Tuesday, November 16, 2010

evening with large

Yesterday, I took R.K. through a workaday evening on the Peninsula. He is in town for a wedding - a delightful wedding for which I was his plus one, more on this later. I worked while he wandered around San Francisco, Ferry Building to Fort Mason. At six, I picked him up from the Palo Alto Caltrain and drove in local and highway traffic down 101 to the Google campus, where with our chatty tour guide we enjoyed a cauliflower pinenut spread on cheese toast and banana chocolate mousse, and encountered a living wall, a solar-powered trash compactor, a collapsible fence made of polyethylene paper, and comfortable nooks full of intelligent-looking young people working past work hours. After touring the foosball table and the mystery pair of socks on the floor, we turned the corner and found two people playing at a grand piano.

We left. At my house, R.K. sung a soft tune and plucked out a few notes on the banjo while I thumbed the pearl of my Blackberry Clitoris looking for fires to put out. Dad set up R.K. in the extra bedroom and booted up a 2001-era desktop so that R.K. could be forced to view family photos. Boo remembered R.K. from Brooklyn sleepovers and leaned hard against his legs, begging to be patted. I coaxed my toes into the five-fingered shoes that R. had lent me, and Boo and R.K. and I walked the hundred yards to Grandma's house, where I applied tapotement therapy to her shoulders with an 18" daikon and Grandma told a story about losing a bunch of radios while doing her daily tai chi exercises in the schoolyard of Taiwan University. Obedient and well-mannered R.K. gamely carried on his end of the conversation and offered his name, but Grandma misheard him, gestured widely with her hands, and referred to him as "Large" several times. On the slow walk back home, Large and I stopped at a mystery spot that smelled like jasmine. We tried to delineate the edges of the sweet smell, sniffing the air in three dimensions until Large said he was going to pass out.

I subjected Large to P90x's Chest and Back disc. He stopped after half of the DVD, saying he was going to throw up. "I ate too much," he said. I believe you, Large. He sunk into our twenty-year old gray pleather loveseat and watched me finish the exercises and transition into the ab-ripping portion of the evening's festivities. I told Large of my parents' and my shared love of useless tschotskes, how a year ago S. said she would not permit me to bring any of these beloved trinkets into any shared household we would have, how I reduced my toys into one tissue box of useless crap, and then dumped out said box of crocheted sushi, rubber Cup o' Noodles, a baseball inscribed with the Constitution, a Barack Obama face towel, a Swan Lake music box, a miniature mace, a plush rat, and a $3.99 spinning Made in China LED toy onto my bed. We played with these while talking about relationships using terms like "aromantic" and "family love."

I had to wake at 7:15 for an East Coast conference call, so afterward I roused Large and we had breakfast at my favorite diner in town. I accidentally ate roughly 15-20 egg whites while Large said things like, "A hash pie is basically a potato pancake, except with bacon because it's not Jewish." I am pathologically unable to not chat so I flirted with the sixty year old lady at the cash register about buying Pez dispensers on Valentines Day, and then I drove Large three hundred feet to the Caltrain, where we did not hug goodbye because I anticipated seeing him up in the city after the work day. Well, the work day has left me wasted and I am unable to drag my tired ass north, so a remote hug from Palo Alto, dear Large, and thank you for visiting.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I was scared to meet J., so when she finally arrived, I rose to hug her, saying, I've heard so much about you! and then returned immediately to my supine position on the floor. I was "stretching my back" but really I was just nervous I'd stutter, or fail to be scintillating, or just flat out say something stupid. S. hadn't fully furnished her new apartment - it wasn't that strange that I would be on the ground.

J. is one of S.'s best friends. They met studying abroad in Beijing when J. was drawn to S.'s cherry red Fluevog boots. She is tall and slim, with a rangy stride, and glasses and eyebrows that always seem raised in excitement. Her face has Lucille Ball-like elasticity and humor. She gestures a lot. Favors large scarves. Speaks quickly. Leans in when listening. When she learns that a friend has a piece of new information to share, she shouts at her partner, "Why haven't we plucked this apple from the tree??"

