Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Joey Ramone is one of my favourite people. Grant it I never got to know the guy and he is, well, dead, but I always felt that special connection to him in a quirky sort of way, through the poppy lyrics of his music. For instance, “I Wanna be Sedated” speaks to me in such poignant ways, that I have decided to one day make it my wedding song:

Twenty-twenty-twenty four hours to go
I wanna be sedated
Nothin' to do no where to go-o-oh
I wanna be sedated
Just get me to the airport put me on a plane
Hurry hurry hurry before I go insane
I can't control my fingers I can't control my brain
Oh no oh oh oh oh

Hail, Joey.

Ah, Joe. Joe Strummer is also up there on my list, and even though I never got to know the guy personally because he is, well, dead, the bond between us is very real. Joe and The Clash speak to me in the most awe-inspiring manner, making me stop at times and ponder life in a very British Invasion type of way:

I went to the market to realize my soul
‘Cause what I need to just don’t have
First they curse, then they press me ‘til I hurt
We say Rudy can’t fail

Go, Joe.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, pivotal album by one of my all time favourite bands, The Beatles, stands out in my heart. I never got to know the Beatles and I really should hurry up with Paul and Ringo because they aren’t yet, well, dead, but even if that never happens I’ll always have their kicking tunes to sing along to:

It was twenty years ago today,
Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play
They've been going in and out of style
But they're guaranteed to raise a smile.

Rock on, boys, rock on.

The name Sgt. Pepper also happens to coincide with Pepper White, a colour so rich and creamy it evokes memories of Cinderella satin dresses, and gourmet Alfredo sauce.

Would you ever think that Pepper White was the official name of a colour? Not me. But it is, and Pepper White is the colour of my car. My first ever, brand new, shiny Mini Cooper Classic that I have christened Sgt. Joey Pepper.

Gabba Gabba Hey.

Day 3 1/2: Sonoma

“Sonoma over Napa,” all the guidebooks said. Definitely, Sonoma over Napa. Napa is a tourist trap; pricey and overdone. Sonoma is the place to be, the lesser known, more hip corner of wine country, with scenery just as gorgeous, and a historic downtown to boot.

Heck, I was sold. And on a personal note, everything with the name, “Sonoma” in it seems to bring me joy. Sonoma Chicken Salad from Whole Foods. Williams Sonoma. See?

The journey to Sonoma County is only an hour from San Francisco proper, and the drive up, for the most part, is unspectacular. Highways, houses, sky. Typical road trip stuff. “I thought it'd be a lot more pretty,” Sandy said, and I had to agree.

“Yeah, not much to look at. Unless it's going to be like in the movies, where we drive over one hill and there it all is, lush and glorious.”

Sure enough, a few minutes and one hilltop later, Sonoma was spread out before us. Lush, glorious, and too beautiful to believe. It wasn't long from the borders of the county to its downtown, and we drove it slowly, our eyes popping and mouths dropping the whole way.

Our visit coincided with harvest time, and the grapes were full and round on their vines. Quiet roads were lined with trees, the leaves from their heavily drooping branches brushing onto the roof of the Mini, just changing into the russet colours of fall.

Sonoma is home to about two zillion wineries, and they were everywhere. Magnificent houses dotted the landscape, rustic mansions with Mexican shingled rooftops set in the middle of hilltop vineyards. Paradise in grapes.

I have only read about such places.

Downtown Sonoma was equally breathtaking, a charming little town set in old style California, all trendy shops and corner cafes. I did what I do best when I'm excited: I squealed and bounced up and down in the seat while Sandy parked the Mini. As you've noticed, I get very worked up when I travel.

And so, after getting out of the car and stretching our legs, Sandy and I set about to discover. We ate lunch at an authentic Mexican restaurant, and tried tortilla soup for the first time. We had ice cream in a corner shop that churned each flavour by hand. We went to a liquor store built like an underground wine cellar, and saw dozens of vintages from around the world.

We went to the Lisa Kristine gallery, a photographer who does the occasional assignment for National Geographic, and purchased some truly unbelievable photographs: a shot of the faithful at the Ganges in India; a peasant girl in the mountains of Tibet; a man weaving his bicycle around yellow leaved trees in Kashgar, and a brown shuttered window against a striking red wall in Peru.

Then, we wine tasted. Really, if you're not going to wine taste, why bother going to wine country at all?

The Mayo Family Winery set up shop in downtown Sonoma, and does daily tastings. It works like this: you pay a nominal fee, $6 this case, and the person behind the counter/psuedo barkeep gives you samples of that year's batch.

I once saw a video of professional wine tasters; they'd swirl, sniff, take in a mouthful and, horror of horrors, spit it out. Really, what’s the point?

Luckily, non-professionals are allowed to be gauche, and everything we took in, went down. All of it. Happy, happy customers were we. Even better, walking us down the loopy path was Charles.

Charles Hillard, white haired, southern accented spirits virtuoso of the Mayo family was, in my imagination, born with a concord grape in one hand, and a cork in the other. Our tastes weren’t so much sips as they were multiple gulps, thanks to his generous pouring, and every last bit was poetry.

We had six wines to taste, but ended up with nine, as Charles let us have three extra, on the house tastings first. He’d pour a bit, swirl it around in the goblet then look at it, somber and misty-eyed, before launching into elegant prose.

“This cabernet is the queen of them all, really. It took second place for the best cab in Paris last year, and coming that close to the French was a feat unto itself. We didn’t lose, but we didn’t win, and there is a difference between the two. The body of this wine is very full, and the colour is more brown than your traditional cab, giving testament to the aging process and quality we give our wines here. The chocolate and spice notes are subtle on the tongue, and if you close your eyes you can appreciate its smoky tones.”

