My Home Is the Tenderloin.

all photos in this post from sfgate.com

So this guy wrote a post satirizing an ad campaign for a less-than-ideal living community in San Francisco, just inward from Daly City. Each ad always closed with something like, "My life is San Francisco. My home is Parkmerced." The joke here is that Parkmerced is about as far removed from San Francisco and its typical "life" as one can get within city limits: far from the main parts of the city, crowded with SFSU students, populated mostly with traffic circles. Even Excelsior is more San Francisco.

Anyway, my point here is not to hate on Parkmerced; it is instead to address what the aforementioned post lacks in its attention to what the campaign would be like if it were honest. The author creates some such slogans for other parts of the city. Some quotes:
My life is waiting 45 minutes for the M Oceanview, my home is Parkmerced

My life is being invaded by the Chinese, my home is North Beach
My life is your art school, my home is Union Square
Mi vida es gringos aburguesado mi barrio, mi casa es la Misión
My life sucks, my home is Fisherman's Wharf
Unfortunately, he neglects my area of town (along with others), which I have approximated as the Tenderloin.

So I've come up with a few of my own:
  • My life is used hypodermic needles; my home is the Tenderloin.
  • My life is Korean bars; my home is the Tenderloin.
  • My life is in a shopping cart; my home is the Tenderloin.
  • My life is a liquor store on every corner; my home is the Tenderloin.
  • My life is playgrounds and strip clubs; my home is the Tenderloin.
  • My life freaks people out after dark; my home is the Tenderloin.
  • My life is an upcycled wheelchair; my home is the Tenderloin.
  • My life is the new Mission; my home is the Tenderloin.
  • My life is loud talkers on the 31; my home is the Tenderloin.
  • My life is meth and hookers; my home is the Tenderloin.
  • My life is ignored by the city; my home is the Tenderloin.

What do you think? Surprise me with suggestions for other forgotten parts of the city (Sunset, Richmond, Presidio, Excelsior, Chinatown, Nob Hill, Western Addition, Hayes Valley, Russian Hill, etc.)!



Münchausen Syndrome

When I went to Indiana for my grandpa's funeral, I started breaking out in nightly hives, mostly under where clothes might rub or fit tightly. One night, even my lips swelled up to Jolie proportions. Was I allergic to Indiana? To my family? To the water? The wine? The detergent? The nostalgia? In any case, I undertook an investigation of the deepest order upon my return home.

I typed "hives at night" into Google's powerful search engine, clicked around, added quotes to my query, and finally diagnosed myself with delayed pressure urticaria. So I had a diagnosis, a prognosis, and a treatment plan (which just happens to be "do nothing") within minutes.

This is unlike the olden days, back before the Web made it to our behind-the-times household, the same that refused to get call waiting until long after I moved out. When I was a child, one of my favorite games was play hypochondriac with The American Medical Association Family Medical Guide:

Revised and updated in 1903.

It contained a dizzying array of outdated health information, from the four food groups and amorphous drawings of anatomy to the most popular prescription drugs of the day and tips to avoid black lung disease (called "pneumoconiosis" in the future):

 Mmm, look at that healthy rib-eye!

But "Part Four: What Are Your Symptoms?" was the most dog-eared section, containing the "popular and always-helpful symptoms charts":
"Organized like flow charts, the symptoms charts direct you through a series of questions with yes or no answers from a specific symptom to reach a possible diagnosis or recommendation."
Here's how to play: You scan the index to find a symptom you were experiencing -- dizziness, for example:

Emergency situation! You've hit the jackpot!

From there, it's simple: Follow the flowchart to self-diagnosis! The book really talks up these charts, saying, "The charts help you decide when it's important to call your doctor about a problem, when to go to a hospital emergency department immediately, or when to take care of the problem yourself at home."

But here's the best part: This game can't be won. You never landed on that last option, where it might recommend, "Just pop a few Advil, and you'll be right as rain by the morning!" The best you could hope for was, "See your doctor immediately!" Nine times out of 10, you got saddled with, "Emergency situation! Call local emergency number! Possibilities include sty, heart attack, SIDS, or Three M Syndrome!" You'd be in denial. "No way," you'd say. You'd run through the flowchart again and again, hoping you had exaggerated your responses or followed the wrong arrow. The game ended when you'd inevitably break out in a cold sweat, panic, beg your mom and dad to take you to the hospital, get denied, and go to bed resigned to fate, convinced that the concerned face of your stuffed monkey, Pete, would be the last thing you'd ever see.

Nowadays, they have all these newfangled self-diagnosis tools anyone with an Internet connection can access. They have links to all possible implications of your symptom, alternative remedies, message boards about the symptom, and entire communities founded on real or imagined disease. It is truly amazing and in my experience, often a better resource than your physician.

But where's the fun in that? 

On my next trip home, I'm hijacking my family's copy of this book so I can be a hit at parties. Heck, you could probably call me for (mostly unsolicited) medical advice now and get similar accuracy! I'm pretty sure my PayPal link shows up on here.



DEAR INTERTRON: A Letter to Grandpa

My grandfather died recently. We were rather close. I wrote a letter to him the night before he died, stamped and addressed it, and was ready to send it off in the mail the morning my dad called to break the news. I'm kicking myself for not writing and sending it earlier as I had planned to, but it will make me feel better to put it out into the blogosphere. I had handwritten it, but here is the transcript in its entirety.


Dear Grandpa,
I wanted to write you to say goodbye as I can't be there and I know how hard it is for you to talk on the phone right now. As I contemplate what I'll write, I walk myself through a lot of memories.

