Tuesday, January 30, 2007

oh My GOD!!!!!!

I hate our landlord. My desk faces out into the courtyard towards the street, and I just watched his very large Rhodesian Ridgeback attack my downstairs neighbor's aging pug. After he'd dragged his dog off the pug, he asked my neighbor if her dog was okay, had a whole conversation with her, and THEN kicked the hell out of his dog. I'm not really cool with kicking a dog to begin with, but his damned dog probably had no idea what it was being punished for at that point. He never has him on a leash, and is constantly scolding and shouting and directing him to do things that the dog does not understand...such as, "What do you think you're doing? Get over here!" What, does he think the dog is going to answer him?

It really pays to have a little dog psychology sometimes. Such as, walk your enormous lion-hunting breed of dog, because it wasn't designed to sit inside your apartment all day. Keep the dog on a leash so you can praise it instead of yell at it and beat it. Punish the dog the instant you catch it, not after it's just obeyed you by returning to your side. If you beat it AFTER it comes to you, it just learns not to come to you.

I really hate that man.

In other news, here is what I have done today: Knit a pair of gloves. Make dinner.

No really. That's it. I have about 10 articles to write by Friday, as well as, 15 entry pages to write for a marketing company's new client. The museum people are going to be assigning me the details of the project any day now. And all I can think about is starting this blanket for some friends of ours who are getting married and how much freaking wool I'll need.

WHAT IS MY DAMNED PROBLEM? WHY AM I SO LAZY????? WHY? WHY? WHY? THIS IS WHAT I'VE BECOME? This person who reads knitting websites and lazes about all day twiddling pointy sticks?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

deadline shmeadline

I've been staring at a blank screen for about three hours now, interspersed with caramel eating, tea making, sleeve knitting, desperate eyebrow tweezing, Vanity Fair reading, and now, caramel sicking. The meeting with this brand new editor is in 13.5 hours, and if I don't get it together between now and 10:30 tomorrow morning, things are going to get ugly.

And so is my figure if I don't drop the Werther's caramels.

The nasty thing about writer's block/distraction is that I can think of about 15 brilliant writing projects for OTHER magazines and projects. I feel like a goddamn genius, only NOT FOR THIS. GAH!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Are you ever...

...just glowing with the satisfaction of a career, that while perhaps not raking in the Gs, is actually paying the bills and rent and possible skiing weekends? Yes, ladies and gentlemen, freelancing is actually working out. Today I had an emergency (read, $$$) assignment from my regular publisher. Also got an invoice request from a potential monthly magazine, which confuses me a tad since I wasn't aware I was supposed to have any finished products done yet. Yesterday I sent a major pitch to a contact of Miss Nobody's. And a friend of ours here just got a contract for the new SF museum at the old Mint and wants me to write all the copy for the website and capital campaign.

God, that feels really good.

Yesterday was considerably less feminist, spent conquering the Matterhorn of laundry we have accumulated since CHRISTMAS. Yes, I have not done laundry since December 17th. (Well, not HERE anyway.) The pile, when combined with bedroom, bathroom and kitchen, blocked off the entire hallway and reached my neck. Very impressive, even for me. It reminded me of a school cheer my dad used to sing when he was being an especial pain:

We are the Haut Gap girls
We are them flying squirrel
We wear most everything from blue jeans on down
One day, I'll be a wife
Wash clothes the rest my life
Yessir, I'm a Haut Gap girl.

I also made about sixteen batches of peanut butter pecan chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. Got dam, they were delish. I trotted a box of them down to my favorite knitting shop (Hello, June Cleaver?) and bought white merino wool to make baby booties for my niece's christening this weekend, and fingerless gloves for moi...the most HEAVENLY blue wool and silk yarn you've ever seen. I've been walking around freezing while everyone else wears my hats and gloves and mittens, and it's high time I made something for ME.

So tomorrow we fly off to Charleston again for the ball and to play with all the babies. Beulah is staying with her Uncle Charles here, and will doubtless ruin his life and apartment by the time we return to rescue him. He has this lovely minimalist apartment that was not made for galumphing devil dogs who hoist their stumpy bottoms up onto couch, regardless of whether you were sitting there first. Perhaps he will learn to love her bossiness and incessant paw chewing. Maybe he will even want to keep her.