Before I met her I heard stories. J. took care of S. in times of great need. J. is the type of person you invite over for dinner, but then she cooks - she walks casseroles of delicious food twenty blocks to your house, and then lets you keep her pretty pottery for weeks because she knows you don't have dishes.

The first time I met J., she talked about preparing for a winter train ride up to central Canada. All I could think to say was that the previous tenant of S.'s apartment had left behind a half dozen issues of a men's bodybuilding magazine, and she should bring these for the trip. Isn't it gross, I said. Look at their bodies.

At dinner with J. and her partner a few months later, J. asked me what S.'s brother was like. I had just met him. I said, He's just like S., but nice. I was teasing; of course I find Couchzilla nice. I meant that S.'s brother was more relaxed, less driven than his sister.

J. responded with her body and with her words. She pushed herself away from the table, sat up straight in her chair, and said, What do you mean S. isn't nice? She's so nice.

I fumbled around for an explanation. I meant, I mean, she's nice but he's like chill . . . J.'s socially adept partner rescued me by smoothly changing the subject.

Thus I learned something else about J.: she's fucking loyal. She is that friend. The protector. If I ever wronged S., J. would be the first person in line to disembowel me with a pitchfork. That snippet of conversation laid out the ground rules. Strange, knowing that only made me respect J. more.

S. and I tiffed earlier in the week about where to spend the holidays. Plaintiff/Counterclaim Defendant wanted both parties in California for Thanksgiving. Defendant/Counterclaim Plaintiff wanted to be at home. Both sides had compelling evidence for their arguments. They came to no resolution and Plaintiff left the call in a huff.

S. had dinner with J. tonight. I took a break from work to have dinner and exercise. When I returned, I saw in my inbox S.'s itinerary. For a trip to San Francisco. For Thanksgiving.

I knew right away what had happened. This is the chat we had after I got that itinerary:
me: really1?!?
no really, ??!?!!?

S.: hi!!!!

me: OMG!!!!!!
i love j.!!!!
did j. have anything to do with that?
i love j.?!!?
i love you!!!!
wait am i reading this correctly

S.: hahahahahaha
why do you love j.?
what about ME?!!??!!?

me: you too but first j.!!!!

S.: what!
what does j. have to do with anything?!

me: oh i don't know
just a guess

S.: why did you guess j.?

am i right?

S.: tell me why you thought of j. immediately!?


A dangerous time. Orange and black candy 75% off at CVS. Little blue piles of mini Crunch bar wrappers all over my desk at home. Little balls of Reese's cups foil all over my desk at work.

Can anybody tell me, are Butterfingers like vegemite? Captured waste from another food-making process given a second chance at a supermarket shelf? Because I cannot understand why else candy makers continue would continue to manufacture them. Or black jelly beans. What's the point??

Saturday, November 06, 2010

giants won the world series

The Giants won the World Series on Monday. R. and I watched Game 5 at Antonio's Nut House with the folks I met while watching the NLCS - I complained about one of them in a previous post, but truth be told it has been nice to see the same people over and over in the same bar and have friendly feelings toward them. Makes me feel like a real townie.

The game was a pitching duel, a shutout on both sides until the late innings. We were on edge, waiting for a team to break through with a hit, two hits in a row. Lincecum was flawless. Cliff Lee seemed so too, until Ross and Uribe stacked up hits, Huff moved them up with the surprise bunt, Burrell whiffed (again!) and then Renteria hit a ball that looked for a breathless moment like it might drop in the field and turn into a pop fly. But it didn't. It slipped between the first row of the bleachers and the center field fence. A perfect clutch home run. We all lost our shit. The bar erupted. I leapt up on the footrest of my barstool and almost tipped myself face-first into the guacamole, screaming with my arms over my head. "That's the World Series! That won the World Series!" I said.

Two innings later Wilson closed it out. Hamilton struck out looking at a sick breaking ball; Guerrero grounded out. Wilson built up the count to 3-2 with Nelson Cruz. We waited. The next pitch: fouled back. The next one. No one dared to breathe. Nelson stepped in with a huge swing. And - he missed!

