Friday, December 17, 2010
Monday, December 13, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Today, once again, I received an email that was not intended for me. It was clearly meant for someone the author is interested in dating, and even though I have not been on the market for five years, I think I can safely say that the chick really lucked out in sending it to the wrong address.
Hi Gavin,Sorry that I am only just getting back to you now after your message yesterday – I am not normally so unreliable – it has just been a ridiculously hectic week. On Wednesday afternoon we had a staff meeting and the principal announced the class allocations for next year. There were quite a few surprises and a lot of unhappy people so that ended up going on for hours and I got home quite late. I then had my grade presentation day yesterday and I had to give a speech – but I only started writing it at 10:30 on Wednesday night! I had another really late day at work yesterday and a late night because I had to do more work when I got home. Next week is not looking much better because I have to do a presentation for the staff that I need to work on. So basically I have had about four hours sleep every night this week and I am struggling to even stay awake. So, although I would love to catch up with you tonight, I really don’t think I will be in any state to. I look and feel exhausted and I would be terrible company at the moment. I would really prefer that you see me when I am at my best so we can just relax and get to know each other better. My life isn’t always this hectic – we just met at a very busy time for me.I hope that when you get back from your holiday you will still want to meet up? How long are you going for?I apologise if any parts of this e-mail are incoherent due to lack of sleep. I have to leave for work now so I hope you have a great trip and I look forward to hearing from you soon.Amber
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Monday, December 6, 2010
Friday, December 3, 2010
Since I got home from India on Tuesday morning, I have spent most of my time doing four things: sleeping, working, going through my photos, and blowing my nose. My cold is starting to ease off, clearing my head a bit so I can begin to process my trip.
First things first: it was incredible. It was delicious and loud and relaxing and stressful and smelly. I saw more new things in two weeks than I had in the previous year combined. I ate my face off. I shopped more than I ever thought I would. I learned that I can, in fact, enjoy myself just sitting on the beach with nothing to do.
There were some things I didn't do. I didn't deal well with feeling foreign, with standing out and being photographed everywhere I went. I didn't allow myself any empathy for the horrible conditions that many of the people I saw live in. I didn't like it when a child grabbed my leg and asked for change, but I also didn't break down and cry, and I didn't give them money. I don't know what that means.
I made some wonderful new friends, and I also spent some time feeling weird that I was attending an intimate event essentially as an outsider. The bride and groom (who couldn't have been more loving and welcoming) had dozens of wedding activities to attend to, which meant Mike and I spent our days with all their Austin friends. This meant quick affinities, real connections, and occasional hanger-on status.
I took a ton of photos. I photographed nature and palaces and people. Some of my photos could just as easily been taken at a bar in the US, and some I am very proud of, not because they're compositionally elegant or creative, but just because I thought about where I was and focused on how I best knew to present it. I got lucky a lot. Seriously, the NEX-5 is an incredible camera.
So there you go: I'm obviously still working through stuff. But I'm well-fed, exhausted but inspired, and appreciate both my home and the big wide world more than when I left three weeks ago.
More to come.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Missing India, happy to be home. So much to tell! Too much, really. Better to focus on someone else's anecdote: last week Ke$ha asked my Australian coworker out on a date. You'll be surprised to hear that they went to a club.
Friday, November 12, 2010
We're ready to go now, just waiting for our cab. Bags packed, cats fed, house (semi-) cleaned. And I've chilled out in my demands for the excellence of our vacation. We're going to India, so it will be excellent. And it will probably blow, at times. I'm ready.
So I leave you with this: Things Organized Neatly. Wonderful.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
I am losing it just a leetle bit. We leave tomorrow for India, and the normal things you're supposed to stress about at the last minute - packing, getting the house ready, whether the cats will go apeshit while you're gone and shred all the upholstery - is of no concern. Instead, I am completely unable to book a hotel for the trip, a hotel that we will need beginning Monday night. I have spent HOURS on Trip Advisor, combing through all the recommendations. I have sent dozens of emails to inquire about reservations. And it's getting down to the wire. I tend to be a seat-of-my-pants traveler, but life has been so crazy these last few months that I feel like I need a totally relaxing, totally planned vacation.