I've been reviewing my adherence to the new years resolutions: So far I:
*Suck about giving Simons unwanted advice in the kitchen. It did save us from having to eat his nasty broiled steaks (flares nostrils with contempt). He did this on our first date, and I gnawed my way through that hockey puck as politely as I could. Who BROILS New York Strip?
*I did remember one birthday but forgot to send a card and had to call instead.
*I will have dinner with my godmother on her birthday, so I am making an effort not to be such an abysmal godchild.
*As far as keeping up the aunt and godmother relations, I will be seeing all of them in a few short days and come bearing knitted gifts (booties, leg warmers) and Chinese pj's from Chinatown and parasols.
*I have made several recipes from cookbooks, including the aforementioned cookies of delicious fatness, the coq au vin of doom, and my sister's crockpot mac and cheese of moo cow heaven. Also, this delicious pizza, pictured here.

*During these cooking adventures, I mastered the braiser and the slow cooker.
*So far I have run twice, gone to yoga not at all, and my new mat and weights sit shining in their unblemished newness on my TV table. They may sit there all year and become part of the colorful scenery of our home. South Beach has failed unless you're counting cookies, rice and pasta as vegetables.
*Simons and I did another three hour hike this weekend, and then tortured the dog's limp and broken frame while she languished on the couch. This is always good for some laughs, because she's too tired to bite us. If you tweak her toe hair, it makes her extra special mad.
*I have researched about three writing competitions, but haven't written anything yet
*And I did buy two extremely flattering pairs of jeans: Joe's and Sevens with the Sak's gift card from my mother-in-law. Isn't it amazing what an A-pocket can do for one's posterior?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Walking

Beulah and I had a glorious walk yesterday, after spending far too long indoors invoicing and doing difficult sums and coming up with wrong numbers. Also dealing with evil hags from New York who are making me FAIL IN MY NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS! HATE HER! HATE HER!

Anyhoo, it was extremely bright and cold and unbelievably windy, which made Beulah Dog awfully prancy. She almost dragged me right into the enormous grumper she left in front of the fancy nail salon on Polk Street. We walked down Union and then to Fort Mason, where the bay was a mass of whitecaps and screaming sailboats going about 100 miles an hour. We found a ball right next to this very tall gentleman.


















Alcatraz has this weird effect, where some days it will seem miles away. And then you look at it from Nob Hill or the streetcar and it seems like you could jump across to it, it's so close.













I saw this at the Aquatic Park and I'll be damned if I can tell what it's for. It's two storeys tall, has no stairs, and there's a second one facing it about a block away. I want answers.

I ought to have come home and done a spot of exercise (as if climbing Russian Hill from the Aquatic Park isn't enough). I have bought weights and a yoga mat (check, check), but haven't used them (boo). This week has been great for fruit and vegetables (check!), although Simons was very resistant with my suggestion that we go vegetarian for a month to jump start our approach to health. His response was to glare at me and start defrosting some hamburgers. Little Miss Nobody has sent me a great new freelancing possibility (thanks, Al!), which will hopefully result in some steady assignments. With enough of this long term work, I may be able to afford to blow off the NY hag permanently. Please, God. Please, God.

I did cook breakfast for Simons yesterday - French Toast- and started the cappuccino so that Simons could get in a good surf before work. So that's a ton of resolutions already working out! See, 2007 is going to be awesome.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

That Not So Fresh Feeling

Remember that post where Simons said I ought to talk about douching and menstruation a lot and nobody would read my blog anymore. Here it is.
















Yesterday was pretty uneventful, with work, a trip across town to the Haight, and a late afternoon of cooking coq au vin in my new braiser, compliments of Little Miss Nobody.

The roux smelled heavenly. The browned chicken thighs sent the dog into a whining spasm. I helped myself to a really delicious zinfandel while I cooked, plus used almost half of a bottle of good chianti that we’d accidentally left uncorked overnight and let spoil. The wine and pearl onions and mushrooms were delicious with our fat organic chicken (since old wizened rooster was unavailable). I steamed the rice with some of my rich chicken stock and delicately blanched some haricot verts and brussel sprouts to go with it.