Brilliant salesman, that man. Extra long pours, a few free tries and lyrical storytelling. Make your customers lose presence of mind before purchase. Between the two of us we went home with six bottles, and had to giggle the session off in the park across the street, pawing each other all the while, before getting back into the car.


Friday, November 24, 2006



Sharon, Lois & Bram sang this song, pretty popular among the grade school circuit, when I was a kid. I hated Sharon, I hated Lois, and I hated Bram. What kind of a name is Bram, anyway? I hated this song, and I especially hated when they made us sing it in school. I just wasn’t a sing-a-long type of kid.

These days, this song is in my head every single bloody day. I’m back at work, looking for new work, writing every day, back at school, doing my homework, running back and forth between my house and the units, finding time for Blue, and finding time to be with (giggle) Sandy.

There aren't enough hours in the day to get everything done sometimes, it seems. Hours tick by like minutes, and the days are trickling through my fingers. It's been years since I've been this busy.

Then again, it's been years since I've been this content.

Sometimes, running on empty is the most fulfilling thing of all, no?


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Mini You, Mini Me

I have always wanted to go to Wine Country. What on earth could excuse me from being to San Francisco three times already, and not making that hour drive to the Bacchanalian paradise of America?

The first time, Oli and I were here for just four days, and didn’t have time to make it everywhere we’d planned. Next time, we reasoned.

The second visit we were in Frisco for eight days, and skipped all the way to the tourist office to book our day trip around Napa & environs. Freak mudslides in the area had seen all trips cancelled, until further notice. Really, what were the odds?

The third time was again for four days, and four days in San Francisco are over, done, and finished at the drop of a hat. Didn’t quite make it.

But this time, I was with wine-head Sandy. Sonoma & Napa were on both our request lists, and so there was no excuse not to go.

Bright and early Monday morning, we rolled our asses out of bed to start the day. We got pretty, and then we got ourselves to the car rental place.

They were supposed to pick us up with the car but at the last minute, said they were too busy. Bastards.

In the spirit of letting bygones be bygones, we didn’t put up a fuss, and waited our turn behind the counter. I looked around at what was available, when a shiny something-something caught my eye. I grabbed Sandy’s hand, squashed to the heavens almighty, and started to wheeze.

Sandy: Are you okay?


Sandy: Where?


Sandy: Oh yeah, I see it.


Sandy: I don’t know Cheech, that’s a popular car. I doubt it’s available.


Twenty minutes, three prayers, a lot of wishful thinking and one signed rental slip later, Sandy and I were happily tucked into the chili coloured Mini convertible, and on our way to Sonoma. I’d printed out directions on Mapquest, and before long we were on the highway, more than ready to start our adventure.

Sandy: We’re in California, dude! We’re in a red Mini, and on our way to wine country! WINE COUNTRY! Top down?

Me: YES!

Roof goes down

Sandy: Wow. It’s really…

Me: Cold!

Roof goes back up

‘Twas a shame, but not in the grand scheme of things. We were still in California, we were still in a seriously awesome car, blaring tunes on the radio, and on the interstate. We were still super excited, and we still squealed when we turned onto the Golden Gate Bridge.

How touristy, though. But what a memory.
Professor Janice Craig lectures every Tuesday morning in Mia’s Applied Practice class. She is dull, she is boring; she is seemingly devoid of human compassion and emotion. It is not my favourite class.

Part of yesterday’s lecture got me, though:

You should be reaching a high commitment to accomplishing your goals. We can do this together. Each person should feel like they have an integral role.

I don’t feel like I have an integral role. I feel like an overgrown kid with freaky hair and scabby knees, trying to make it to the top of the jungle gym.

Dare to fail because most successes come one more time after you’ve been knocked down. Get up, adjust it, and you’ll make it better.

Janice Craig, you’ve shocked and amazed me. No one ever tells you to fail, they just scream “Succeed!” at you, until you’ve bounced so often you feel like an overgrown kid with freaky hair and scabby knees, trying to make it to the top of the jungle gym.

We never think about failing, just succeeding, so that when we do fail – a given in the game of life – it gets us down way more than it should.

Get up, adjust it, and you’ll make it better.

Thank you. I really needed to hear that.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Day 2 3/4: Run Forrest, Run!

Our traipse through Pier 39 was an adventurous one and for the time being, not even over. But it was for the moment, I mean, how much tack can you possibly handle? And so, I took Sandy by the hand and liberally dragged him down to the Cannery.

The guidebooks also tell you to stay away, away! from the Cannery, but in this case, I really can’t understand why. It’s a marketplace of quaint shops and restaurants in an ancient warehouse that was once the largest peach cannery on earth. The building and surrounding olive trees scream old California, and the stores sell the fashionably unconventional: handmade pottery, gourmet tea, instruments of the world; John Deere fashions.

Alright, the John Deere store is a little much. I can’t recall a time when I ever wanted to match a tractor.

Oli and I fell in love with the Cannery the first time we ever visited to San Francisco, and had breakfast there every morning at an outdoor café. Then, we would cross the courtyard and browse in our favourite store, a wine shop selling wine country vintages in old wooden crates on one side, and gourmet foods on the other. There was even an entire wall devoted to hot sauce.

Showing Sandy that store was not to be; the Cannery had suffered a terrible fire a few years back, and that vendor didn’t return. I only pouted minimally before taking him to the instruments place, which was still there, and Oakville Grocery.

Oakville Grocery was new one for me, too, and what a wonder. Part supermarket, part gourmand deli & part wine cellar all arranged meticulously on a Terence Conran platter, then sprinkled over with aged parmesan. That good. The front is the gourmet boutique and prepared foods counter; the back is books, walls lined with wine, and a table that looks like a gigantic, worn down butcher’s block, set up for wine tasting.