And that is where I am screwing myself. The area that we are heading to - Goa, on the Arabian Sea - is supposed to be heavenly. The beach where we are aiming to stay is stunning. But my brain is telling me that I have to pick the perfect place to stay. What the hell does that mean? There are thatched huts, there are fancy resorts, there are beach hotels. And because this is India, we can afford them all. So I'm frozen with indecision and anxiety, and the worse it gets, the more I pity myself, because this is supposed to be fun! But what if we show up and the place I picked is a shithole, and the one next door is gorgeous, and I screwed everything up?
Clearly this is going to get resolved soon, and I'm not going to be torturing myself forever. But seriously, I need to get a grip. And take a vacation.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
I just realized I never uploaded this video - it's from when I was in Berlin, and Cait and I went for a run in the rain. The slide was calling to me! I got very wet and sandy, but it was entirely worth it.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Monday, November 8, 2010
The cleaning-out-the-fridge-before-traveling roasting of everything in sight.
Potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, beets, peppers. Once we're through our groceries, there'll be a few nights of takeout, and then...VACATION!
I think I like sports because I like stories. I'm not going to rattle off baseball or football stats at you, but I will remember things like the fact that Oakland Raiders went into this past weekend having scored 92 points in the previous two games. Because there is a narrative attached: they blew epically for the beginning of the season, and now they blow less. Baseball has such a long season, though, that it's just too much number crunching. If I can't keep track of the story, I can't keep track of caring.
So now that the SF Giants fervor has calmed down a bit, I'm realizing that I got so caught up in it because it was a great story. Each player seemed so quirky, and nice! And they were underdogs, and they won! Even better, all the little rituals - the cheers, the signs, the weed jokes - were all very San Franciscan. It gave me the warm fuzzies to have so many people acknowledging how great my city/team is.
In sum, the last few weeks were a lot of fun. We spent time in our local bar, watching the games and reconnecting with our neighbors, and Mike even made friends with a guy named Dirty Kevin. Thank you for that, Giants.
The victory parade was on a lovely warm day, and everyone was just so HAPPY. I didn't even mind the crowds (much).
I rode my bike around downtown to scope the scene, and wound up having to salmon my way up Market for several blocks because there were so many people in the streets.
Do you like having strangers high five you? If so, you should have been here.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Last week I made Smitten Kitchen's apple and cheddar scones. I don't have all that much to say about them except that you should make them immediately. You should first make sure that the people around you like the combination of apple and cheddar, though, because if you don't, and they don't, you will wind up sending all your visitors home with scones preciously individually wrapped in tinfoil. I tried to eat them all myself, I really did, but even I needed backup.
The batter alone was fantastic - buttery and apple-y and cheesy.
I was so pleased with myself for having made anything so domestic looking. Though I really need to learn to improve my food photography skills.
And everything is better when served on a green plate.
As a side note, I'd like to take a moment to note how math really is everywhere, and will not leave us alone. I was dumping all the scone-making accessories into soaking mixing bowl when I realized that bubbles are fractals. They appear out of one another, like cleanliness-oriented spores of soap and air.
Beth has known this for years, but it took this intense bubble experience for me to fully grok it. Fractals are awesome. Check out that bubbular structure, man. Sweet.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Tonight I went for a run. I wasn't really excited about it (when am I?), but Mike was coming home from work late and it was too early to open a bottle of wine. So. I did my usual 3 miles (serious runners: shutup), and ran into a Wellesleyite along the way. I was chugging along to some Coolio - seriously, revisit mid-90s poppy rap if you haven't yet done so - when she flagged me down. It was good to see her, but I was feeling a bit sad when we parted that I had missed all of "1, 2, 3, 4" except for my favorite line: "I got something new for that ass." Yes you do, Coolio.
But anyway. I was mourning the social obligations that make us miss out on our favorite pop songs ("What? I can't hear you that well...Oh yeah, Black Eyed Peas are totally lame. I would never listen to them on my own. But when they're on in a bar...No, yeah, I hate them then too, obviously.") when the perfect tune came on. A big hill loomed above me; George Michael sang through my earbuds. You got to have...Faith! Faith! Faith!
