Friday, March 30, 2012


1. PG&E is tearing up my street. Judging by the rate they have finished up work on surrounding streets, they should be done sometime in late 2013. It's not really a big deal for me. I live on a street with an easement. Meaning: our garage is in the back of the house and there is enough room back there to park my car so that I, god forbid, don't have to park several blocks away to get to my house.

However, my dogs (sorry, I'm talking about my dogs again), who hate the sound of, well, pretty much everything but loud trucks in particular, have been barking the vast majority of the day. Fun times!

None of this would be happening if PG&E hadn't accidentally, ya know, blown up half of San Bruno.

Even more fun is the conversation with my mother. She really isn't old, by parent standards, but she says things lately that remind me distinctly of my grandmother. "I don't know why they can just go around tearing things up!" I then explained a quasi-government agency that provides necessities. "But electricity hasn't even been around that long." Would you like to go without it? "No..." Okay then.

(I also got caught in a discussion where I was explaining tort liability. "I don't understand how that girl that walked into the propeller can sue." I started to tell her about how she's not really suing the plane company and insurance and comparative negligence when I decided for my sanity I should probably stop. Moral of the story: don't go to law school. Ever. You are far better off blissfully unaware. If you do go, because you're a masochist, don't discuss it with your family. Ever.)

2. In other news: my friends and I went to pub trivia Wednesday night. And even though we were a team of three (with a little help from the table next to us on 3 questions) competing against monster teams of about 15, we won. The look on Chuck's face when it became apparent that we were going to be declared winners was priceless. We had hung tough, creeping into second at one point before falling to 3rd. I'd been expecting we'd get the best small team prize but a few fortunate questions in the final round (one involving horse races and one involving horse breeds) where points are doubled, and we somehow snuck into the lead. (Joe Versus the Volcano is the 3rd movie whenever they're looking for the 3 that Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan have been in together, you guys. And it's a cute movie.) That cut our bar tab in more than half. We were all a little shocked we won. We just go to play, have fun, kill some time on a Wednesday night. I'm not out to crush or kill, even though I'm competitive and like to correctly answer the questions. We don't whoop when we get something we're particularly proud of correct (pulling out of the recesses of my brain Roman god of metal working (Vulcan) when I knew immediately the Greek one (Hephaestus)), which is why the quiz master had a hard time identifying our team as the winners. For as much as Chuck teases me endlessly about the "random, useless, crap" in my brain, there is one place it comes in handy: pub trivia. Don't get me wrong though, it was a team effort and a couple of tapping their own recesses by Cheryl and Chuck definitely got us to where we were. I only wish this translated to my online trivia game, which I tend to be a bit woeful at. Still, a solid win, even in pub trivia, is nice.

3. I've been having all these horribly awkward run-ins at the gym. So I have avoided going for the past few days. Also my workout headphones broke and there is no way I am going to the gym without something to pretend I'm not at the gym, therefore I now have to wait for the ones I ordered to show up from Amazon.

I decided in place of going to the gym, I'd try a few OnDemand videos. First I knocked out 5 minute abs, as "core work" (sorry for the assy gym speak) is something I neglect. At the gym, I get in, do my cardio, get out. I know deep down that if I want things to actually change I have to do more weights and core work so I thought 5 minute abs would be a good place to start. And it was. I got done and thought, "Huh. That wasn't so bad." Someone forgot that you don't hurt right away! That the muscle pain sets in the next day! AHAHAHAHA! I've now been avoiding laughing for a 36 hours because holy geezus. It was a nice reminder that while I have plenty of breath anymore, I'm nowhere near in shape. Thanks, body! And genetics! AWESOME!

After that I did a yoga workout. I am not a yoga person. I (this will be completely unsurprising) find yoga people a little...ya know? They're like obnoxious quasi-hippies. It's culty. But I have never been accused of being flexible and yoga is basically just a whole bunch of stretching so I have occasionally given in and done it. The OnDemand program I have previously done, and which was a good pace for us beginners, was no longer available. I found this other one that was like morning wake up yoga and figure I'd give that a try. At first, when the blonde with not an ounce of fat on her lady started in with her "namaste", I thought my eyes were gonna get permanently stuck from rolling in the back of my head. But I decided, in the safety of my house, to just go with it and give in to the absurdity of it. I shook it out when she told me to shake it out. I mean, don't get me wrong, it was completely ridiculous. But it also appropriately kicked my ass. Lesson: sometimes if you don't fight things with your slightly uptight nature, you can have a good time and actually get a work out in. Look at me being all healthy and stuff!