A place like this is heaven for Sandy and I. Why don’t we have this at home? After picking our chins back up off the floor and stuffing our eyes back into our heads, we lost ourselves in fermented grape bliss, and read label after label with the intention of bringing something back to the hotel.

He: Hey, Cheech?

Me: Yeah, Ace?

He: This stuff’s expensive.

Me: Tell me about it! I thought locally grown would’ve meant some deflated dollars!

And etc. We did walk away with some Chianti, cookbooks, and cheese knives. How snobby is that?

Stomachs a-growling, we walk back to Pier 39 with a quick detour through Ghirardelli Square, and a camera store selling black and white prints on outside racks. Sandy stocks up on some John Lennon and The Beatles; I get comedic with Stanley Laurel & Oliver Hardy.

Why are we going back to Pier 39? To eat at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Sandy had been to the one in Hawaii a few years back and was eager to go again, since it’s yet another establishment we don’t have at home.

It’s quite interesting, that place; intolerable crowds, a cesspool of highchairs, sawdust on the floor and every TV screen showing Forrest Gump on perpetual loop. There’s a sign on the table that says RUN FORREST RUN on one side, when you don’t need your waitress handy, or STOP FORREST STOP if you need more napkins, drink refills, and so on. The wait staff even quizzes patrons on movie trivia as the evening winds down.

Waitress: (to Sandy) Which leg was Lieutenant Dan missing?

Sandy: Both!

Waitress: Right on! (to me) Where did Mrs. Gump purchase Forrest’s leg brace?

Me: How on earth should I know? How come he gets the easy question? Is tonight’s theme ‘legs?’

Waitress: Just try, it’s easier than you think. Just name a department store.

Me: Sears Roebuck?

Waitress: Yes! You win!

Me and Sandy: Alright!

Waitress: You win free condiments for the rest of the night!


The food was fantastic, though. Eating at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. is not terribly ideal for waistline watchers, but superb vacation fare for the starving, who have been walking all day. Sandy and I each had a Lava Flow to drink, which is creamy pina colada with a strawberry twist, and he ordered the dinner portion of the Shrimper’s Net Catch, which is shrimp steamed in beer and served with garlic bread.

The amount of shrimp he had in the bucket – that’s right, bucket – was ridiculous, and I’ll never forget that weak “Help” that came out of his mouth halfway through the meal. While I would have loved to save him, I was drowning in the Shrimp New Orleans, yet another bucket of shrimp drowned in a broth of garlic, butter and spices.

Butter. Oyvey. But damn, was it ever good.

Waitress: Would you like to see a dessert menu?

Would you like a case of congenital herpes? I didn’t say that out loud, but the look on our faces, and mountains of dirty napkins around our plates did the talking. No dessert.

Sandy and I may have Walk Forrest, Walked into the restaurant, but we Crawl Forrest, Crawled our way out of there. It was still early, but back to La Victoriana we went for a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow was wine country.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Yesterday Sandy brought me up to his neck of the woods for some renovation generation. He has been inspired to reconfigure his bedroom, he says, and I think that's due, at least in some small part, to the disaster of decor magazines that paper my loft.

Nothing is ever wrong with your interiors, wardrobe, cooking skills etc., until you look at magazines telling you otherwise. Consider yourself warned.

So, Sandy and I did some discussing, picked out some curtains, some bedding, and even paint colours. My heart does a little cartwheel whenever he asks what I think about this or that; I like to think that means he values my opinion.

Post materials shopping, he takes me to lunch. We are enjoying sandwiches and espresso when he looks at me and says, "Tell me something."


"Are you trying to lose more weight?"

Ah, the million dollar question. "Yup."


Was he for real? I looked up at him, mid-chew, and saw serious written all over his face. The bite went down, and then, "What do you mean, why?"

"I'd like to know why."

"I think that's obvious."

"What is?"

"Why I'm still on the weight train."

"No, it's not. I like you the way you are."

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Mini & Me

I’ve said it once before, and I’ll say it again: I am blessed with a wonderful family. We pull together in the worst of times, and try our hardest, despite our busy lives, to enjoy the best of times together. Moms and Dad have always been there for me and Oli, and as their daughters, we do our best to be there for them.

We are a strong unit.

Dad bought Oli her first car. She was a bright-eyed, 21-year old student living and going to school an hour plus away from home, and the time was right for her first set of wheels. The look on her face when she opened the garage to see the shiny, black sports Beretta was priceless, and I’m sure the neighbours on the far end of the street heard her shrieks.

If there’s anything my parents win the blue ribbon for, it’s fairness. Every Christmas Oli and I get the same value in gifts, and every birthday it can be counted on that I’ll have what she had, five years before. Milestone events always spoiled the surprise in a way, but were even right down the line: Oli got that beautiful ring for her sweet 16, and so did I, only with a different stone. She got the matching pendant and earrings for her high school graduation, and sure enough, my set was completed while I was donned cap and gown. Oli got a gold bangle along with her university degree, therefore, so did I.

That said, I didn’t take it as anything new when Dad mentioned, quite awhile ago, “I bought your sister her first car. So, I’m going to buy you your first car, too.”

Again, this wasn’t a shock. I always knew it would be like this. What the big deal here is that I have parents who consistently surprise and amaze me, by always going the extra mile for their daughters.

I am very lucky. And, if parenthood is indeed in my cards, I will keep to this valuable lesson.

It is time for me to have a car. If I want to start living my life the way I was meant to, i.e. true independence, freedom to roam and not freezing my ass off in city bus shelters, the moment is ripe.

Oli: Okay kid, we’re going to get you some wheels. Any idea what you want?

Me: a Mini.

Oli: Okay, we can go to the Mini dealership. It’s halfway between home and your work, isn’t it? Where else do you want to go?