Simons walked through the door and remarked how wonderful the apartment smelled, and poured himself a glass of wine for a relaxing dinner. And just as I was putting fork to mouth, I asked him how his day was and he dropped this bomb.

“I got a call from Mr. X at work today. Z emailed him your blog about the ball and Mr. X was really upset. I told X that I don’t read your blog, and he told me that I ought to and asked me to tell you not to write anything more about it.”

Indigestion accomplished.

Here’s the thing. I have known Mr. X for a long time and genuinely like him and think his wife hung the moon. So I’m pretty offended that 1) he ruined my coq au vin. I worked really hard at that dinner and didn’t get to taste a bite. 2) The fact that after Simons politely said he didn’t read my personal blog, because it would make him uncomfortable and make me censor myself, something my excellent husband doesn’t ever intend to do, Mr. X instructed him to do something that would come between a husband and a wife. (Um, hello?! What would Jesus do?) And 3) I haven’t even been to the damned ball yet and already this secret society is attempting to put this woman in her place.

Once I’m there, I understand that there are things I’m not allowed to do, and I’m not gauche enough to flout its conventions. I’m not that tacky. But attempting to silence me on my own blog is rude, wrong and chauvinist. If they don't like it, they can go to some other website and read something else. I was done writing about it, but now I’ve got my back up.

And I have to wonder why people are getting mad about the opinions of one little girl in San Francisco. Why are people so defensive if I’m writing about my own personal conflict with popular Southern traditions…lots of them, not just this one?

Clearly if they’re already telling me to shut up, and white males are already sending messages back and forth about my presumptuous online journal, I was right to be conflicted. Something stinks in Denmark, people.

My sister tells me that it’s important to maintain relationships so that our children will be able to join this particular society, and honestly, I am not sure I want that. I don’t know that it’s the best example of the kind of citizenship I want to encourage in my children. I’ve been considering adoption rather than natural childbirth, and supposing we adopted a child of another race or culture, I wonder how welcome he would be. I wonder she would fit in Charleston’s schools, its clubs, its businesses, its organizations.

I love Charleston, despite and even because of its turmoil. It’s home. My home, and I’m allowed to think and write whatever I like about it. My in-laws are so excited for us to be there, and I love them for being that way. Since last night’s brouhaha, I feel badly that I’m not as excited as I’m expected to be for this honor. It’s not that I don’t recognize that it is one. There are a lot of girls who would have given their eyeteeth to be in my position. I appreciate that fully. You have no idea.

But I was the one selected- ME. And they chose a bride who was a feminist, a liberal, a chef, a writer, a do gooder, a runner, a knitter, a smartass, an idealist. They chose me. That’s who they’re getting, and I’m not going to suddenly be someone else.

I’m going to go, and I’m going to dance and have fun, and I’m not going to talk about my blog with anyone, so I deeply hope that no one is gauche enough to ask about it or hint or do anything else that will make me uncomfortable and force me to say something quelling. I haven’t been rude, so it will be up to someone else to throw down the gauntlet of tackiness. I consider this matter closed.

Monday Post

Don't you just hate it when you are carrying your 50-lb bag of Smoked Trout and Sweet Potato kibble, running for the bus, and the damned driver gives you a hassle for not having your Muni pass out and your dog's muzzle already on? I HAD them both in my purse, but it's hard to run and carry aforementioned human-sized kibble bag under one arm while rummaging through my knitting bag (like I'd be able to knit on the bus with the 600 people giving me stink eye for having a dog) for everything at the same time. Beulah went into a sulk for having to wear her muzzle, but was well behaved, even when people stepped perilously close to her nub.

So that was my big event for the day, which means I'm turning into one of those haus frau types who can only report their exciting errands. Maybe I should go have a martini. It is almost 3:00.

My only saving grace is that Simons and I had an awesome weekend, the kind that makes all your muscles ache, but you feel like you've filled yourself up with enough sunshine and fresh air to make it through the week, even if it rains. Apparently there was a north swell, which demanded that Simons drive up to Rodeo Beach for a new surf break. It was well worth the trip, since Beulah and I got to do a pretty good day hike on the Coastal, Wolf Ridge and Miwok trails, all of which had incredible views over the Bay and the Pacific. It was hot, thank heavens, and clear, the perfect reminder for why we moved out here in the first place.