I must have stepped through a worm hole or something because it felt like I lost about five seconds. I blacked out after the last pitch and came back to find myself screaming, jumping up and down on the peanut shells underfoot, screaming and screaming with a hundred and fifty people in the bar. It was like we were locked up in a champagne bottle and and then Brian Wilson popped the cork and we just blew up and spilled over. I peed in my pants, only a little bit, I just couldn't control myself. We were just making sounds, not even words or "Yeah!!" but "AGHHHHHHHHH!" R. and I bear-hugged, then threw our heads back and jumped up and down screaming "AGHHHH!!!!!" in unison. We broke off, stepped back, double high-fived, did the same with the people around us, and then went back to jumping up and down and screaming. I even gave the woman with the talking problem a two-handed high five. We cut loose, I mean literally, physically; R. said later, "I was just farting and peeing all over myself when they won."

Things subsided into a general din punctuated by occasional wooting crescendos, but after that petered out very quickly. Within about ten minutes the packed bar had half-cleared out. The Giants were dogpiling by the pitcher's mound in Rangers Ballpark. I bought vodka shots for me and R., because I didn't know what else to do. We seemed shell-shocked. We watched the Giants spraying each other with champagne, and the inaudible post-game interviews for a few more minutes, then drove back to R.'s house to watch the news.

I was still in a blissed-out daze on Wednesday morning when I woke up, so I decided to take a half day and get myself up to the ticker tape parade. What a trek: traffic on the highway to the commuter rail, thirty-person lines at ticket machines, lines to get into the station, lines to get out of the station, almost standstill shuffling in Civic Center Plaza. Took me almost an hour and a half to get there.

I didn't think the parade would be amazing, but I thought that something ceremonial would satisfy my psychological need for closure. What happened in the bar after Game 5 felt strange; twenty minutes after the spasm of victory, most people were gone. R. and I and a few strangers sat around a table beaming at each other, and up at the TV screens, but in the corner a few people had started shooting pool, the kitchen staff kept pushing out orders of fajitas de camaron, and the peanut shells went untrampled. It seemed to come down awfully quick. There weren't riots in Palo Alto. Nobody danced in the street and fell down drunk into a crowd of fans. I went over to R.'s and ate half a bag of kettle corn. Life just went on.

So I wanted a ritual. Plus I was curious. I wondered if people would be excessively polite and giddy in San Francisco the way they were in Grant Park the night Obama was elected. You know when you experience something intense and you want to be around people who feel the same way? How your private joy about a non-private event finds special meaning when it is shared by a hundred thousand people? Freud calls this the oceanic feeling. I'm into mob scenes, and San Francisco is a really fun place for a feel-good mass gathering. Maybe because of all the pot? Gay Pride, Dyke March, Dolores Park on a sunny Sunday - when it's good it's really good.

In the Daly City BART station, I stood in line behind a man named Norm. Norm had taken the bus from Half Moon Bay (a town on the Pacific about 40 miles south of San Francisco) to the BART. His trip by public transportation was going to take him more than two hours. Norm didn't understand how to use the ticket machines, so I bought him his ticket with my credit card when I bought mine. He seemed really happy about this. We sat next to each other for half an hour on the train and chatted about his Ty Cobb impersonation, the VA Hospital where he was going to get his eye fixed, how he worked up from a menial job at a photography agency and became a photographer himself. I told him about my girlfriend in New York; he was from New York, too!


We stuck together and split up when the throngs exiting the station pushed us apart. I shouted "Goodbye and good luck!" over my shoulder and ascended to the street.

(Norm in the crowd at Civic Center station.)

The event itself was kind of a crowded mess. It was clear that the city had only had one day to plan. There were no speakers or projection screens, so basically if you weren't seven feet tall or hadn't started lining the parade route at 8 a.m., there was no chance for you to catch any of the action. No bathrooms or vendors or water, either.

(The crowd at Civic Center Plaza.)

People climbed whatever they could. Crowds of people gathered on the public bathrooms. I saw about twenty on a big white van.