Me: Just Mini.

Oli: You can’t test drive the one car. There are so many out there.

Me: Nope. Only Mini.

Oli: Mazda? We can go to Mazda too, the dealership is downtown.

Me: Mini.

Oli: Volkswagen? How about a nice Bug?

Me: Mini.

Oli: Be reasonable!

Me: I am! It’s not a Porsche or Ferrari! It’s a flippin’ Mini!

Oli: But you can’t test drive just one car!

Me: Oh yes I can!

And so on.

The first Paul Frank garment I ever owned, before he went all Julius the Monkey, was a plain white, long sleeved t-shirt with an old school red Austin Mini in the middle. Coincidentally, that was also the first piece of “thin” fashion I’d put on in years; it was a baby tee.

My love affair with the Mini began when I was eight years old. A distant relative from the pits of Bosnia had an original one, green, and packed five of us in for a ride. Being the smallest, I was in the middle and the most squashed, but plenty wide eyed at the little car full of beans that whir whir whirrred us around the turnpikes.

Back at home the Mini eluded me for the most part, with the exception of a rare appearance in a punk video or two. Later still I watched Hugh Grant & company zip through London in Four Weddings and a Funeral,and not too long after that I was wearing my Mini tee to rags.

Y2K passed through with nary a forethought and we were well into the new millenium when Bavarian Motor Works, a.k.a. The Most Brilliant Company in the World, brought back to us that famous car so small in size, but grandiose in personality.

Fate, Kismet, Bashert. Call it what you will, but the Mini and I were meant to be together, I tell you.

Fast forward: Oli and me in a blue Mini Classic, Soho package installed, ready to test the sucker out. Am I in the driver's seat? No. When you test drive a Mini the dealer doesn't actually come with you, instead, they photocopy your driver's license, hang onto a major credit card, and set the timer for 30 minutes.

Me: I still don't understand why I can't drive. This is going to be my car, you know.

Oli: Because it's my credit card they have. Besides, I always test drive the family cars.

Me: Why don't we shake things around a bit and let me test drive my own car?

Oli: Quit whining. Where do you want to go?

Me: I'll answer that when I get to drive.

Oli: Fine. Sulk. See if I care.

Me: Well if you're going to test drive it, push some limits. Swerve, please!

Car swerves maniacally

Me: How's she handle?

Oli: Beautifully.

Me: Fabulous. Hit the brakes, already.

Car jerks forward so violently we are flung forward in our seats. Our purses in back fall onto the floor

Me: Verdict?

Oli: Impressive.

Me: I knew she would be. Road ahead's empty, speed up.

The smell of burnt rubber pervades

Me: Well?

Oli: I really like this car.

Me: Excellent! Now get the fuck out and let me drive.

Oli: Sis!

Me: Sis nothing, I want to drive the car! Get out!

She got out, and she let me drive. A big circle only, but I drove it nonetheless.

So, did I fall absolutely in love with this car? Did I cry when we were parted, and were my suspicions confirmed that, all along, the ostentatious Mini was the perfect car for me?

Bloody hell, YES!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Day 2 1/2: Pier 39

After our late breakfast/early seafood lunch, a satisfied Sandy and me left some very satisfied pigeons, and walked along the wharf. Mission: Alcatraz tickets.

Alas, it was not to be. That day was a Sunday, and apparently every tourist in the city, lots and lots that week because of the Oracle convention, wanted to sail to Alcatraz Island. We weren’t late in the day, but too late that day, and so purchased our tickets for the following Wednesday.

Tickets paid for and safely in my wallet, we are then accosted by a salesman selling timeshares on our way to the marvelously tacky Pier 39.

Pier 39 is kitschy, and it’s camp. A stunning example of what happens when the marriage between the city’s tourist board and a blatant play on consumerism goes terribly wrong. It’s packed with sightseers, markups, and the gaudiest stuff, like canned oysters with pearls, Viking helmet hats, aromatherapy stones, and cable car bells. You can have your fortune told by Zoltar, vending machine psychic, or arm wrestle with a fake hand. Plunk in the middle of this mess is a carousel.

And then, there are the seals. The loud, lazy, stinky seals that bum on the docks and Oom-pah-pah at picture takers all day long, cementing the fact that you are indeed roaming around one of the flashiest places in America.

Why go, then? Because it’s a heck of a lot of fun. And, fun tacky places usually make for great pictures.

We got the seals bellowing at one another, and so did every other person in that crowd. So we took pictures of the crowd, too. It’s amazing how many pictures you can take of people before they even realize what’s going on. Sandy got me in a candy store, and I got him climbing up a 20-foot door décor guitar at the Hard Rock Café.

It’s priceless, that picture. He’s really leaning into it, heavy metal style, with one foot up where the bridge is, and his right hand strumming a gargantuan string. The look on his face? Rock ‘n Roll.

I love posterity shots. I printed it out and gave it a good home, in between me Zuzu, and James in Aqaba holding up the McArabia, with a French fry dangling from his lips.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Happy Anniversary to Me

I am not supposed to be writing today.

I am not supposed to be writing anymore at all.

Yesterday was my one year blog anniversary. I gave myself 365 days to accomplish all of the goals on my list and so therefore, my time is up.

One small thing, though; I haven’t exactly done everything I set out to do. Shall we examine the evidence?

1. Have I acquired a new job, and am I fresh on the road to a sparkling career?

Nope. But I have been to a handful of interviews, made some contacts, and in fact applied for another job just five minutes ago. And then there’s that Eloise review....

2. Have I lost 60 (odd) pounds?

Nope. But I’m just over a third of the way there. Now it’s lose 30 (odd) pounds.

3. Have I decorated my loft without Debbie Travis?

Halfway there. Promise.