I'm also on day five without soda. I don't think I'll be making it to day six.

Now I'm off, like all of you, to go buy megamillions tickets and spend the rest of the day fantasizing about what I'll do if I win. If you win can you just pay off my student loans? That'd be super helpful. If I win, I'll do the same for you. (Totally non-binding internet agreement, y'all!)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Deconstructing D.C.

I spent this past week in our nation's capital. It's the first time I ever had the pleasure of going to D.C. It was...nice? Ish? I guess?

Here's the deal: there's a reason large cadres of high schoolers go on educational trips there. They go, they see all the sights, they can say they've done it, and they never have to go back. Once you've seen every memorial, they aren't changing.

As my wise beyond her years stepsister said when I was debating between day drinking irresponsibility and seeing more museums on my last full day in the city, "Museums are full of a bunch of old shit that will still be there- hence why they're called museums..."

Monday, March 19, 2012


Apparently because I haven't left SF in a fair amount of time, and since I'm with my dad and thus don't have to take care of things and can just coast on this trip, I turn into a colossal idiot when traveling. Which is what I get for my dad bragging to his friends who we are traveling with that I'm the smartest person he knows. (He's obviously very biased.)

Unrelated to my idiocy I first have to deal with other people: I get stuck behind the middled aged Midwestern women going through security which just tortures my effective, planning self, who has already removed her shoes and put her laptop in it's own bin, while they dawdle with their shoes and hold up the line. Not that there was a line but they were sure as hell trying to create one. One of them had water IN her carry on, you guys. I mean COME ON! Have you not flown in the last decade? Gaaaah. As someone on Twitter who flies frequently said: you have to go into zombie zen trance mode to keep from being CONSTANTLY ANNOYED. For serious.

But then *I* turned into just a completely non-functioning idiot.

You all know I have a serious Dr Pepper addiction, right? When I pulled up the info about our Virgin American flight I discovered that they don't serve Dr Pepper, and since I of course had barely slept the night before our flight, I had to have one. I buy a 20 oz bottle at the airport store for $3 which is lol absurd but can't take liquids through security! Don't want the terrorists to win! Capitalism, y'all!

We get on the plane and get settled and seriously if you can fly Virgin, do. The in seat TVs make it feel like you're just channel surfing on a very small couch for a few hours and not stuck on a miserable flight. After I get settled and the seatbelt/operate electronics lights go off, I pull out my bottle of Dr Pepper. And of course I manage to have it explode ALL over me. I'm now covered in Dr Pepper about a half an hour into my 5 hour flight. I am amazing, you guys!

But it gets better! I at one point get up to use the bathroom, something I try to avoid on planes but I stupidly drank 2 cups of black tea before our flight. When I return, I notice the light is out on my fancy noise canceling headphones. They have a AAA battery in them that makes them work. So, since apparently my headphones are an old Nintendo, I take the battery out to shake it and put it back in. Except I somehow manage to drop the battery next to me. I'm in the window seat with my jacket shoved next to me and as I go to grab for the now dropped battery it of course slides down further and drops to the floor behind and next to me. I thought about asking the person behind me if they could grab it but frankly, I didn't feel like bothering anyone for a battery that obviously didn't work anymore anyway. Batting a thousand. I just start laughing at the absurdity of it.

I fortunately had a backup pair of headphones so I wasn't stuck with the sound of my own thoughts for the rest of the flight. (Yes, it's excessive traveling but I can't just wear the noise canceling ones out and on the off chance I actually work out on this trip I need the non-noise canceling ones too. Ya know how it goes...)

We get to the luggage carousel and my distinctive purple Swiss Army luggage drops down. I grab it and after everyone gets their luggage, we head off to find our driver. We're waiting at the curb for the driver to retrieve the van when I look down at the luggage tag and realize it's not my purple bag.

