), and then a few nights ago we saw "Slumdog Millionaire", which was a million times better than the first ten minutes made me fear it was going to be (I only had a vague idea of what the movie’s premise was going into it, so I didn’t have any expectations, but those first ten-or-so minutes were kind of crappy to sit through for some reason). It reminds me, more so the more I think back on it, of E.L. Konigsberg’s (ahem, Newbery-Honor-winning) book, "The View from Saturday".

And BalFest. Um. Sort of.

And– what else? I tried to go home on Wednesday, and as soon as my plane had pulled away from the gate and was about to get into the takeoff queue, our pilot got word that our flight was to be delayed by "approximately an hour-and-a-half". Ten minutes later, we learn that the delay is because: HEY! it’s snowing in Vegas. So we cruise around the tarmac for a half-hour, return to the gate so the plane can refuel, and then another half-hour later, we’re told that the flight’s been canceled. That all the flights to Vegas will be canceled. Because of snow.

(Meanwhile, in San Francisco, the skies are clear and sunny and blue.)

(Dear home: I love you, I miss you something terrible right now, but I’m pretty pissed at you. You couldn’t put off the biggest in-city snowfall Vegas has had in probably decades for three more hours? Really?)

So, yeah. I’m still here up in Oakland. Which isn’t a complaint– I like the people up here. But this stupid cold (I’m starting to wonder if it’s allergies) is still persisting and I’m tired of dealing with my stupid nose and these headaches and the fatigue and the dizziness, and I kind of just want to be back home in my own house, my own room, my own bed. I want to live out of my closet and dresser again, instead of a suitcase. But at the same time, I don’t want to leave, so– yeah, it’s a dilemma.

One more day. We’ll see.

Ice everywhere on the ground in the mornings. THAT cold.

It’s cold. Not here, at this moment– at this moment, here, I’m buried under layers of blankets and the air vents nearby are expelling salvation in the form of hot air– but I’m staring out the huge picture windows in front of me and I can see that it’s raining, and I know it’s going to be cold outside again today. As it has been for the past couple of days.

Typical thin-blooded hothouse flower of a girl, I shiver violently if even a small patch of skin is exposed to this winter air, regardless of how many layers I’m wearing. It doesn’t help matters that, unless I’m going running or dressing up, I keep leaving the house in flip-flops– understand, my roots come from Southern California, Honolulu and the desert. Flip flops are all I *know*.

It also doesn’t help matters that I’ve never really had a proper winter coat. Like, a nice wool coat. I have two jackets for snowboarding, a floor-length evening coat that weighs 200 pounds, a trenchcoat that weighs almost the same but is a size or two too big, and a million thin cotton Danskin jackets. But nothing properly winter-coat-ish. Every year, I keep thinking I’ll get around to buying one, but it usually only gets cold right as everyone starts wanting to do their holiday shopping, which means I avoid any retail area like the plague until the chaos has died down. Unfortunately, this means waiting until late February, and by then, it’s less cold and I begin to forget how I should really invest in a good coat. Plus, I just dislike shopping in general.

But all the women out here have cute coats, and it’s a daily– hourly, really– reminder of the many advantages of having a cute, warm wool coat (namely: cute! and warm!). I’ve just been wearing his jackets instead. They don’t fit by any standard– too big in the shoulders and the arms, too long, etc.– and the excess sleeves always get in the way of everything. You could maybe fit two (well, one-and-a-half) of me in them, which equates to multitudes of open passageways for the cold air to sneak in and rasp my skin with its dry chill. So really, wearing his jacket renders me neither stylish nor warm. All the more incentive to stop into a store and get a coat, a real coat, a coat that fits. Right?

Except. Except I know that even if I had that kind of a coat, even if I had a hundred of them– I would probably still just keep wearing his jacket instead (while I’m up here, anyway). It’s not ideal, it’s not superiorly protective against the cold, it’s not exactly flattering on my frame; but it’s his. Soft, sentimental and foolish, but I love wearing it because it’s his, because it belongs to him and because I have the singular privilege of wearing it. I might still be cold, but I’m also lucky– truly, luckier than most people ever get to be in their lives. So while I’m not bundled up in the latest fashion, I am wrapped up in his love, in our love, really, and that alone floods me with warmth and comfort and protects me from things far worse than winter weather.