4. Survive my sister’s wedding.

DONE. Phew.

5. Plan & survive my best friend’s wedding.

As you all know, Raj’s wedding was put off in favour of real estate. This ticker was in turn changed to, help friend plan and survive total home facelift.

I’m surviving it quite nicely by not picking up his frantic phone calls every minute of the day, and doing my best to be a (very impartial) friend, and not inserting my opinion into slots A thru infinity. The battle endures.

6. Finish the cookbook that has been idling for 1513 days (and counting)

This is the sound of me laughing so hard, no noise is coming out. Really, in respect to this item, I should be shot. But then it’s just been so busy around here lately.

7. Achieve emotional and romantic peace, if there is such a thing?

Let’s see. I have thrown myself into the vortex of fury, washed that asshole right out of my hair, climbed back out (with bloody fingernails, no less), and am quite contentedly ensconced in a pas de deux with my high school dreamboat.

While I feel jinxes lurking around every which corner for even suggesting that emotional and/or romantic peace could even exist, I will say this much: For the first time in a long time, I am calm. And I am happy.

8. The Unofficial one: have I driven, and do I have a car?

YES! And no. I’ve driven plenty, which I’m mighty proud of, and even went car shopping yesterday. I shall terrorize highways yet.

So there you have it. Some gracious nods here and there but, in all honesty, a big incomplete.

Overall, then, a gigantic fail?

No. I don’t see it that way.

I could be hard on myself. I could wail and whine because after all this time, I didn’t do it after all.

Or I could have some compassion for myself, see how far I’ve come, and recognize that I could be on the path to something truly great.

When I started writing here, I was a mess. I was at my desk in my parents’ basement, left ankle freshly sprained, bedecked in flannel pj’s and a box of tissues at the ready since I cried at the drop of a hat. I hated my life, and everything in it.

Truth be told, I hated myself.

Where am I now? Not that far away, when you think about it. I’m on my sofa, in my half decorated loft. There are clothes in the dryer, and Bono is crooning into my living room. I’m still full from my very nutritious dinner and, after I finish posting this, I’ll run upstairs to flump on my bed and call Sandy.

Not far, but not bad. Not bad at all. I like it here just fine.

I like the road ahead even better.

Here’s to missed deadlines. Missed, but never lost.


It's a beautiful day
Sky falls, you feel like
It's a beautiful day
Don't let it get away

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Day 2: Fisherman's Wharf

Sandy and I spent our first morning in San Francisco wrapped around each other, caring nothing for the world outside.

Actually, we spent it ironing. Great city to see, and do you actually think we’d do it wrinkled? As Raj would say, Eeew! We primped and took turns with the travel steam iron I’d brought. Of course Mr. Morocco said the night before that he’d bring up an iron, but then he didn’t say anything about showing up to work that morning three hours late.

Dressed & pressed, we set out for our highly anticipated first item of the day: breakfast at one of the most delicious parts of town.

Every native San Franciscan I’ve ever met, every tour book I’ve ever read, every well-seasoned traveler of the city all say the same thing: stay away, away from Fisherman’s Wharf! It’s a tacky, it’s a tourist trap, and it’s the armpit of an otherwise glittering metropolis.

In a way, I have to agree with them. It is super tacky and it is a tourist trap, that’s for sure, as are most places with a Madame Tussaud’s. The streets are lined with old fashioned candy stores, jobbers selling unofficial Alcatraz t-shirts, and vending machines on every corner you could possibly spit, tempting you with the miracle of turning a regular penny into a cable car coin.

Why on earth would we want to go somewhere so predictable?

For the food, that’s why. Sure, Fisherman’s Wharf is carnival-ish and weirdly eccentric, but it’s also home to some of the best food you’ll ever have the pleasure of eating. You can visit a restaurant or buy it right off the street, market style, where the trademark sandwiches are so fatly stuffed with lobster, crab or shrimp, they give you a fork to eat some of the fish out of it, before you actually bite into the bread itself.

Sandy and I are creatures of habit. What’s ours is ours, and we snarl if anyone comes too close to our water bowls. However, being that we both love taste and all different kinds of food, with one another we do nothing but share. I guess that happens when you’re with the right person.

Me and that right person paced through Guardino’s, The Crab Station and Sabella before settling on a crab sandwich, calamari and deep friend clam strips with seafood sauce. There are no tables around there, and so we took our grub across the street to the gigantic, light up Fisherman’s Wharf sign shaped like a boat steering wheel, and chowed down standing up.

I have eaten thousands of meals in my lifetime, as have we all, but very few are so memorable that I can recall them years later. Chips twisted up in a newspaper in Piccadilly Circus; sharing a Big Mac in the car with Oli while on a road trip to the university where she would eventually get her Master’s Degree; gelato from a total hole in the wall in Venice, that we only found by accident because we were lost.

Some will argue that it’s all about the fine restaurant, the linens, the candlelit ambience, and that’s good too. But in my opinion, and in my experience, nothing, nothing can take away from the moment of cheap, hand-held foods in faraway places that become, more often than not, some of the most delicious meals you will ever have.

That was a new moment to add to my list, standing beside a gigantic boat wheel sign with Sandy, and eating street-bought seafood. He was feeding me, I was feeding him, and we both fed the fat pigeons that clustered around our feet. It was absolutely delectable, and I was very happy he liked it.

Somehow, I’d known he would.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Movies inspire me in ways I can't even begin to explain. Every now and then I'll catch myself watching something just because, or even just having the set on for background noise, and I'll happen to hear a line or two that knocks me off my feet.

Setting: The Units' house. I may not have a television, but my parents have a huge one.

Movie: Waiting to Exhale

I was channel surfing and settled here, right at the part where the viewers find out Bernie's husband has left her and their family for another woman. She walks into his closet, enraged, and goes on to destroy everything in it.