During the World Series, I would tell anyone within earshot that the Giants were superior as a team not only because their players were scruffy nonconformists who seemed to love each other but also because their fan base is far more diverse than the monochromatic crowds in Arlington, Texas. Seriously, in the pans of Rangers Ballpark, the only people of color you'd see were Giants fans. Watching that made me feel like a female executive must feel walking into a meeting filled with men, or a Jewish person must feel in a supermarket where everybody has a little Hitler mustache. This coupled with the alarming habit in some ballparks of putting up "K"s whenever a pitcher gets a strikeout - do they realize that it says "KKK" all over their stadium?? I was so happy that that kid dressed up in a bright red full-body crab costume (in homage to San Francisco seafood, I think) sideways-walking around the ballpark after Game 5 was Asian. I cannot understate the importance of this.

I don't mean to sound triumphalist. All I mean to say is that on Wednesday I was as interested in the people around me as I was in trying to catch a glimpse at my favorite ballplayers. I took a bunch of photos with this fancy new camera I bought last week.

(This kid is holding this man's ears like they're handles!)

(It can't be all feel-good. This tattoo captures everything that is wrong with San Francisco. No taste. So tacky.)

I stood in a throng on Larkin Street and roasted (80 degrees in the city?!) for an hour, getting a glimpse of (I think) Cody Ross's arm, and the backs of lots of people's heads, but not much else.

I don't know if I found the oceanic feeling. The mood was mixed. People were getting irritated at the heat, the crowd, and the invisibility of the hometown heroes. I freaked out because the cell towers were all clogged up from the crowd and I got a work email 45 minutes after it had been sent. Even so, when Tim Lincecum's bus passed on McAllister, giving us a split-second look at our long-haired super Freak, we all cheered him like a champ.


I used to be one of those nerdy, sarcastic adolescents who derided sports as frivolous and athletes as overpaid meatheads. This despite my fascination with the World Series-winning A's team of 1989 and the Superbowl-winning 49ers team of 1995! First sports was just baffling: I just didn't get how my seventh grade homeroom teacher could chat it up with a twelve year-old boy at 7:45 a.m. on a Tuesday about how a team that wins over 100 games per season should make it to the postseason no matter the standings. Then it became contemptible: only 39% of Americans believe in evolution, 65% don't show up for midterm elections, one in four read no books, and you're wasting time on rich men playing with balls???

I recently hung out with Matt, a friend who grew up down the block. I was a year ahead of him in school, so I supervised his work on the high school newspaper, and I always felt that because of that, he respected my opinion more than it deserved. I haven't seen him for maybe a decade. Making idle chat with him on a walk around Stanford campus about two months ago, I asked him what his recent trip to San Diego had been like. He said it had been "nice." Then he self-corrected: "Oh God, 'nice.' What an insipid thing to say. San Diego wasn't just nice."

I couldn't help but feel that this was some sort of performance for me. Back when I knew Matt, I think I was the kind of person who'd judge a description of something as "nice" as insipid, just as I would judge sports fans as mindless consumers. What a snot I was! I wanted to hug Matt and apologize for the person I had been. I mean who knows, maybe he really thought "nice" didn't capture what he wanted to express about San Diego and it had nothing to do with me, but nonetheless I read the whole situation as an indictment of my adolescent snobbery.

Hold on, I have to stop myself from going where this writing is going. Who am I fooling, writing this narrative of enlightenment, as if I have gone from snob to loving, nonjudgmental Buddha. Nope - still a snob, also a hypocrite. I still think people are empty-headed cabbages for preferring mindless entertainment to reading and voting; it's just now I also happen to enjoy that mindless entertainment. It used to be that I liked country music because I found it comically conservative but now I think I really like comically conservative country music OH GOD it's hard to be a guilty, neurotic bitch! What the fuck am I saying? I can't really just enjoy something - I have to stay alert, observe other people's faces, question the social implications and politics of their pleasure and mine, and basically just con myself out of a good time. What rapture I have is secretive and rare. Ask my exes.

Eh. So thank you, Giants, for letting me jump up and down and scream with my best friend in a bar full of jumping, screaming people. It felt so foreign that I had to describe it above as "passing out" - like an out-of-body, out-of-consciousness experience. But really it was just happiness. For that moment. Unfiltered, unquestioned happiness. Thank you.


Sorry for this upchuck of a blogpost. You see my brain is actually just scrambled egg whites, high in protein, low in fat, nutritionally superior to whole eggs but still just a mess of shit on a plate. HIRE ME, EMPLOYERS.