In all my travels I have never seen anyone with my bag. Now, I'm not naive enough to think I have the only purple luggage in the world, but seriously, I have never seen an identical bag come off the carousel before. I just assumed it was mine and grabbed it. I even looked at one of the pockets on the front and thought, "Huh. They were rough with my luggage, that stab mark wasn't there before." I also have this big pink luggage tag on my bag (it was a gift) and didn't even occur to me that it wasn't there as I'm being a world class spaz and am all kinds of out sorts, apparently. But as we're curbside and I look down at my luggage make the realization and say, "Uhhhhh this isn't my bag! I took the wrong luggage!"

Considering Dulles is a good half an hour drive from downtown D.C. it was a good thing that I noticed before we left the airport but I'm still a little panicky. What if the other party took my bag without realizing it? What if we have to swap bags? My dad takes the bag and goes back inside. He finds my bag sitting forlornly on the luggage carousel. He returned the luggage I mistakenly took to the counter, though no one was standing around waiting for it. So I got my bag back with as little hassle as possible.

I just...know better! I don't know how I turned all brain dead all of a sudden as soon as I left San Francisco but there it is. Nowhere near together, you guys, nowhere near...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I Can't Believe I'm Writing About the Olive Garden

But here it is.

Here's what happened, as short of a version as I can make it, in case you live somewhere without internet: A nice old lady in North Dakota wrote an entirely unironic and heartfelt review of the exciting new Olive Garden opening there. I have to admit my own bit of a chuckle when I got to the line "Instead of the raspberry lemonade she suggested, I drank water." It's adorable.

Then the internet got ahold of it and made it this THING, as the internet is known to do. THEN the food snobs that live in this city, did a review of our own Olive Garden because OMG we have one here in San Francisco too and how novel and quirky! That's when my head exploded a little bit and there were long Twitter conversations, the end result of which was basically I need to start a Tumblr called Weird Olive Garden Experiences, or: The Unbearable Sadness and l'ennui of Olive Garden.

All caught up? Okay. Now:

I didn't take internet glee in the initial review or chide it the way most of the internet did. Not that I'm above such snark, I'm obviously not. The lady reminded me of my grandmother and the way she reacted to things and I found it admirable that at her age she was keeping busy and churning out columns and that her review was straight forward and informative. What was there, really, to mock? You elitist kids and your locally grown, organic all natural farm to table food thought this was hysterical? Get over yourselves. Because guess what? The people in the midwest can't believe you'd go to Gary Danko (a restaurant I quite enjoy, btw) and drop what you do on tiny portions when you could go to the all you can eat pizza buffet for $10. It cuts both ways.

I also think that living in South Louisiana for a time gave me a fair amount of perspective, and some insight into the way life is for people who don't have constant access to locally owned and operated restaurants.

In a perfect world would we be able to support a locally operated business with values who is taking time, effort, and energy to make us a meal? Absolutely. That'd be great. But if there's one thing we know: the world is far from perfect. And sometimes you're visiting family in Grand Forks and the Olive Garden is THE best option. Sometimes you're on business in a place you're not familiar with and the Olive Garden/Red Lobster/Outback are comforting places where you understand the menu and can feel inconspicuous. Not everyone is lucky enough to live in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago or New York and have access to CIA grads trying out sous vide recipes with locally sourced meat from grass fed cows. Sometimes you work in an office park and the nearest choices are between Flingers and Flickers. The vast majority of the country goes to a chain restaurant and eats perfectly serviceable food in relaxed settings. And as food snobby as even the best San Franciscan can be, try to get into the Cheesecake Factory in Union Square on a weekend without a three hour wait.

I'm far more bothered by the utter douchery of the SF review than of Marilyn Hagerty's no nonsense take. They are not so above it. They even admit to having grown up with it. I actually didn't grow up with it. I, even as a kid, looked at a place like Sizzler as the most bizarre and novel experience. We used to tease my brother's best friend for saying that was his favorite. All the LOLZ. Essentially: I was a food snob, by breeding, before I even knew what that was. (Yes, I had an extremely privileged and spoiled upbringing. I am aware.) I got that knocked out of me when I went to college.

New Orleans may be one of the best food cities in the world, Baton Rouge on the other hand is actually known as a testing market for new chain menu items and even new chain concepts, it's so thoroughly The Middle. I once read that displaced New Orleans natives after Katrina had a very hard time adjusting to all the strip malls and chain restaurants after being used to their neighborhood places. I completely understand that. I spent my first year in college getting chided for being a food snob. "Uh, you guys are going to Chili's? Isn't there like...a better option?" And likely there was (The Chimes comes to mind) but we were all college kids who weren't native to this new city, going places that were cheap and had 2 for 1 happy hour. We also went to where our friends worked. I'm gonna guess that chain restaurants employ a huge population of college kids working their way through college, something ignored by the SF review.