That got my attention pretty darn well, since I was doing that not long ago. I may not have stuffed Jess' belongings into a car and set it on fire, but the need to get rid of it all was borderline sickening. Even now I'll happen across something small and forgotten of his, or a picture of us, and my skin crawls.

I want it gone. Every trace of him, I want gone.

Jump to Bernie talking to Savannah, and me working on the family room couch. I was dragging and dropping something into my jump drive when I heard, I thought if I gave him everything, he would give me everything.

I snapped my head up so quickly there might as well have been danger of whiplash.

I thought if I gave him everything, he would give me everything.

Nothing like a breakthrough brought to you by the Movie Network. At least it's cheaper than therapy. And nothing like that breakthrough to stab you with several finely sharpened Henckels knives, straight in the gut.

I thought if I gave him everything, he would give me everything. I really did, too. That if I stuck by him and did what I could to get us through those storms of life – those fucking, neverending storms – he would do the same for me when the time came.

He gave me everything, alright. He gave me his absolute worst, day in and day out, then left me with nothing.

I was so stupid.

Bernie kept going: Never let a man take control of your life.

Ah, yes. Never let a man take control of your life, because it transforms you into a shell of a person you no longer recognize, and definitely a person you don't want to be.

I didn't know it then, but I know it now. Yesterday when I was with Raj, he said to me, “You know kookoo, you have no idea how miserable you were. It's so good to see you smiling again.”

Indeed. It's good to be smiling again, too.

There's just one little thing I want to correct Bernie on, though: Never let anyone take control of your life, other than yourself, that is. Or, never let go of the wheel.

May it be a lesson no one ever has to learn twice.

Me included.

Day 1 3/4: Walking San Francisco & Night at La Victoriana

What does one do after finishing a sumptuous meal in Chinatown?

Walk the rest of it. Chinatown, that is. I’ve seen a handful of North American & European Chinatowns, but not a one can touch Frisco’s. Walk through the gates, and in that short minute you have entered another world: silk flowers, Fu dogs, and Dim Sum restaurants behind every second door. Red shingled rooftops, kites on the lamp posts, and the ongoing battle of Tacky vs. Chic that is the apparent destiny of most Chinatowns: buy a $130 handmade silk and cashmere scarf in one classy place, or opt for a dashboard hula girl across the street, at the biggest dollar store you’ll ever see.

Sandy and I walked. We talked, we looked; we went in and out of shops without much purpose of buying anything at all, but soaked up the atmosphere of our eclectic surroundings. We saw the sights and smelled the smells, and agreed that if you were to take a black & white photo of Chinatown with no cars in it, you’d swear it was a picture from the 70’s.

The road through Chinatown leads to the heart of the city, and isn’t far off from Union Square. This journey is littered with tourists, panache, and fabulous shopping. And I mean, mega fabulous shopping. Sandy and I talked some more, we walked some more, and then we went to Macy's and bought Turkish cotton towels on super sale. We may be sharing facilities at La Victoriana, but that doesn't mean we have to wipe our butts clean with tired, gnarly old towels.

There was plenty more of the city to be had, but we were yawning after the long, crazy day full of mishap and mayhem. Taxi back to La Victoriana and up the old fashioned elevator, where we collapse on the bed to glorify in our love.

Nah. We fell asleep with all our clothes on, exhausted, unshowered, and still waiting for our bags. At least the nice thing about being stinky is you both smell great when you're stinky together.

At 1am the buzzing of Sandy's cell phone woke us up; our luggage had finally arrived and with it, our passports to sanity and personal hygiene. Yes, there it all was: my clothes, my shoes, my TOILETRIES. Never underestimate the power of soap and clean undies, not ever.

I swear, I could feel the dirt being washed off. We showered, got squeaky clean, and spent the night wrapped around one another, in contented bliss.

Lesson for the day: your situation may be stinky, but you definitely don’t have to be.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Living single is a fabulous thing. You answer to no one, and make your own time for everything.

It can also be a freaky thing, wreaking havoc on the finer points in your life. This hits you at the oddest of times.

For instance, yesterday I was standing at my kitchen counter, reading a magazine and filling out Blue’s annual city registration forms. I was eating dinner: Ikea meatballs, gourmet mustard, and beer, while the music from my surround sound was blaring.

Why was I standing? I don’t have a dining table and chairs. I usually eat standing up.

Why was I eating Ikea meatballs, gourmet mustard and beer? Because that’s all I could find in the fridge.

Why was the music from my surround sound blaring? Because I don’t have a TV, and must be content with plugging my hard drive and 82 hours worth of music into my surround sound system. The system I got for the TV I don’t have.

Somewhere between reading about Sienna Miller’s personal style, a meatball halfway to my mouth and Shakira screeching, “Whenever, Wherever,” it hit me.

I’m single. Maybe not emotionally, but living wise… man, oh man So, so single.

How else could it explain such bad habits? Standing while eating? Ikea meatballs?

Then again, how else could it explain such freedom?

I turned the volume up, and sat on the counter for good measure.

Gotta love it.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Mia is in her final year of the Graphic Design program, and has narrowed it down to the more artistic courses. She’s very talented. Yesterday she pulled out three watercolour paintings, each brilliant in its own way; one a perfect replica of the March of the Penguins movie poster. I can’t even draw my own stick figure.

Mia’s Tuesday afternoon class is Storyboarding. The instructor is a Sicilian dynamo, talking at the speed of light and issuing homework the way a general orders his troops into the line of fire. Draw! Draw! Draw! Draw!

Needless to say, I get very nervous for her in this class.