Then we had to put ourselves in a foul temper by going to Target. It seems as though we have so much crap, we have to own crap to store our crap. We are craptacular. We are lousy with crap. The Target was very impressive and made us both want to scream and suck our thumbs and hide under the circle dress racks. Our cart was so full, I accidentally ran over a very mean person with no sense of humor at all. And then we went home and stored everything to the point that we're practically minimalist now.

We keep walking from room to room, saying, "Damn, it's clean in here." No dust. No stuff. No clutter. It's a good things Simons is so handy, an excellent trait in a husband.

Sunday was almost as fun, with another trip across the bridge to Bolinas, which is just past Stinson Beach. You go on this really nauseatingly curvy road through the redwoods and smellumy eucalyptus forests until suddenly you're absolutely blinded by the brilliance of the Pacific. It's breathtaking.

Bolinas itself is the most marvelously hippy beach, with happy families and romping dogs and little used book stores and VWs everywhere. Beulah got to swim, which is unusual, since the water is usually much too rough for small brown dogs. I got to throw her ball, pick up cool rocks, visit with all the nice hippies and check out all the awesome graffiti art on the seawall.

I got a great photo of this random longboarder, who caught an awesome wave just at sunset. It was almost enough to make me wish I'd brought my board. Anyway, I thought he was Simons which is why i snapped the picture, and then felt embarrassed and disloyal. But since the guy was walking up the beach, I showed him the picture and offered to email it to him. I'm sure he thought I was some nerdy surf groupy/stalker.

We drove home back through the redwoods and caught this final glimpse of the sunset over the water, with the first star overhead.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Weekend Preview

Sims and I had a killer weekend, with hikes, surfing, shopping gauntlets and beach excursions. More later, as I have to walk to the Haight to buy dog food...from Nob Hill. I'm so health-conscious, I may die.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Gentlest Baby in the World







Sarah Elizabeth Devours Sophie the Giraffe








So cute my ovaries hurt

Children of the Resolution

So far, have run twice, hiked once, signed up for a yoga class, penciled in a Fair Isle course, failed utterly at South Beach (damned Holly and her chocolates), begun Simons' raglan sweater (five inches so far), worn an apron once, and have folded my clothes instead of leaving them in a heap on the floor for four days running. My God, my chi is PUMPED!

This morning, after months of frustration and somewhat alarming self discipline, Simons submitted his entry for an international architectural design competition in Peru...a little project I like to call The Vagina. (Was that my dad's head hitting the floor?) While reading the synopsis, the aerial view of this ancient mesa and Mayan grain "processing" facility was described as "resembling an enormous stone vagina," and I swear I'm not making this up.

Simons should never have told me. He has learned to dread the question, "Honey, what are you doing?"

Juvenile cackling always ensues, kind of like my snorting every time I mention roasting something in our Le Creuset Dutch Oven. (snort) Heh heh. Dutch oven.

Most of the time large firms enter a whole team of architects for these competitions, but Simons decided to design the museum and research facility all by himself, which I think is really quite ambitious. If he wins, we would get an all expenses paid trip to Peru and such fun activities, and although that's probably unlikely, his idea is really amazing, and I've been bowled over once again by my husband's unfathomable creativity. Seriously, where does he come up with this stuff? How sweet would it be if he won? What a resume builder for him! What an excellent opportunity to eat new food for me!

I'm off this morning to the Wok Shop, my favorite shop in Chinatown. Must avoid Moon Cakes at all costs...

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year

You know how there are some houseguests who use up all the hot water, hog the couch and eat the last piece of cheesecake when you wanted it? Holly and Sean are not them.

Holly is sitting in my living room doing a phone interview right now, saying, “mmmm….right…right…hahaha, yes, London, right” in that particular high pitched British way that kills me. She made me soft boiled eggs last night, which are DIVINE! And bought me Cadbury’s and red fishing trousers! From Vietnam! As far as I’m concerned, she can stay forever. Although, I have to be honest...someone was snoring last night, and it wasn’t Fat Charles. Poor Sean, a piddler AND a snorer?