I remember playing you in HORSE on the miniature plastic basketball goal at my parents' house. I remember your praise when I won the "jackpot" on your slot machine as well as your endless supply of nickels to keep the thing running. I remember how you told us cousins to keep it down in the basement. I remember rolling down the backyard hill at your old house. I remember the generous gifts you and Grandma showered on us at birthdays and Xmas, no matter the cost. I remember the time you scolded Devin and me for picking a bunch of flowers out of your yard in an ill-fated attempt to make a perfume for April. I remember how you took care of Colin when he got poison ivy all over his legs, covering him in calamine with your bare hands. I remember waking up in the middle of the night to sounds of a train and asking Grandma if you were working on it. I remember interviewing you about your childhood for a school paper on the Great Depression. I remember creaking floors, a dishwasher running, and orange rolls early in the morning. I remember sitting on your couch covered in blankets and struggling to stay awake even though you were watching golf. I remember how you always had snacks waiting for us and how you started making me macaroni and cheese at every family gathering once I stopped eating meat. I remember you slipping me rolls of quarters to do laundry in college. I remember always having at least five options for dessert, be it pudding, ice cream, or pies, after every meal. I remember never leaving your house without a cold pop to drink on the way home. I remember your laughter when you opened an Xmas gift from my family, a pair of shoes, one shoe at a time. I remember seeing your face in the crowd at basketball games, piano recitals, swim meets, and graduations. I remember calling you every other weekend after I moved to San Francisco and begging you to come visit. More than anything, I remember simply your quiet, stern, selfless presence in our lives growing up, and I'm not sure what life will be like without it.

Reading through these memories will, I hope, bring a smile to your face, and that is how I'd like to bid you farewell. I love you!


P.S. Sorry for my handwriting; I know you always said it was horrible.




I Am a Dickhead

This is officially the catchiest song ever, but I feel a little guilty listening to and enjoying it so much. Why? Because I'm pretty sure it's talking about me and possibly my friends. So I've decided to go through the lyrics (except the chorus, obviously) and evaluate each statement. Bear with me.

KEY: A rating of "T" means "this is true about me," "I wish this were true about me," or "I agree." A rating of "F" means "this is false about me" or "I disagree." If I feel explanations are necessary, they will follow each answer in parentheses.

"Got on the train from Cambridgeshire" T (I ride the train a lot, albeit not in England)

"Moved down to an East London flat" T (I think they're talking about hip neighborhoods and/or cities, so I'm pretending San Francisco is the same thing)

"Got a moustache" F

"and a low-cut vest" T

"Some purple leggings" T

"and a sailor tat" T (vegan is just as dickhead-y as sailor, I think)

"Just one gear on my fixie bike" F

"got a plus one here for my gig tonight" T (I'm the plus one, actually)

"I play synth" T

"We all play synth" T (a lot of us do)

"20-20 vision, just a pair of empty frames" F

"Dressing like a nerd although i never got the grades" F (I did get the grades)

"I remember when the kids at school would call me names" T

"Now were taking over their estates, whoa" F (I don't even know what this means)


"Polaroid app on my iPhone" T (I have some antique-photo app, which is probably even worse)

"taking pictures on London Fields" T (Dolores Park counts, right?)

"up on the blog so everyone knows we're having new-age fun with a vintage feel" T

"coolest kids at a warehouse rave" T (I wish)

"exclusive list -- look, there's my name" T (again, I wish)

"I got in... You couldn't get in" T (I do get in a lot)

"never bought a pack of fags; I only roll my own" F (I'd be the sloppiest cigarette-roller in history; also, smoking is bad for your health, kids)

"plugging in my laptop at the Starbucks down the road" F (I hate coffee)

"say I work in media; I'm really on the dole" F

"I'm the coolest guy you'll ever know, whoa" F


"Loafers with no socks" T (dude, seriously, what is wrong with this look? I love it)

"Electropop meets southern hip hop" T (sounds like something I would like)

"Indeterminate sexual preference" F

"Something retro on my necklace" T

"Basically, I'm a part-time blogger" T

"and I design my own jewelry line; it's like a mix of religious iconography kind of with a Saved by the Bell vibe" F

"I organize a vegan crunk night" T (I'm going to start one now)

"Uh, yeah, I'm currently writing my own magazine, and it's all about my balls" F

"We're putting on this rave in an abandoned mosque, and all the proceeds are going to that thing that happened in Africa or the Middle East or whatever" F (this appalls me, actually)
Final score: 20 true, 13 false. So, apparently, I am overwhelmingly a dickhead. But hey, at least I am cool! EAT IT.

Want to take the dickhead quiz? Let me know your results!



Gerbin': An Update

Ladies and gentlemen, we have had two readers step up to the plate with different but somewhat related solutions to the gerbin' problem. Anonymous (way to take credit for your part in solving the most pressing mystery of our time) says this:
The Gerbins were a group of Belgian exiles who sought refuge in Germany in the early 1920's. They formed a few small, tight knit communities in the Koln/Bonn region of North Eastern Germany, not too far from the Belgian border. Being such a small group, they had little cultural impact on the region, however they did have a minor culinary contribution which I'm actually surprised to hear mention of outside of Germany. This dish is in fact the Belgian derivative of the well known German Pancake. From what I've been able to glean from century old recipe books passed down through my family for generations, the main difference was the batter, not the preparation. While the specifics are hotly contested, it seems that the consensus was the use of Belgian brewing yeast in the batter, creating very thick and yeasty pancakes that were so light that they were not dense and heavy like their German counterparts.
Wow, I don't know how he or she knows this, but our Anonymous is a veritable wellspring of knowledge!

By way of another possible answer to this problem, KR links me to this Wikipedia article and adds, "It's just a twisted way of saying 'German pancakes.'"

The good news is we have possible answers. The bad news is... I was really hoping for something a little juicier. Perhaps we could believe that the Gerbins are a race of Belgian, inbred, half-pig, half-human gentle giants in hiding, still hunted to this day by the CDC because they're believed to have concocted the cure for the common cold out of midwifery and local herbs.

Either way, Gerbin' pancakes are a real thing. Go out and try some today! The more you know.

Those look gerbin' delicious.



Gerbin': A Treatise

I went to Inverness, California, last weekend to visit M and V. They suggested going to the Inverness Town Fair, which became my top priority after seeing this sign advertising it:

This one's going to be a rager.

In addition to the other obvious draws -- epic games and mystical magic among them -- was the promise of a "gerbin' pancake breakfast." I had to know what "gerbin'" meant. M and I practiced using it in sentences, replacing a multitude of words:
"Can I get some gerbin' water back here?"
"I'm so tired; I can't wait to get home and gerb."
"I guess we should just have some tea and gerbinate tonight."
"Let's rent Gerbinator Salvation tonight!"
"I gerb you, girl. I'm so happy to be up here gerbin' around with you."
We went to bed laughing until our sides hurt and dreaming of frolicking gerbins, whatever they are, eagerly anticipating the next morning's big reveal.