In a couple of weeks, Mia and the other students will be handing in a 30-frame storyboard for half their mark. I can see the panic in her eyes as the semester wears down, and the exhaustion. “I’m so worried about that assignment,” she said.

Don’t be, I typed back. You’ll do just fine. You’re so talented.

“But I’m going crazy. I’m drawing and drawing, but it will never be perfect.”

There’s no such thing as perfect.

“Of course there is,” she replied. “Look at the stuff in art galleries and museums.”

Silly girl, I typed, laughing quietly. Do you honestly think even a Picasso painting is perfect? How can you even judge what perfect is? Picasso wasn’t aiming for perfect, he was just doing what he thought was right. There is no such thing as perfect, for anything. There is just your best effort.

She thought about that for a minute. “I think you’re right.”

In this case, I definitely am.

“Thanks,” she smiled, just as the Sicilian started the lesson.

I’m a sufficiently practiced typist in that I can take down almost any information, and think about other stuff at the same time. While the instructor went on and on about the finer properties of drawing facial features, the same thought kept going through my head.

There is no such thing as perfect. There is no such thing as perfect. There is no such thing as perfect.

Maybe this can apply to more than just storyboard assignments.

There is no such thing as perfect; there is just our best effort.


Maybe sometimes, I should take my own advice.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Day 1 1/2: Hello, San Francisco

San Francisco is one of my favourite places in the world. Totally West Coast America, yet unbelievably Europe in that even though it’s not so huge a city, there’s oh so much to do.

As I said before, it was my fourth time there, and Sandy’s first. I’d been excited for weeks, putting together little itineraries and lists of all the great stuff I would show him. I figured that since we were landing around lunch time, we’d check into our hotel, dump off our luggage, and then Sandy’s first great Frisco meal would either be a seafood sandwich at the Fisherman’s Wharf, or an Oriental feast at a Chinatown dive.

How I would have loved to show him that with neater hair, luggage intact, and not reeking of plane. We were at the airport for a couple of hours, first waiting for our luggage to pop out, and then waiting again in line at the Complaints Desk to have our bags tracked down, while the automated Department of Homeland Security message blurted out, over and over, “Warning! Warning! America is on orange alert!”

As it turned out, the connector in Dallas had been so quick, the airfield personnel had just decided to leave half the plane’s worth of luggage in Texas. Fuckin’ A. May the fleas of a thousand yaks infest their armpits. At least our suitcases saw more of Dallas then we did.

We got ticket stubs, were assured that the bags would be coming to our hotel within a few hours, and set off in a taxi to our hotel. The weather was gorgeous, and I was looking forward to seeing our room, and maybe getting in a quick shower before setting out.

I’d chosen La Victoriana Hotel for a handful of reasons. First, there was a gigantic Oracle convention in Frisco that week, and most of the city was booked. Second, according to the voice I spoke with on the phone, the hotel was a short walk to Union Square. The website also showcased photos of charming, unique little rooms with plenty of character. With our limited choices of what was available, I was sold.

Imagine our fabulous looks of shock, dismay and disgust when seeing that our *charming* hotel was about an hour’s walk from Union Square, had sunken beds, about as much space as a tiny walk-in closet, and that we’d be sharing a bathroom and shower with the entire floor.

How had this happened? Through that lying ass of a Berber desk clerk, who we’d (less than) affectionately christened, “Mr. Morocco.”

Domo arigato, Mr. Morocco, Mata ah-oo hima de
Domo arigato, Mr. Morocco
Himitsu wo shiri tai

You’re wondering who I am, this reception desk man
In my chair of rattan, I hatch a devious plan

I’ve got a secret I've been plotting in my sneaky mind
My nails are dirty, my breath is smelly, no sense is here
So if you see me acting strangely don't be surprised
I’m just a shit with an agenda, and squinty black eyes
Your visit's awry, I'll throw it awry
Because I lie, it's all awry

You want your car parked? Around the corner, right in the ghetto
You want the iron? Wait three hours, I slept in today
My stoner flunky will be no help when I'm not around
And expect to share a bathroom with the rest of your floor
You're in my control, it's you I control
I keep your breakfast vouchers, I'm a whore

I am the screwed up man, who hides behind a mask
So no one else can see my true identity

Domo arigato, Mr. Morocco, domo... domo
Domo arigato, Mr. Morocco, domo... domo
Domo arigato, Mr. Morocco, domo... domo

Thank you very much, Mr. Morocco
For doing nothing I needed you to
And thank you very much, Mr. Morocco
For pissing me off when I last needed you to
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you
I want to thank you, please, thank you

The problem's plain to see: too much idiocy
You fuck up our lives, through your shady guise.

The time has come at last
To throw away this mask
So everyone can see
My true identity…
I’m Dumbass! Dumbass! Dumbass! Dumbass!

Hmph. May the fleas of a million yetis infest his armpits and nether regions. I tried in vain to book us in somewhere else, but the Oracle had spoken: San Francisco was stuffed to la gills, meaning we were stuck in La Victoriana.

Hmph again. I had la anxiety attack, followed by la whine, la pout and la suckfest. Then plenty of hugs from Sandy, who assured me that he wasn’t a diva, was okay in general, and the most important thing was that we were together. La cuteness. La butterflies. La realization that I’m a super lucky girl. La smooch.

Needless to say, our trip hadn’t gotten off on the best foot, and it was time to remedy that with the rest of our day. We ixnayed showers in favour of hailing another cab, and riding off to Chinatown.

Finally, San Francisco. The cab punted up and down the crazy hills on that absolutely gorgeous California day, while Sandy and I took in everything we don’t get at home: palm trees, ocean, gigantic suspension bridges and scores of authentic VW Bugs. Toss in some unbelievable food, the most colourful folk on this here planet, and it’s no wonder why I keep coming back again and again. It’s just so bloody easy to leave your heart in San Francisco.