The cats, however, are driving Beulah insane. I think she’s scared of Sadie, who just marched into the kitchen and commenced eating Beulah’s special trout chow, and hissed every time the dog twitched with damaged ego. The dog also spent the whole night with her snout mashed against the crack under the bedroom door, snorting and sneezing with impotent rage as the cats cavorted up and down the hallway in fits of midnight cat madness. She is totally demoralized and may need therapy.

I’m hoping to take Holly and Sean to my favorite Chinatown restaurant today, since I think I’ve been a rotten hostess, having been hungover, jetlagged (it seems wrong complaining about my 3-hour jetlag vs Holly’s 300-hour Singapore lag) and messy. Must clean. Must cook proper meals rather than standing in front of the fridge for 30 minutes, sighing and frowning.

Speaking of, I’ve finally finished up my list of 2007 New Years Resolutions. A few years ago, I jumped on the K. Lo bandwagon and began making hundreds of resolutions, thereby assuring myself a better than average chance of fulfilling them. For those of you who say that my list more than a little resembles my “To Do” list for last month, I say Mind Your Own Business.


This morning, I started South Beach so that MAYBE I can fit into my wedding dress again in two weeks for this goddamn horror of a ball. How embarrassing it will be when I burst forth from my satin froth and all my jiggly bits are out there for all the world to see? I hope someone takes a picture, because doubtless I’ll find it terribly amusing when I’m 85 and my jiggly bits have turned to dangly bits. So far today, I grade myself an 75% on strict adherence to The Plan, since I caved in and wolfed the rest of Holly’s Cadbury’s gift (it was going stale, I had to). But I DID safely avoid the potatoes and carrots in my delicious salade nicoise at lunch. I’m practically virtuous. Only 16 more days to go.

NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS 2007

FAMILY and FRIENDS
1. Be more grateful for the friends and family that I have

2. Learn how to stop giving advice all the time
3. Be a better listener
4. Don't say mean things about people even if I am thinking them
5. Stop being so sarcastic
6. Remember birthdays
7. Give presents/cards on time
8. Be a good godmother- visits, presents, cards, letters, handknits
9. Be a good aunt- more visits, babysit, cards, letters, handknits
10. Sometimes go to social engagements I’d rather not attend
11. Be better about remembering names
12. Try to meet interesting people- go to more events of an educational nature
13. Learn how to mingle better
14. Invite someone interesting over for wine at least once a month
15. Make a good California CD for friends
16. Write three letters to friends each week
17. Send a care package to Mayfield

COOKING
18. Use a cookbook at least once a week
19. Bake something once every other week

20. Make my own stocks (first use the freezer full I have)
21. Learn to make demiglace
22. Keep tabs of what we eat at restaurants and make a personal Best Of list
23. Find a good dim sum place
24. Keep track of good recipes
25. Write down wines that we like
26. Keep entertaining journal (very good last six months, continue)
27. HELP Simons cook less
28. Invite someone over for dinner at least once a month
29. Go wine tasting once every other month
30. Wear an apron while cooking
31. Plan meals
32. Use my kitchen implements more: braiser, paella pan, mixers, etc
33. Figure out how to use the GD slow cooker even though is moot object
34. Go to work with S.M. once to see what it’s like to be a personal chef
35. Take a cooking class
36. Learn to can, pickle, preserve
37. Take a cheese class
38. Go to the farmer’s market at least once a month and get new ingredient
39. Cook more with heirloom vegetables
40. Have tea at the Ritz
41. Go to Japanese tea garden

HABITS
42. Use SF travel guide Christmas present and try to go see something in it once a week
43. Spend more time doing hair so I look less trailer
44. Volunteer for at least one organization this year
45. Go to church once a month
46. Pray more even when I don’t need something
47. Have better time management
48. Keep abreast of news (read NYT headlines every day)
49. Memorize one poem a month
50. Eat more slowly
51. Stop being so open with people on streets here as they all seem to be perverts
52. Go see a movie and go out to eat a nice dinner by myself at least once
53. Swear less
54. Pack lighter
55. Wear hair down more
56. Knit all Christmas gifts before Thanksgiving
57. Send all holiday cards before Thanksgiving
58. Finish the @#$% thank you notes
59. Figure out gauge
60. Understand blocking
61. Knit two sweaters this year (at least)
62. Learn how to read patterns better
63. When purchasing patterns and yarn, actually start and COMPLETE the project (have been v. good about this so far)