The next day, we did, in fact, attend the fair. We saw canes with fabric heads on them and baskets made of dried kelp. We looked at books about astrology, reflexology, nudity, art, and plants. We encountered a stage and a flea market, where I acquired a cornucopia basket for 50 cents. We accepted the cinnamon-sugary fried confections of which I have forgotten the name from the Hispanic ladies. We even passed the big, hulking lumberjacks who were spraying pancakes onto a griddle from some sort of batter-dropping contraption and cooking them up... but there was not a single mention of the sacred word. No signs pointing to gerbin' pancakes or a gerbin' breakfast or a gerbin' anything. We were too afraid to ask the gerbin' lumberjacks what specifically was gerbin' about the fair. We didn't want to sound like idiots; what if we had dreamed the whole thing?

We went back. We had not made it up.

This is a real thing, but why?

Naturally, I have a lot of questions:
  • Is that apostrophe for real? GerbinG
  • If so, how does one gerb?
  • Can anyone conjugate that for me?
  • If the apostrophe is a mistake or trying to be cute, is it slang for "German"? For "gerbil"?
  • Can it only be applied to breakfasts and/or pancakes?
  • If Gerbiny is a country, do you refer to its natives as Gerbese?
  • Do seeds gerbinate?
  • Is it an ancient, foreign, forgotten cuss? "Go gerb yourself!"
  • Can you get rid of gerbs by washing your hands?
I sought my old friend Google. I searched for "gerb," "gerbin," "gerbin'," "gerbing," "gerbin pancakes," "gerbin breakfast," "gerbin pancake breakfast," and all permutations and combinations thereof. Nothing.

Can you help? What do you think it means? And most important, can we bring this word into common parlance?



Goodbye, 'Tron Tuesdays

So I've slacked on this feature enough that I think it's time to call it quits. I feel a lot of pressure to round up new Internet stuff on Tuesdays, so a lot of times, I don't give it my best effort because I have -- what? a day? -- to get it all together. So from now on, I'll post Intertron round-ups whenever I feel like it. Deal with it.

But to take the sting away, here's a few goodies:

1. Gala Darling's post on Gay and Katie Hendricks, relationship experts. I'll admit I skipped the videos for the more concise written part, the Seven Relationship Principles and Magic Moves (you know I like the sound of that).

2. My new favorite Web comic. A peek:

Really small, but even more impetus for you to go check out her site.

3. I think I like to be preachy to men for some reason. Here are a few things to do right. I don't really get the Macaulay Culkin thing, but whatever. N.B., Mom, you probably don't want to read these.

And that's all I've got. I can't even follow my own rules about posting five things. So on we trudge, sporadically but freely. Expect the next post WHENEVER I FEEL LIKE IT.



Things I Have Ruined in the Past Month

One drinking glass: shattered
Two wine glasses: shattered
One champagne glass: shattered
A few jars: let food spoil in them

One rug: wine-stained

Four pairs of tights: got runs
A few shirts, a dress, and a hoodie: let a Sharpie pen go through the wash

My First Earthquake show at Bottom of the Hill: fell down, had to be escorted home (apparently)

I lost my balance shortly after this photo was taken.

Anything I'm forgetting?



How To Become a DJ

The title of this post is misleading. I don't know how to become a DJ.

I only want to be a DJ because yesterday I came up with the best MC name ever: DJ Hammercorn.

Why? Because of this equation:

Hammer + Unicorn = Hammercorn

In pictures:



My logo would be a white silhouette of a unicorn head with a hammer instead of a horn on a black background. Or maybe a mallet. Depends what would look best. This is the best reason I've come up with to date actually to learn Illustrator instead of just languishing my way through projects that require it in a laborious and time-consuming manner.

 Kind of like this, except less stupid-looking. And white. And a hammer. Okay, nothing like this.

I know this is the best idea ever because the Intertron says it does not exist yet.

Do you know how to be a DJ? What is your DJ name, or what would it be?



'Tron Tuesday 7/27/10

I have not been regular in any way. But now is the time to change all that. I think. Step one: 'Tron Tuesday!

1. Dear boys, dudes, bros, men, and males of all ages and creeds,
Are you in awe of ladies' biology and connection to nature? Have you ever wondered what it's like to be reminded of the circle of life every month? I think this is supposed to be art, but for the right price, I'm sure you could at least rent the best invention ever: the menstruation machine. It allows men to experience the bleeding and cramps of the girls' monthly cycle. Now, if they could just add mood swing and bloating simulators.

2. In my last post, I did a lot of talking to the ladies. In case the menz are still feeling neglected in spite of that miracle of a machine above, here's another Intertron bonbon for you, especially the Single Male Programmer Types who are looking for ladyfriends. It's about your apartment:
It's a vicious circle: your apartment looks like Lonely Larry's Despair Emporium, so every time a girl looks at it, a slow, cold wind blows through her mind--she might sleep with you anyway, but the key word there is anyway. And so you're lonely, and so your apartment looks like an advertisement for a suicide hotline. Inner and outer are related, they cannot help but be.
3. Have I mentioned how much I adore The Middle Finger Project? She's inspiring in a kick-ass rather than smarmy way. Now, I've been hearing many friends express the dream-zapped sentiment, and I've been doing some thinking along those lines as well, but this article might make you start to take a little more life responsibility.

4. Somewhat in line with the last point, if you need a push being productive, here is an online timer that divides each half hour into 25-minute spurts of work and five minutes of rest/lunch/Facebook time. This is called the Pomodoro Technique (who knew?). I've used it today, and it seems to have been working so far.

5. "Is that your blood?" "Oh! Yes... some of it."

Have a nice week, my lovelies. Stay tuned for more musings and ramblings this week.




I've been doing some thinking about the words "girl" and "woman." At what age does one stop being a girl and start being a woman? Is there some kind of weird step in between? Why don't I feel the same way about "boy" and "man"?