You can go puke now from the cuteness of it all, it’s okay.

My advances were rejected in favor of tending to the garlic, but he’s making me potato soup courtesy of a recipe he learned from some woman in Brazil, so really, who am I to complain? As I type this, he’s caramelizing the onions and filling the kitchen with glorious scents of our dinner to come (now that I think about it, we’ve– unintentionally– cooked midnight dinners on more than a few occasions), and also I have apples. All I really want these days are apples, though this is hardly surprising for me. I’m in apple mode for sure. But potatoes are kind of like apples, so: potato soup. I’m excited.

I got one hour of sleep this morning, and it was on the plane. That one hour of sleep only tided me over for so long. I’ve been intermittently crashing for the last four hours.

He’s wearing his Peruvian hat with the llamas (alpacas?) knitted into the pattern, and the Beatles are playing on the little CD player sitting on top of the microwave (and we’re occasionally singing along to it), and it’s kind of cold but I’ve got his jacket to burrow into, so again– no complaints.

(I just unwrapped it off the back of the chair I’m sitting in, actually. The jacket I’ve been wearing all day– also his– is on the chair right next to me, but this one was technically closer, and anyway, it smells like him.)

Mmm. Soup’s on! Or close enough to on. I’m tired enough that I’m about to start writing all the inappropriate things that absolutely don’t belong on this site, and that alone should be motivation to call this post over.

Unlike a traffic jam when you’re already late, which is just irritating

"You know what song I’ve had stuck in my head?"
"What?"
[mock falsetto]
"Take a look, it’s in a book, it’s Reading Rainboooow."
"Mmm."
"Do you even know what I’m singing?"
"I know of the song. But I don’t actually know the song. I never watched that show, though I do know what it is."
[brief pause]
[He sends me the link to the video. As I’m watching it, it dawns on me:]
"You know what I just realized? And it’s kind of ironic, but– I never watched ‘Reading Rainbow’ because I was always busy reading books instead."

Flannel ceilings

I just watched a Youtube video of some girl doing her hair and makeup in the style of Gwen Stefani. She looked 12, but according to her Myspace profile, she’s 18; either way, at the end of the video (which clocked in over nine minutes, five of which I skipped), she looked like a baby prostitute.

My point, though, is that about two minutes into the video, I had my cheek pressed against the granite countertop and I was eyeballing my laptop screen despondently. It took her almost five minutes to do the hair part, and it wasn’t even that elaborate a ‘do, and this was post-production time, meaning several segments were sped-up, meaning it was probably more like seven minutes of footage. Seven minutes! Seven minutes of brushing and teasing and pinning and glossing and smoothing and straightening and spraying and securing! For a Youtube video! I feel excessive if I spend seven minutes a week bothering with my hair.

[side note: I have been asked out on exactly three dates my whole life.]

I spent the bulk of today being an Asian Supernerd, though, wielding an engineering pad and a graphing calculator and– assisted by the POWERS OF MATH!– taking on the World of Homework Problems one trigonometric function at a time. The hamsters were logging some serious miles in their little spinny wheels today, so, I don’t know, maybe ending with something as banal as a powder-room video was a good distraction from all those damn vector equations.

Speaking of distractions, though: The Wife wheedled me into doing 11 miles of errands à vélo with her, and we finished up at Target, where I stumbled upon shocking evidence of just how far we women still have to go before society will deem us equal to our male counterparts. Inequalities are still in effect, and it boggles my mind.

MEN’S PAJAMA PANTS HAVE POCKETS.

This is entirely unacceptable and I am understandably outraged.

Speaking of Vox:

I’d forgotten that I wrote this. It still makes me laugh, and the punchline still makes me light up after I say it. I just tried; trust me, it still works. (As does telling myself the Interrupting Starfish joke. Oh man, I could do that for hours.) (Not really.)

I don’t think I’ve ever actually celebrated Talk Like a Pirate Day, but this year, if nothing else, it will absolutely go down in history for inspiring a dancer-friend of mine to coin National Shut the Hell Up Like a Ninja Day.

September 25, 2009. Mark it on your calendars and feel free to practice plenty in advance. Especially you on your cell phone in the checkout line. SHHHHH.