64. Take one knitting class every other month
65. Go to one knitting group a week
66. Knit afghans for engaged friends
67. Give more to homeless people (keep spare change)
68. Understand public transit

HEALTH AND WELLNESS
69. Lose 10 lbs. by birthday
70. Do South Beach vigilantly so can fit back into torturously fitted wedding dress by Jan 17th, damn, damn, damn, will never happen
71. Do core fitness DVD once a week
72. Buy some weights
73. Use the weights
74. Floss
75. Figure out Invisiline and get back on track
76. Fix bike
77. Run at least 9 miles per week or three times per week
78. Try to run in at least two short races and one half or full marathon this year
79. Find a running podcast
80. Find a yoga podcast
81. Go to yoga at least once a week
82. Drink at least 2 L of water per day
83. Eat at least two vegetables per day
84. Be very vigilant about not getting sinus infections
85. Take better care of my skin
86. Use sunscreen every day
87. Take temperature in mornings (don’t get excited. Just a precursor.)
88. Learn to do a handstand
89. Learn Sanskrit yoga terms
90. Do a backbend
91. Go hiking at least twice a month (very good start with hellish new year's day hangover hike)

92. Surf again- stop being a wimp

HOME
93. Throw old magazines away as soon as I read them
94. Frame Black and White photos of family
95. Paint new apartment so is less institutional
96. Throw out old clothes
97. Keeps closets and pantry neater
98. Put clothes away instead of throwing them on the floor
99. Buy more plants and remember to water them
100. Organize scrapbook stuff and letters- put all in one box
101. Learn how to make photo books with iPhoto- for anniversary, present Our First Year of Marriage book to Simons.
102. Make corkboard finally
103. Paint shelves
104. Figure out what to do with junk that I find (sea glass, shells, rocks, etc)

MIND
105. Keep a dream journal by bed
106. Read 52 books, that's one a week. No "chick lit"
107. Keep a reading journal. Write down a bit about each in a notebook, maybe summarize the plot or quote bits from the text
108. See more indie films
109. Improve Italian, French, Spanish (use tapes, read foreign magazines and books)
110. Learn how to order food in Chinese

WORK
111. Try to be kinder to evil satanic assistant publisher whore that I work for even though she is evil and satanic
112. Write one pitch letter a week
113. Look at grad school opportunities
114. Attend a MB class at least once every other month
115. Set up own website
116. Get rid of Blogger
117. Take a photography class
118. Learn about podcasting
119. Get Skype
120. Pitch personal essay every month
121. Write favorite authors
122. Get favorite book back from SK, evil book poacher
123. Write more fiction and have personal story published
124. Enter at least four writing competitions
125. Learn all current computer programs
126. Keep better track of clips
127. Be better about deadlines
128. Be less defensive with criticism
129. Join at least one work organization
130. Make better contacts
131. Learn how to put video on blog

RETAIL
132. Recreate wardrobe with better choices and colors
133. Buy a long winter coat
134. Get a needle bag
135. Buy non-embarrassing jeans
136. Purchase either downhill or cross country skiing paraphenalia

MONEY
137. Pay off bank loan
138. Start saving 10%
139. Figure out self employment tax
140. Do something with 401k
141. Figure out insurance from last year
142. Pay bills on time and figure out a good system
143. Start an HSA
144. Plan to get rid of debt
145. Learn about investing
146. Have more money in savings than I do in checking
147. Learn how I spend the most money and try to cut costs in those areas
148. Make a budget and come up with some goals
149. Plan a really good trip and start saving

LOVE
150. Make sweater for Simons
151. Try to cook nice breakfast for him twice a week
152. Ask him to do less stuff I can do myself
153. Listen more and think of responses less
154. Plan one romantic thing each week
155. Think before I speak when I’m mad
156. Try to honor him as I promised
157. Remember his small kindnesses
158. Forget my small grievances
159. Take more picnics
160. Try to keep my stuff more organized so it doesn’t fill up the house and stress him out.