I am pretty sure my mind does not work correctly, but I tend to associate the word "woman" with what seem to me to be stereotypically grown-up, mature activities and behaviors: Women get married. Women cover their grays with Nice 'n Easy by Clairol. Women eat yogurt. Women go to the symphony and the opera. Women never put out on the first date. Women drink chardonnay and know how to waltz. Women wear sensible pumps and blazers to the office. Women schedule their days in BlackBerrys and Filofaxes. Women paint their bathrooms a nice shade of taupe. Women never leave the house without lipstick. Women write thank-you notes. Women use Olay and aren't in love anymore. Women write checks. Women read Danielle Steel and Dean Koontz. Women never miss a birthday.

To my consciousness, girls, on the other hand, much like Cyndi Lauper, just want to have fun: Girls fall off their stilettos. Girls don't know what they want. Girls dance on tables. Girls wear knee socks and drink Bacardi. Girls shop at Forever 21. Girls text all the time. Girls live in apartments. Girls eat takeout and watch YouTube. Girls fall in love with boys, men, other girls, life, lust, and laughter. Girls take photos of themselves and their friends. Girls paint their own toenails. Girls flake on plans. Girls tell secrets and lie to people's faces. Girls go shopping and spend too much money. Girls sleep in instead of going to church. Girls go to rock shows. Girls wait tables and accidentally explode things in their microwaves. Girls need rescued.

I remind myself of my younger brother, who used to (and still might) call every female, ages 1 to 92, a girl. He'd say, "I'm going to help that girl cross the street." My mom would be like, "Oh, that octogenarian 'girl' over there?" Although I share a few qualities with women, in my brain, I still picture myself as a girl, and out loud, I still call myself a girl. I remember the first time a kid called me "ma'am"; I was 15, and I didn't think he was talking to me at first, but I was the only person near the beach ball he had knocked out of the swimming pool, so I tossed it back to him, pondering the gravitas of this event. I was startled but eventually decided it had to have been a fluke. I'm not a "ma'am," I thought. I'm not so distinguished as that. I feel weird when someone calls me a woman, even in a compliment ("You are a beautiful woman"), like I haven't done anything to merit that title.

I occasionally call myself and my (female) peers "ladies" if we are being particularly fancy, but that's as far as it goes. I call males "boys" if they are very young and "men" if they are very old, but in between these age extremes, the two terms are interchangeable.

If I start calling myself a woman, do I grow up, or does it work the other way around? When I reach a certain age, will I start being able to accept being called a woman? Why does my mind pigeonhole you, me, and all women everywhere? What are the best terms to use? Am I the only one with such a word-association problem?



'Tron Tuesday 7/6/10

Hi hi hi. No, it's still Tuesday, which is totally different from Wednesday. I'm sorry I've abandoned the blog, more or less, for the past two weeks. I've been insanely busy, but I am having a blast. Perhaps you'll read about the past two months or so in my memoir someday. But while you're here, let's do a 'Tron Tuesday:

1. An open letter to men by superbabe Christina Hendricks of Mad Men in Esquire. I don't really watch this show, but this letter is a basic summation of what I, too, would like men to know. Pro tips: Remember what we like, we want you to order scotch, and marriage changes very little. I would remove the Facebook item and suggest that real men eat dessert.

2. Story of my life.

3. Having trouble sleeping? Can't relax? Need to tune out your thoughts? Wish you had a box fan or noise machine to drown out noisy street traffic and hollering crackheads outside your second-floor city apartment? Turn up some Rainy Mood (FREE), and turn down your insomnia.

4. 'Tis the season for street fairs around here. The Superhero Street Fair is not quite up my alley, but if you're into superheroes (like, really into them outside of just Batman, Superman, +c.) and live in San Francisco, check it out this weekend.

5. Remember Daria? I am not exaggerating when I say it is my favorite show ever. I used to watch reruns of it every day when I had to babysit my younger siblings over the summer. Well, some genius wrote up some dating tips with the perspective from that show, and it is genius. Are you a Stacy? A Brittany? I'm probably a Quinn, sad to say.

And that's all I have. Got something better?



A Pursegasm

Hey, remember when I blogged about lightening my load? You'll recall that it was a colossal failure.
My wallet would barely fit in the newer, smaller purse, much less my phone, keys, or essential day planner. My back felt much better immediately, but I couldn't enjoy it because I was busy trying to carry my credit cards and IDs in my pockets (in the rare event that I was wearing pants), playing Tetris with my purse contents, and wondering where my chapstick went.

So I went back to toting luggage everywhere. My back hurts, and I'm feeling more hunchbacked and arthritic by the day, but at least I know I've got all my necessities on me at all times.

But my trusty yellow carryall has certainly seen better days. It's at least a year and a half old, and the faux leather is starting to crack and turn a weird color. The inner pockets are shot, and a slurry of sand, dirt, hairpins, and leaked hand sanitizer lines the bottom.

Why is this timely? Because Gala Darling turned me on to Deux Lux, where I found this beauty:

Come to mama.

I want this purse so hard. I can't stop thinking about it. My mouth waters at the larger tote size. My heart rate skyrockets for the pink glitter. My eyes roll back in my head when I contemplate the hearts -- the shiny, 3D hearts! Three of them! fhewuafgeryugtrehfjsndjsvnfheiahgregdf.........

Anyway, at $80, it's not too terribly pricey, and I'm saving up as we speak. Deux Lux has a ton of cute stuff, though, so go check it out, and even get one for your fly self. Just don't choose this color and style, or I'll have to cut you.



The Great Hair-Curler Tragedy of 2000

My 14th year was tumultuous for me in many ways: I lost a bunch of friends, moved on to the seemingly greener pastures of high school, and had my first boyfriend. But there was one change that affected me more than all others. This is its story.