It was kismet. George Michael got me up that hill. Not only that, but I ended the run with a sprint home to my favorite song [fair warning: Youtube video], which never stops being amusing to me. Because, he's kidding, right? But what if he's not? But what if he is? Is it post-feminist of me to love this song? Post-post-feminist? When does irony just become an embarrassment to the person indulging in it?
Point of story: it was a good day to be outside on a run. And being outside is kind of the only reason I run, so it was validating. And that is pretty much all that I ask from life. Unequivocal validation.
Saturday was a rainy rainy day, and we made the most of it by going to the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park. Here is a neato thing I learned from the carnivorous plants exhibit: "Some Nepenthes [pitcher plants etc] capture frogs, and when the frogs are dissolved, all that is left in the fluid are little matching frog-gloves. Apparently, the skin on the frog hands is resistant to digestion."
Aren't you glad you know that now?
I took lots of photos with a cheesy app on my phone, and I love them. Here are a few. Ok, several. Too many. Self-restraint is not one of my virtues.
The main hall.
It was nice to be inside, with the rain outside.
The building was a bit leaky, but that just made it feel...authentic.
Lily pads that I want to lay on.
Exiting aquatic plants.
Check out this upside down pineappley dude.
I wish I had written down what this guy was.
A good leaf to hang out under.
A rainy palm tree outside.
The view upon leaving.
Saxophonists were playing in that tunnel. The End.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Monday, October 18, 2010
For my last few days in Berlin, Amanda came to visit from Bonn! It was rainy and chilly, but we made the most of it. Here's the ladies, in the lower left corner.
We walked around Cait's neighborhood and got a fantastic German brunch. I could easily eat bread and cheese and salad and pickles for breakfast for the rest of my life. Screw French toast, man. We spent Saturday afternoon in Mitte, the central district, shopping our butts off. I found Berlin fashion really inspiring - it has taken the shlubby-stylish San Francisco look to its logical conclusion: Eurohipster.
Then I dragged the ladies out for a final night on the town. One of my favorite things about Berlin is how little bars seem to have popped up in storefronts all over the place - in Cait's neighborhood, at least. You walk by a window late at night and there's a few people sitting inside, smoking cigarettes in front of a tiny bar with a chalkboard menu hanging behind it. You enter, and sit, and order wine, or a beer, or a long drink. And look at your friends over candlelight. Speaking of which, isn't Amanda pretty?
Friday, October 15, 2010
This week has involved lots of sleeping, lots of working, and lots of catching up with friends. Tuesday I met Cait and Franz downtown for lunch, which involved passing by Checkpoint Charlie, an incongruously hopping tourist spot.
Wednesday night Franz got me into his work's very traditional Oktoberfest party. There were long rows of tables, piles of pork products, and huge steins of beer. If you have never been to Oktoberfest, let me inform you that the music the bands play is INSANE. Traditional German drinking songs, "Country Roads", more traditional German drinking songs, "Copacabana", more drinking songs, "It's Raining Men". No shit - I stood on benches and sang along to "It's Raining Men" with several hundred employees of one of the world's largest media companies. Everything started to sound like a polka.
Last night we made a true fall dinner - pumpkin and feta muffins, quinoa with roasted fennel and eggplant, and pumpkin bread pudding with fresh winter squash. The bread pudding is fantastic - we are noshing on it right now, to be honest.
Today we went for a run in the rain. Here's Caitlin contemplating the downpour.
But I'm glad we persevered, because our route along the canal went by a giant slide that I, of course, had to take a ride on. I wound up on my ass in a puddle, but it was entirely worth it. Video to come, but this is me right after. The adrenaline kept me warm for the rest of the run.
And then we went to a spa, where we soaked and suana-d and floated in a salt pool while listening to music underwater. And saw lots of naked Germans. I'm getting the full cultural experience here.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Last night I was a bit of a dud - we had a great traditional German meal with my Boston roommate Franz and his brother, but my cold got the best of me and I was asleep on Caitlin's couch by 11. I feel much better today, aside from not being someone whose pockets you want to explore (hello, wadded-up tissues).
I went for a short run along the canal that runs through Caitlin's neighborhood, Neukolln. Berlin has both a river and canals, and, apparently, has more bridges than Venice. Venice also spaces its bridges out so that you have to pass through the maximum number of knockoff leather goods markets, but I digress. On the bridges it was hard to tell I was in the middle of a city.