Look, I'm completely guilty of even taking down this particular Olive Garden, long before the review of it came out. (Summary of that: I hate the Olive Garden and the last time I was there, because of unrelated issues, I ended up bawling after my visit.) (My hatred of the Olive Garden does not mean I am above loving other chains. I quite enjoy some Outback cheese fries every now and then. And my affinity for Hooters wings is documented.)

But my comments there aren't really about lamenting how naive these people are to think the Olive Garden is the best, it's wishing they had other options. I have a bigger problem with corporate chains taking over our life than with Grand Forks adoration of its new restaurant. (It was also about, as someone said, "Olive Garden isn't someplace you go, it's someplace you end up." So very true. And when I ended up there, it was kind of an awful moment all around.)

The desire for people to have and seek out local options comes from experience. When I was traveling Europe solo, I ate at far more McDonald's than I would ever like to admit. I couldn't get used to eating alone so I just wanted to eat something I knew how to order as quickly as possible and not cause a fuss. After a bit of doing that I realized it was absurd and made an effort to eat at local places and try local cuisine. Now whenever, wherever, I travel, I make a concerted effort to find places that are local and noteworthy and do what my dad once taught me, "If they have a house specialty, order it." Food is more than just perfectly comforting sustenance. I don't want to go into a "food can elevate existence" rant here, but, well, it often can. I'm more likely to find out about a place, to talk to locals, to even learn something about myself at their own little joint than I am at the IHOP next to the freeway. Even thinking about my time in Baton Rouge, I was about to leave the city for good before I knew there even was a downtown with cool, funky places to get good food.

Am I perfect in my "eat local" execution? Of course not. Even I'm guilty of driving somewhere and just wanting to eat what I know rather than seeking out something new. Sometimes I'm trying to get where I'm going and quick, easy, and convenient is what I want. Sometimes I'm just lazy. Sometimes I crave junk food. Sometimes Hooters is easier than parking in the Lower Haight to go to Wing Wings.

But I GET it, Grand Forkians, your Olive Garden is a big deal. Far more absurd than you being excited about it, and the utterly straight forward account of what it is by a grandmother, is the faux wonderment and utter snobbish derision offered by the SF "review" of the Olive Garden. You deserve better than that mocking tone for what you enjoy. I apologize, as one native San Franciscan, who lives closer to our single Olive Garden than I do to any of our fine restaurants, for the snobbishness of us all. Because at some point, we are all Grand Forkians seeking out food that is "warm and comforting on a cold day".

(More good reading on the feeling aspect of the topic from Posnanski here, ATVS here. More thoughtful understanding on the topic from Awl here.)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Oh you kids and the bar exam!

I couldn't figure out why my stats were going haywire when I hadn't bothered to post anything in awhile. Then I realized that all those kids taking the bar were freaking out and apparently I'm a bit of an authority on the topic. (I also did this when I was studying the second time. Rereading that was like seeing the insane writing on the walls of a schizophrenic's room. Bar study is AWESOME.)

So to all you kids finding your way here because you just took the bar exam: calm yo'self. (I say that to my little dog all the time, when she gets riled up. It's said in the voice of Donna & Tom saying "Treat yo'self".)

I'm not religious, more spiritual if anything, but a friend said to me when I was in that long period of waiting for results, "Oh, it's in GOD'S hands now." She was half joking (she's Southern; it's a thing) but she was right. You did, hopefully, all that you could do on those test days. There is nothing else you can do now. It's out of your hands. It's in God's.

Actually it's in the hands of disgruntled associates grading your essays on mass transit or with a glass of wine after a long day, paying 30 seconds of attention to your essays to see if you hit the major points. But still: not in your hands. So go enjoy life and know that whatever the result come the day you find out, you'll survive.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Regrets & Mardi Gras

(This post is weeks late because I'm a slacker. You forgive me.)

I don't regret much. As stubborn as I am, I stand by every mistake and just figure it got me to where I am and that mostly, usually, that place isn't half bad.

Today, feeling a little bit of regret.