The date is May 2000. The eighth-graders have been tasked with putting on a program celebrating the 20th century. We separate into groups and are assigned a decade. My group receives 1900. Our theatrics representing the decade consist of holdovers from the Victorian era. I play the part of a dance instructor (waltz, I think) brought into a house to teach two young girls (other classmates) how to dance properly. As we prepare -- writing scripts, practicing our lines, choosing costumes, building sets -- the discussion of what the girls should do with their hair is broached. We agree to shower the night before, put our wet hair up in a high ponytail, and set the ponytail ends with curlers. The effect was supposed to look something like this:


So the night before, I follow the plan. I shower, carefully lathering, rinsing, and repeating my long, stick-straight, shiny blond hair. This hair is my pride and joy. It took three years to grow down to my waistline. I spent most of my eighth-grade year painstakingly braiding, twisting, and knotting it into a fresh new hairstyle every day, from Pippi Longstocking-esque braids to dozens of little ponytails all over my head. One of my teachers even called me Princess Leia. I gather all this hair into an elastic on top of my head. Then I discover that the only curlers we had in the house (none of the hair belonging to the females in my household was able to hold much curl, so we didn't invest) were for one of my dolls. They are pink and about half an inch in diameter each, and they have tiny teeth like combs have, but much shorter. So I wrap thin strands of hair around 85 curlers or so, tuck a bandanna around it to keep flyaways at bay, and go to bed.

The next morning, I'm going through my usual getting-ready routine -- eating cereal, brushing teeth, washing face, agonizing over new zits -- and I begin to unravel the curlers -- or, I try to begin to unravel the curlers. Much of my hair is still damp, and the curlers made for doll's hair are irrevocably tangled in a rat's nest at the crown of my head. My efforts are fruitless, and tears come to my eyes, so I call my mother in to help. She does no better and after about 20 minutes suggests we use scissors to cut them out.

"NOOOOO!!!!" I cried, "not my beautiful hair, my only characteristic that anyone ever compliments!"

I was inconsolable as we tore the curlers out of my hair one by one, each emitting a horrid ripping sound that echoed in my head all day. We pulled out enough hair to make wigs for two bald infants. I zombied through the rest of the day, preoccupied by the loss of my very identity. That evening, my mom -- my own flesh and blood! -- took me to Great Clips, where they cut my hair into a bob so uneven and not what I asked for that it took me an hour to part it each morning.

Thus began my second disastrous love affair with short hair, in which I spent a lot of time dyeing my hair a new color every month and looking butch.


We've all had bad hair days. Tell me about your biggest hair calamities (or any other notable mishap).



Blog Fail

Hi guys,
Sorry I have been MIA. I've had crazy week upon crazy week and am hustlin' like Lil Wayne, so I haven't made the time to blog. Please accept my humblest apologies, and look forward to regular posting starting next week.


Getting an Early Start

I have another funny story from my past to share with you. It's coming to you secondhand because I actually have no recollection of it (as is the case with much of my life). When I was in Indiana laughing with my parents over past hilarity, my father told me this story:

When I was in first grade, my dad, a police officer, always made me lunch when he got home from working the night beat. One morning, he came home as usual and packed me something I loved: a tuna salad sandwich. But a short time after he went to sleep, he woke with a jolt and the frightening thought that he had forgotten to put a drink in my lunchbox. So he stumbled out of bed, half-asleep, to the darkened breezeway, where my family keeps the pop, bottled water, juice boxes, +c., grabs a drink, and tosses it into my lunchbox. Presumably, I wake up, eat some cereal, have my mother give me a hairstyle (my younger brother always threw a tantrum if she just left it alone), and take my lunch to school.

The next day around lunchtime, my father receives a telephone call from a woman he knows at the principal's office.
"Do you know what you packed your daughter for lunch?"
"Uh, a tuna sandwich, some carrots, and probably a cookie or something."
"Anything else?"
"Oh, a juicebox."
"That wasn't a juicebox," she says. "That was a single-serving box of red wine."
Dad's first response: "Red wine with tuna?!" After realizing the magnitude of the event, he offers to come pick it up.
She laughs and says, "It's already been taken care of."

Can you imagine such a scene happening in our modern era? If my father hadn't known the school faculty so well (he volunteered for the Chili Festival, shifts at the school cafeteria, room parenting, and a lot more to embarrass me, or so I thought at the time) and if this happened today, the school would have called Child Protective Services.

So if you've been lucky enough to witness the way I handle an alcoholic beverage or even to get iced by me, this should explain a few things.



'Tron Tuesday 6/15/10

Hello! Hola! Bonjour! Greetings, Earthlings! I want to tell you how fabulous the past week has been for me: very. Now let's get down to brass tacks and tackle that beast we know as the Intertron:

1. The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is exactly what it sounds like. Each entry makes you go, "Awww, bummer," and then you laugh because you realize how apt it is. My only complaint: Please organize it alphabetically!

2. This site is merely a feed of tweets from tea-partiers, but the name cracked me up.

3. The beautiful Agent Lover has a great post on the shoe pyramid (like the food pyramid, only with shoes and also upside-down). She is a fancy lady who wears high heels all the time. I feel a bit embarrassed because I can't figure out where most of my shoes (T-straps, non-Ugg boots, slip-on flats, Chuck Taylors) would fit into the triangle; I sure hope it ain't with the rest of the comfy ones, i.e., "you better go barefoot like Brit Brit in a gas station bathroom before you wear those nightmares."

4. I know I plugged it last week, but this is actually the week my friend and co-worker AF's show opens (Thursday!). Get your fly self down to Noma Gallery, and see his marvels. If you're rich, buy something -- Lord knows he could use the money.

5. Do you appreciate kittens' capacity for evil? Or do you just love cute things? Then watch this:

Show me something I haven't seen, good people of the Intertron!



Don't Be Afraid to Sing

I need to ask y'all a personal question: Do you like to sing karaoke?

Rats, somebody beat me to this million-dollar idea.

Because I do. A lot. Last night, I went to a karaoke bar for a bit, waited for them to play my song, got bored, and left. But when there isn't an enormous queue, karaoke combines a few of my favorite things: singing at the top of my lungs, dancing like a maniac, and drinking copious amounts of booze.