It's fully fall here, and I was a bit chilly after my run, but I toughed it out to stroll the Turkish market nearby that Cait recommended. On the way in I passed three German dudes playing traditional American country tunes, including "Sitting on Top of the World" (my favorite version, by Doc Watson [which I just heard him perform at the bluegrass festival last weekend], is here).
I also have video, which I'll upload when I can. The market itself stretched on forever - it was easily ten times the size of my little Divis farmer's market.
There were fruits and veggies and many stands selling bolts of cloth.
It wasn't exactly easy to make purchases, but through very basic German on my part, very basic English on the sellers' parts, and some good gesturing and pointing, I made it out with herbs, bread, cheese, pears, spinach, squash, fennel, arugula, and some beautiful eggplants.
And now I'm back at Cait's lovely apartment, to do some more work and have some lunch.
Oh yes, that is string cheese. I am a happy happy lady.
Monday, October 11, 2010
You all may or may not have heard that Mike has switched jobs; a few weeks ago he left Greenpeace and started at the Rainforest Action Network. He'll be working on an anti-Chevron campaign, as Chevron is (unsurprisingly) epically screwing up the places they've been drilling; Mike's focus is on the Ecuadorian Amazon. Yesterday RAN protested by staging mock cleanups at Chevron stations in San Francisco. I won the quote of the day competition, according to my boss, by saying casually over breakfast, "My boyfriend is going to the 49ers-Eagles game tonight, if he doesn't get arrested."
But he didn't! And the 49ers lost, per usual! And the protest got some good coverage! Including this gem of a quote from a bystander, which reminds me of how on my high school newspaper we competed to get the stupidest quotes possible into our articles.
"Everybody who drives a car, we all are part of this," said Baker, of San Bruno. "I'm getting gas anyway. I need gas. I'm going to drive where I'm going to drive but I think the oil companies should take responsibility for when they screw up. I'm glad these people are out here and I'm glad to have gas."
The Frankfurt Book Fair wrapped up Saturday, and today I made my way to Berlin. The fair was, as always, intense and interesting and crazy amounts of fun. All day meetings with publishers are exhausting, but they are very enthused about the program, so the feedback was positive. Every night we had a raucous team dinner that ended in raucous bar antics. There were about 40 of us in from all over the world, and we made the most of it.
The accommodations were also pretty rad - below is the skyline of Frankfurt from my hotel room. A cab driver told me that since Frankfurt is on the Main river, and is a banking center, locals call it "Main-hattan". He also told me that the local specialty, apple wine, is very good for you, unless you drink too much of it and fall down and break your head. I think he meant it as a friendly warning.
Anyway, I'm assuming this is sunset, but to be honest, I saw as many sunrises as I saw sunsets, so it's anybody's guess. I averaged about 3 hours of sleep a night, and I'm paying for it now.
My room looked right down on the Buchmesse, which started with the building you see below and stretched for about a mile. The moving walkways in the various halls were lifesavers, but I'm still feeling the effects of four days in heels, albeit sensible ones.
Highlights included anxiety-sweating my way through the night before my big presentation to what turned out to be some very laid-back publishers, dancing my booty off with my coworkers to Germany's finest cover band at the Spritzehaus, go-karting my way to a stiff neck, and then getting a very indulgent massage the next day. The massage included an intensive tummy rub, but I don't think I'm ready to talk about that yet.
This morning I took a train from Frankfurt to Berlin, on which I had reserved a window seat. Turns out I managed to reserve a spot on the second Monday in November, which I found out when I got kicked out of my seat by a conductor who spoke no English and who apparently would not have been a good partner in Charades. I also thought my luggage had been stolen, but it had just been moved to a different rack by what I can only assume was a German trying to use the space more efficiently.
So I sat in the vestibule between cars for an hour or so, until a nice woman came and told me there were seats open that I could snag. When I got to Berlin I grabbed a taxi to Caitlin's apartment, and noticed en route a magazine in the backseat.
Welcome to Berlin, Genevieve! I actually have no complaints, aside from my volume of snot output right now. Head cold begone.