Another thing I am grateful to the Giants for is the excuse they gave me to spend time with beloved people:
  1. May 14 regular season game at the stadium. R. and C. and I took Caltrain up and met O. and N. Spent 2 1/3 innings walking around looking for hot dogs and garlic fries and admiring N.'s toe cleavage, and most of the game checked out of the action on the field. A view of the water and the shipping containers all the way over on the Oakland side of the bay. R. and C. and I took the train home with the entire Palo Alto Swim Club boy's team, about two dozen white, Asian, and hapa kids with skin browned to almost the same color as their chlorine-lightened hair.
  2. Game 4 of the NLDS. Came down from my office to watch half an inning with my colleagues in the lunch room. Beloved partner P. looked bemused and said, "Do you follow baseball?" This warm beam of attention alone made the entire baseball season worthwhile.
  3. Game 2 of the NLCS. Went to W.'s house in Fremont with O. He cooked balut and fried fish for us while we watched the Giants implode. They lost 6-1. My very first balut was tasty! No little duck beak or face or bones, as I had feared, and only a savory, brothy flavor with a hard cap of egg white and a slightly veinier, tougher yolk.
  4. Game 5 of the NLCS. Met chatty Cathy and her less chatty friends at Antonio's Nut House. Beer, peanuts, baseball, and solitude (+ Cathy) = nice.
  5. Game 1 of the World Series. Met R. at her house, where she had been waiting for two hours to start watching the game. She came to the door going, "Wheee!!!!!" and clapping her hands in excitement. C. successfully stayed awake for the entire game. R.'s fitness challenge for the game was to do 10 burpees per run scored. Most Giants games this season have been low-scoring games, 3-2, 1-0, etc. World Series Game 1 ended with the score at 11-7, so . . . R. did 180 burpees! My fitness challenge was eating Cheetos.
  6. Game 2 of the World Series. R. and C. and I went back to Antonio's Nut House. Chatty Cathy and her crew were there; I waved. We grabbed seats in the front and watched the Giants dismantle the Rangers. R. and I made orange pom-poms with the yarn from a discarded knitting project - a wedding blanket for me, but the marriage ended before the knitting did, ehhhh, so we turned the yarn into rally poms. We also wore our matching Brian Wilson beards, which we'd picked up a few days before at a Halloween store where a California stoner dude had asked us in his low, druggy voice, "So, uhh . . . where you guys get those beards at?" We pointed him to the beards aisle.
  7. Game 3 of the World Series, Finnerty's in Manhattan. R.M. and R.T. met me at this densely packed bar. Poor R.T., trying to read her Stephanie Meyer novel on her iPhone while meatheads pushed past her to get to the bar. Eventually she succumbed to the television and R.M. and I took turns explaining to her the rules of the game. Met R.M.'s friendly Fresno folks, observed some people flirting, listened to some idiots behind me talking loudly about girls with fake boobs.
  8. Game 4 of the World Series, Pacific Station in Brooklyn with S., who tried to escape her baseball-watching duties by eating her pre-game baigan bharta very slowly. Found seats on a bed buggy couch next to a man in a Buster Posey jersey reading Foucault. S.'s initial irritation at her girlfriendly obligation turned into mild interest in the game. Tried to teach her about pitches but I couldn't get clear in my head the difference between a breaking ball, a cutter, and a slider. We made out in the corner between innings, and left when it was clear that the Giants would win. Sorry for writing that, but I'm really proud of the fact that you will make out with me!!!
  9. Game 5, as described above.
I congratulate you on making it to the end of this post, though I question your judgment and your interest in mindless entertainment in the form of reading some lezzie's blog. Please send your mailing address to me. To express my gratitude for your patronage, I will mail you a Giants snuggie. Go team.