True karaoke lovers are hard to find, and most of them are actually decent singers. Folks who don't have a professional-level voice tend to be embarrassed or even intimidated when they attend karaoke, so they require more drinks than seem humanly possible for them to consume before they can get onstage. But anyone who has ever heard me talk knows that my voice is not suited for anything, so I would like to share with you my professionally unqualified tips for enjoying your karaoke experience without needing to incur serious liver damage:
  • Choose your setting carefully. How comfortable are you singing in front of a bar filled with strangers? Not very? Try one of those Japanese-style karaoke lounges where you pay an hourly rate to rent a room with only your friends (or still strangers, depending on your typical going-out modus operandi). Also hit up this kind of establishment if you can't decide which song to sing: The remote-controlled system makes it easy for you to choose many songs and then skip or delete them later if you want. You can graduate to onstage performances in crowded bars further on down the road.
  • Pick a song everybody knows and loves. This increases the likelihood that no one will hear how awful your voice sounds because the audience will be singing along, plus you'll know most of the words and the tune. In my opinion, you really can't go wrong with any '80s pop song. Later, when you feel more comfortable (or drunker), you can choose a more obscure song. Here's my list of go-to karaoke songs:
    1. Journey: "Don't Stop Believin'"
    2. Michael Jackson: "The Way You Make Me Feel"
    3. Meat Loaf: "I Would Do Anything for Love"
    4. Madonna: "Open Your Heart"
    5. Britney Spears: "Womanizer"
    6. Guns 'n' Roses: "Sweet Child of Mine"
    7. Def Leppard: "Pour Some Sugar on Me"
    8. Heart: "Crazy on You"
    9. Sir Mix-a-Lot: "Baby Got Back"
    10. Prince: "When Doves Cry"
  • Put on a show. Nobody is judging you, and if someone is, they have not consumed enough beer yet. Have fun with it. Dance if you feel like it. Yell into the microphone. Send a shout-out to your mother. Laugh. Pretend you're a superstar; this is your chance (unless you make it big in reality television)!
So get out there, and sing your heart out! Maybe I'll see you from the stage...



Tin Can Alley

At my small Catholic grade school, we had a more or less yearly event called "Pioneer Day." The boys put on flannel, suspenders, and straw hats, and the girls got dressed up in their mothers' skirts (so they would be long enough) and old baby bonnets. During the day, we rotated through such pioneer-themed activities as candle making, leather tooling, square dancing, and taffy pulling. It was at least more interesting than class.

We had almost this much fun.

In second grade, one of the educational activities was playing kick-the-can with an actual tin coffee can. Now, I've never been athletically inclined, so I'm half-running rather aimlessly and occasionally waving my foot in the direction of the scuffle (to make it look like I was participating, see) in the midst of a bunch of rambunctious kids hyped up on taffy, trying to hit their feet against a hard metal object with sharp edges. Great idea, right, Parent-Faculty Association?

So I'm shuffling around, growing a bit excited as the can comes close. I make my move to kick the can and proceed to trip on my mother's long skirt. I fall flat on my face as the can-kicking continues around me. As I lift my head to get up from the ground, Brent Rayford kicks the can right into my forehead.

Did it hurt? A little. But the shocker came once I stood up: I felt sweat pouring down my face, so I go to wipe it with my hand, but it's not sweat -- it's blood. I faint.

I wake up in the nurse's office. They've called my dad and are having him come get me. He takes me to the hospital, where I get three stitches. Dad doesn't think I should go back to school, but I want to -- to show everyone how tough I am and how they are all pansies for switching from a can to a soccer ball as soon as I was injured and also to receive the apology I knew Brent Rayford would give.

That apology never came. We spent six more years at that school together before parting ways, and although we were on civil terms, I still have not forgiven Brent Rayford. If I ever see him again, I'll show him my small scar and then punch him in the face.



'Tron Tuesday 6/8/10

Hi! Here is a really, really truncated 'Tron Tuesday. I'm under lots of deadlines at work, and I'm going to see a show tonight, so I only had time today to come up with two things:

1. My buddy AF is part of this art series. Find him at NOMA in a couple of weeks until the middle of July! His work is really awesome and interesting, and -- excuse me for tooting my own horn here -- he has asked me lots of questions for inspiration.

2. My dear friend RG says the "R" must stand for "real" because nobody keeps it real like R. Kelly:

The good news is that going back to Indiana this past weekend gave me loads of fuel for posts this week, so you'll be hearing more from me as early as tomorrow!



Use Your Words

The Wernicke's area is the language G-spot in your mind. It's the part of your brain that processes written and spoken language coming from outside your body (its counterpart, the Broca's area, is linked to your own speech production). The Wernicke's area is linked to how you understand, recognize, and interpret language and semantics. It normally looks like this:

Mine, however, when I'm listening to someone speak or reading a piece of writing, looks like this:

I should have majored in linguistics, probably, but at least in my current field, I'm able to come into contact with language and fellow language-lovers on a daily basis. It used to be that I wrote and edited because I was good at it and I knew all the rules. Now, I love digging into how language works and why it works, and lately I've been a lot looser about those restrictions. Language is a living, breathing, sacred, constantly evolving entity to me.

I have an issue with language. It affects every part of me -- my mood, my outlook, my muscular control. When anyone speaks or writes in a repetitive, cliched, uninteresting way, it makes me want to punch him or her a little, even more than when I spot a glaring comma error or a misspelling. But when someone uses language cleverly, be it with an unusual noun modifier, a large vocabulary, or an outdated expression ("everything's jake," "what's the rumpus?" etc.), it turns me on. Just reading the Wikipedia article about the Wernicke's area gave me a brain boner: "unimodal auditory association in the superior temporal gyrus anterior to the primary auditory cortex"?! I don't even know what that means, but can we make out? Give me those big, rarely used words, those complex-compound sentences, baby. Use a gnarly bit of slang in an otherwise prim and proper sentence. Put two mismatched words together. Give me a synecdoche, a hysteron-proteron, a zeugma. Yoda, speak like. Whatever, just get creative with what comes out of your face!

Is my Wernicke's area simply overactive, or does language have a similar effect on you?


Blowing... Something, I Guess

Last week, I went to the Walgreen's across the street from my apartment in search of razor blades and cat litter. I procured the blades and on my way to the pet aisle stumbled across this:

It's a bubble blower.

Its shape did not enter into my decision to purchase it. I had to have it because, as you may or may not know, I have a serious penchant for all things with Hello Kitty on them:

Courtesy of the awesome SE.

Since this past weekend held Memorial Day and barbecues are just asking for bubbles to be blown at them, I busted out this bad boy more than a few times. Every time, I had to field the question, "Is that a Hello Kitty dildo?"

A few things:
1. These are Hello Kitty dildos:

Technically, they're vibrators, so it's perfect for when I'm fantasizing about Keroppi.

2. If I were putting something this large inside me, something would be seriously wrong:

This is my forearm. I'm 5'9.

3. I would not leave something like this lying on the coffee table for all guests to see as they walk in the door, and I most certainly would not bring it out of my house to an outdoor event.

My other favorite thing about this Walgreen's is that one of its cashiers is named Ulysses. I think I'm in love.



'Tron Tuesday 6/1/10

The smartest business idea ever?

Hi, this is going to be a text-light post because I am feeling like crap today.

1. I already knew this, but if you're not convinced, read the 10 reasons it would rule to date a unicorn. Reason #7: They make okay parachutes.

2. A whole Tumblr full of hot guys reading books. You should submit a photo of you or some hottie you know reading a book. And by "submit," I mean "send to me so I can put it in my private porn stash with the photos of men's shoes."

3. If girls don't want to get with you and you're convinced it's because you're a "nice guy," you probably aren't. On a related note, SAC UP.

4. Cooking for Assholes is priceless even though the writer hardly makes a single thing that I can eat. The description of the blog (I added the asterisks):
"You suck at cooking. You f*ck up rice. You think Cayenne is that fat b*tch from around the way and Old Bay is the piece of sh*t that keeps calling the cops on you and your boys. Don't you think you would get some major action if you were able to pull off an edible culinary concoction? Follow these easy recipes and you will be swimming in the sea of love before you know it. Dap! "
5. Hilarity on Twitter. And also sadness. But if we can't laugh at sad things, life is not worth living.

Fill me in on your Intertron adventures! For now I am going home and going to bed.



Fixation Friday Is No More


You might have noticed that I did not post a Fixation Friday last week. I've decided to do away with it because I found myself not writing about things during the week so that I could fill up an FF post. I realized I would post more often and more in-depth if I didn't have to save these topics for a cursory paragraph in an end-of-the-week post. So you can expect more and longer posts throughout the week. I hope you're as excited about it as I am!



'Tron Tuesday 5/25/10

Hi! 'Tron Tuesday! Go!

1. What's even greener than Craigslist and Freecycle? Possibly Rentalic, where you can rent person-to-person. I'm going to see if anyone wants to rent my DVD collection (one copy each of Anchorman and The Protector) and charge by the hour.

2. I learned just yesterday what "icing" is. To sum up: It's a new drinking game in which you basically trick your "bros" into getting down on one knee and chugging a Smirnoff Ice. Ideally you want to ice your bro at the least appropriate time (think at work or a wedding) and in the most disgusting way possible (think a grape-flavored Ice left in a black car in the sun all day). A good question has been raised: Is icing only for bros? Can the ladies ice and be iced as well? At first, I was like, "THIS IS SO DUMB," but after thinking about it for a while, I want to play.

3. I already knew most of this info on veganism in this article in the SF Chronicle, but y'all might learn something or at least get a few recipes (near the bottom). It does, however, include a lot of restaurants I didn't know about... Anyone want to take me out for dinner?

4. The Middle Finger Project has this great article about "the lost art of quitting." From the article:
Quitting has become the equivalent of committing a sin.  It has turned into a moral issue of sorts; we stick with something, oftentimes for the principle of it, rather than the value of it.  And while that may score us brownie points from the integrity fairy, the truth is that it isn’t going to do much in terms of advancement.
Were you always taught never to quit? That it wouldn't look so good if those perseverance gods saw you failing to finish something? Whether that something was a painting that you messed up so badly you didn't even want to fix it anymore or your high school diploma, you're supposed to follow through, to stick with something to the end. In fact, such dedication is rewarded; think of football players who "tough it out" with an injury until the end of the game. How does that make sense with our natural human instinct of self-preservation?

It's not just a no-holds-barred, pro-quitting post. Most important, Ashley says, is our freedom to quit things that don't matter. If something does matter to you (your high school diploma, your piano lessons), then keeping your integrity and persevering will help you to come out stronger on the other side of a rough patch. You'll realize how much it mattered, and you'll be even happier you didn't quit something important than if you just stuck with it because "that's what you do."

5. Feeling down but don't think an ordinary affirmation will cut it? Sign up for Daily Drag Queen Affirmations for a liberal dose of fabulous every morning. Luckily, you can try before you buy, and you can find old ones on YouTube:

So... anyone want to take me out? I promise not to ice you... or do I?



The First Award I've Won since High School

When I was in high school, I was a total awards slut: "I know you thought I loved you, National Merit Scholarship, but sorry, I sort of just fell into bed with the Latin Club presidency last night and got Eiffel Towered by the University of Indianapolis Contest's Poetry and Creative Nonfiction categories, plus Indiana University's High School Journalism Institute has been sending me racy text messages."

But after graduation, I kind of stopped being the best overachiever ever to walk the grassy plains of the tri-state region, much less the world. So I didn't really win many awards and haven't again... until Friday.

This is big news, guys, which is why I canceled Fixation Friday today in lieu of a post about my recent honor. A huge thank you to Alone... with Cats for deeming me worthy of the Versatile Blogger Award as well as anyone who ever reads my blog. I started it as a way to update my family and friends back in the Midwest on my personal life, but then I realized it was unsustainable and it was way more entertaining to blog about popsicles, food poisoning, science, and fashion dilemmas. It ain't much, but I like writing it, and I like when you read it, so thanks! You're awesome.

This award apparently has no official certificate, website, ceremony, or even really qualifications (because if it did, I sure wouldn't have received it), but I understand it works in this manner:
  • Thank the person who gave you this award.
  • Share seven things about yourself.
  • Pass the award along to 15 bloggers whom you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic!
Done and done on the gratitude. Now, seven things about myself... I don't know if I can come up with an overarching theme on this except for "embarrassing stories." Since my brain lives at 3825 Memory Lane, Apt. WTF, enjoy this brief trip to its home, and perhaps gain an understanding of why I am so bizarre:

1. One time in sixth grade at a Steak & Shake after a swim meet, I decided to impress this guy I had a crush on from fourth grade through high school by eating one of those shriveled jalapeno peppers in the jar of "hot sauce" (more like spicy water, amirite?). I downed five glasses of water and nearly cried. I don't think he was impressed.

2. When I was in middle school, I made it my life's work to learn all of the lyrics to every rap song on the radio so that I could sing along at the North Deanery dances and look cool (I didn't look cool).