Friday, November 05, 2010


I get a lot out of knowing that one of my friends is in a 16-person graduate program where 31% of her class has a name ending in "-ine":
  • Christine
  • Bernadine
  • Geraldine
  • Josephine
  • Delphine

Monday, November 01, 2010


December 5, 2009

S. called and said, “Guess where I am calling from? You’ll never guess.” I guessed. Hotel? Potomac? D.C.? All wrong: in a Marshall’s store in Pentagon City, Virgina. It was across the street from her hotel, and she was shopping with T. She asked me what I was doing. “Looking at maps,” I said. I was going up to Sacramento later in the day. We talked about this and that, but mostly S. prattled on about what she experiencing at the store. She paused for thirty seconds to take a call. It was T., calling from pants. Do you need to go? I asked. “No, we’re all caught up!” she said. She said, “Oh! Were your canoe shoes with jiaozi detail a brand called J. Company?” No, I said they were more name brand, and that canoe shoes with jiaozi detail were a popular style this year. I had seen several of the same kind. She said, “I want to buy these shoes. So cheap! And these! Oh no! So expensive. Sixty dollars?!”

T. came over with some potential purchases, and S.'s voice rose an octave as she said, “I like this one. Oh, this one is really cute.” Then it suddenly dropped. “This one—don’t get it; you never wear red.” I concurred and advised T. not to cause cognitive dissonance. The T. I know has never worn red. They were inspecting, according to S., “A bright red blouse, and a bright blue blouse.” T. went to the register, and S. said, “I wish you were here at Marshall’s with me.” She speculated that she would make me try lots of clothes on. “I would just get bored and wander over to the bargain bin and bags,” I said. “That’s right, you would probably go and try perfumes, you would open the boxes and spritz yourself,” she said. I said that’s what boxes were for, to be opened. She said, “No, they’re not.” I protested: I would repackage the perfumes.

I told S. that I loved to listen to her voice, and that hearing her moving around the store was like listening to a chaotic radio piece. I wasn’t used to other events happening while we talked on the phone; though often I am walking or biking or driving while talking, S. is most often stationary and indoors (except when walking to the subway). I said the sound coming through the phone was like War of the Worlds. She expressed interest in “sweater boots.” What are sweater boots? “Oh, you know, boots that look like sweaters. The least practical thing in the world, but they look so warm.” She said, “This store is so absurd. Clothes are so absurd. Look at this: leggings with buttons down the side!” I said, “I know, why can’t there just be 5-10 practical styles for us to choose between?” “Oh no,” she said, “I like clothes.” I related to her my broken windows theory regarding shopping: Marshall’s is chaotic, so it feels appropriate to deepen the chaos, and to not rehang items you’ve tried on. S.: “Oh, you’re so right, T. and I totally just draped this shirt over the rack.” Some smocks caught her eye. “I love plaid smocks!” I asked her if she had ever had experience with a plaid smock, so that she could make that ridiculous statement, but she ignored me. “I kind of want to buy this smock,” said she. “But the time has passed for me to wear smocks.” I asked her to define smock: “Too short for a dress, too long for a shirt.” Like what Britney Spears wears as dresses? “Exactly.”

I asked why the time had passed for smocks: “I am too old to wear things that look like pinafores.” I asked her what pinafores were: “Oh, nevermind.” She hung up and called me back a minute later. “I said goodbye to T. Now I’m going to walk to the train!” I told her to be careful because it was snowing and suburban, and there were bound to be terrible drivers. She said, “It’s a two minute walk, all within the mall.” So I said, “Oh, then throw caution to the wind! Talk to me, baby!” She said she had to go, because the train was going underground.

December 10, 2009

S. recalled to me the entire plot of Jane Eyre, and said that race generally and specifically the “blackness” of Mr. Rochester’s wife kept coming up in funny ways. I said that descriptions of men as “square-jawed” and rice as “fluffy” had failed to conjure any image for me as a young reader. We debated whether rice was adequately described as “fluffy,” and I concluded that S. approached rice on a visual-macro level, hence seeing the entire bowl as fluffy looking, where as I was tactile-micro, imagining the density and chewiness of each grain of rice as incompatible with my understanding of fluffy (voluminous but light, like cotton candy).

I asked S. again to define a pinafore, since she had described a smock as a type of pinafore, and then forgotten to define pinafore. She said, “A pinafore is a nursery school type of jumper.” I gave up. S. is a self-referencing dictionary.

August 26, 2010

S. called to say, “I almost bought my mother a party frock from the vintage store.”

I said, “Isn’t a frock just a large shirt?”

S. said, “Would you call a dress just a large shirt? Or shoes just . . . hard socks?”