3. It was Cinco de Mayo in my college town, and it was precisely two months after I had turned 21. I went with a group to the Coliseum, where a friend was bartending. We ordered margarita after margarita and who knows what else?

Further evidence that the Earth is out to get me.

I finished the night by being unable to lift my head from where it had fallen on the wire table, crying for probably an hour over how I felt like nobody liked me, trying to order more beer, and doing a faceplant into a bush. That bush apparently was flowering at the time because the next morning, I blew my nose, and a flower came out into the tissue.

4. I ran away from home three times growing up. Every time, I wouldn't get more than a few blocks before my dad would roll up in the police cruiser and yell at me to get in the car. This would be followed by lectures from my parents on how to stop being an ungrateful little b*tch (not their words). Then I would hide in my room and cry at how unfair life was and write terrible child poetry in which I'd rhyme "dad" with "mad" and "sad." It's hilarious now, but at the time it seemed so very tragic.

5. Up until probably seventh grade, I played the most ridiculous games with my friends at recess. A lot of them involved one or more of us playing the parts of babies.
a) Castle Four Square: There were usually about eight of us. Half of us would hang in the 1 and 2 squares and be in the palace: the king, queen, prince, and (of course) a baby princess. The 3 and 4 squares would be the peasantry. The goal of the game was not actually to play four square -- that was more of an incidental occurrence. The objective was to advance into the palace by tricking the baby princess to come to the plebeian side. Why the princess would oblige is still a mystery; we all knew what was up.
b) Pirate Babies: When my friends and I were the first group of kids to get on the playground, we pretended it was a pirate ship... operated by babies. We all performed various imaginary pirate ship functions, but we never went ashore or attacked other ships (babies suck at a lot of things, most notably pirate ship operation). A friend and I, however, did the weather channel: One of the slides was slick enough that we could hold onto the overhead beam above where you'd sit to go down the slide and walk on it like a treadmill, so that's obviously where we gave our extremely accurate weather report.
c) Coated Crusaders: We were a pack of superheros with ridiculous names (One friend was Donut while I had to be Peanut Butter -- UNJUST) and powers that were directly tied to the patterns on our jackets. When anyone got a new jacket, she lost her old abilities but gained new ones. I had a purple jacket with stripes on the inside, so my power was making a big jail around stuff. I think I got the raw end of this game.

6. I was kind of a big deal in spelling bees growing up. I made it to something major, like regionals, and lost on "succulent." Insignificant, you say? My fragile ego was shattered, I tell you.

7. My little brother had just been born, and a whole bunch of family members came over. I was the oldest, and only for a while, so I was used to being the center of attention. But there was a new baby (and a perfectly adorable one at that), and my dramatic five-year-old brain was envious. I concocted a harebrained plot to make people love me again: I immediately "contracted" a mysterious "illness" that left me unable to use my legs. This wasn't enough to attract the notice of the adults in the house, so I had no choice but to use my arms to pull myself around on the floor when I needed to get anywhere.

More effective than polio vaccinations.

Little did I know that the grown-ups were on to my little game the whole time and brought me some Baskin Robbins. Suddenly, I could walk! I was cured! Ice cream saved my life!


Now I'm supposed to name 15 (recently discovered?) bloggers who also deserve this award. Does anyone else feel like that's pushing it, like that's maybe too big of an arbitrary number? I'll try:

Agent Lover
Emily Nagoski: Sex Nerd

Crap, that's only 14. I guess it'll have to do. Feel free to print out, sign, and frame the certificate below:



'Tron Tuesday 5/18/10

This post comes after a rough weekend full of not enough sleep and too much booze at Bay to Breakers. I walked four miles in a masquerade mask and am still recovering. So this doesn't exactly have much of an Intertron-roundup feel to it and more of a look-what-I-saw-and-did-this-weekend feel:
Bay to Breakers is officially a footrace across the city, unofficially an excuse for anyone willing to wake up at 7:30 to put on a stupid costume, get drunk, and walk as far as possible along the race route before passing out. It's one of the quintessential San Francisco things I've wanted to go to since I've been here and never been able to before. It's definitely something I would recommend going to once, but I don't feel like I need to go again. A big group of us started at Hayes and Van Ness and continued to Hippie Hill, where we met up with a couple others. We ate burritos, landed in Buena Vista Park for a while, headed to a party where we didn't really know anyone, and then went to PS's house, where a wicked dance party ensued. There are photos, but they aren't so flattering to anyone, really.

Anyway, here's a funny video from over the weekend:



Fixation Friday 5/14/10

So! I had a pretty rough week, including missing work, arguments, cutting fingertips off AGAIN, dreaming of Swiss cheese, and having almost no food in the house. But I'm rallying some gratitude for this list of items that are making me happy this week:

1. Bridget, my family's dog. She was coming to her end, so they had her put down on Monday. I'm sad I couldn't see her in her last days. She was a very sweet basset hound, and she lived something like 14 or 15 years. More on her next week. As my aunt said, "R.I.P. ZIZZY!"

2. Paychecks. I am very, very, very grateful for paychecks this week. With paychecks, you can buy food! Pay bills! Do something fun with your friends!

3. Working out in the morning. I finally bit the bullet and did it, and you know what? It wasn't as bad as I had been building it up to be. It definitely wakes you up, and there's nothing to dread or back out of at the end of the day. Now if I can just learn to function on less sleep, we'll be set.

4. Columbo. I'm not sure whether I mentioned this before, but I have fond memories of watching this with my father when I was small, before my brother was born. My dad worked nights and took care of me during the day while my mom was at work. We spent a lot of time watching television, from Sesame Street and cooking shows on PBS to Columbo and Banacek. So I got the first two episodes (they're actually made-for-TV movies, which I did not know) on DVD from the library, and I was a little afraid that it was one of those things that is way more awesome in your memory. Luckily, it was still awesome. I appreciated it now more for its humor and Lieutenant Columbo's cigar tic, glass eye, constant fumbling for a pen, and simpleton act than for its mystery and good-guys-winning elements.

5. THIS SONG! Thanks to WJE for turning me on to CSS:

So that's it. Happy Friday! Have a nice weekend.