The cabbie dropped us off on Kearny, and it was all of a few steps to the House of Nanking restaurant. If you’ve never been, write it down on your list of culinary goals, immediately. My first time to Frisco was with Oli, and we’d taken a local’s advice to eat there. The huge lineup and less than glamorous décor turned us off and we decided to leave, until the people in front of us in line convinced us to stay. It was worth it, they said, and we weren’t disappointed. We’d come back the next night, then the next year, and again two years after that.

Mr. Nanking, I will crave your shrimp fried rice forever. Your BBQ pork is just to die for, and your Imperial Rolls leave me breathless. I will admit I was somewhat disappointed to see that you gave the place a facelift – the yellow linoleum, cracked ceiling and mismatched chairs gave the place a certain charm – but glad to see that you were still there, as always, taking down orders with a quickety-quickness.

We ordered a happy balance of all four food groups, then tucked in to enjoy our first real, and most magnificent meal of the day. Oyvey. Lost luggage, smelly hair, La Victoriana and Mr. Morocco all faded away, if just for that moment, to me, Sandy, great weather, and greater Chinese food.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Starbucks The Way I See It #80

Anger is a vital life force. Channeled artistically or nondestructively, it has the power to move worlds.
Alanis Morisette

So sayeth she who sold just how many Jagged Little Pill albums based on this philosophy?


She's right, though. Anger is a vital life force. At first glance you'll be tempted to think otherwise, when you notice just how many bad things in this world come from anger: abuse, violence, corruption.

But then think how many good things come from anger, when it's used in a positive way. Free Tibet concerts, the One campaign, and Take Back the Night. I'm guessing Martin Luther King Jr. would never be in our history books if he'd just been feeling dandy all the time.

It's the overall drive to do better, is what it is. I don't like this about the world, therefore I want it to change. I don't like this about my life, therefore I want it to change.

I don't like this about me. Therefore, I must change.

Anger is not a positive emotion, at least that's what we're taught. But whenever you really looked at yourself in the mirror or put your life under the magnifying glass, was it happiness that made you want to make a difference, or make you strive for more?

In most cases, I'm totally confident in saying, I think not.

I know not.

The angriest I've ever been in my life, hands down, was at a certain someone bent on making me miserable. It didn't destroy me, rather, it took me down the exact road I needed to be on: letting go.

Maybe sometimes, a good dose of anger is just what you need.

Does it sound weird to say, become friends with your anger? It's not out to get you, rather, it wants to be happy just as much as you do. If fed the proper way, like everything in our lives, it could be just the ingredient we need for that bigger difference.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Day 1 1/4: The Air Up There

Kafluffle over and once again dressed, Sandy and I collect our things and dash through the almost empty terminal in search of the breakfast of champions.

The coffee shop is closed. The sandwich store is closed. T.G.I. Fridays is open, and we engage in heavy debate: do we really feel like French fries before the sun comes up? When the announcer woman gets her butt on the intercom to announce that flight bla bla bla is boarding.

Cheese Louise, that’s us. So much for breakfast. We board, we sit, we takeoff and share a cold $2 blueberry muffin unearthed from the bowels of American Airlines. I know airline money is tight these days and typed on most tickets is, “Food for Purchase,” but can’t they at least make the effort to sell something passable? Who on earth likes cold muffins?

Anyhoo, while on the flight, we waste no time whatsoever in joining the Mile High Club. Nah, we didn’t do that. Too stuffy, too cramped and by gum, too early.

And too gross. I know it may sound all adventurous and exciting to have sex at 30,000 feet, and I’m sure it is if you’re in the Concorde bathroom, but American Airlines coach in the A.M. is a bit of a different story. One might say it’s not too far from the notion of two Mexican jumping beans frolicking in a thimble, with loud flushing noises in the background.

Thus, we behaved like normal passengers. We napped, we talked, complained about lack of leg room, and watched the Pixar movie Cars. We held hands, kissed a few times, and did all that normal disgusting stuff that couples do. Nausea, I tell you.

We had a connector in Texas, but our plane touched down in Dallas almost a half hour late. Hello, Dallas! Goodbye, Dallas. Seriously, that's all it was. Exit from gate B10, u-turn Wolfgang Puck's, then check in at gate B11. We barely made it in time to get settled into our seats, purchase a $5 snack box complete with raisins and pepperoni stick, then watch The Lake House.

A movie about two people that find each other through difficult (read: ridiculous) circumstances because they are meant to be. Prophetic, perhaps? Stay tuned.

Uneventful flights are the best kind, though Sandy let me squeeze his hand when the turbulence got a little too frantic for me. Airport Neurosis. We landed, got our stuff and booted down to pickup, but the effort had been for naught. American Airlines had lost our bags.

Me: “I thought pigeon crap was supposed to be good luck!”

He: “Me too!”


Thursday, November 02, 2006

Why do I not like my job?

Lack of growth, really. I’m stuck typing, and that’s it. Snobbery, partly. I really want to be in my field.

Now, why do I love my job?

My students, naturally. They are a joy to be with. And I especially love those key moments when the universe wags its finger at me and says, “Today you were meant to be nowhere else but here.”

My only scheduled work evenings are Thursday nights, a four hour class filled to the brim with students in training to become Educational Assistants.

The people in this room are nowhere near as educated as I am, and most likely never will be. Yet I am unbelievably humbled in their presence, all of these souls who have dedicated their lives to those very special children in need of a helping hand.

If the world ran on goodness, the gas tank could be filled from the energy in this room.

Instructor Trevor is a veteran teacher with years of experience, and a caffeine addiction evident in his shaking hands. He says many things and repeats himself so constantly, the notes are full of redundancies.

Now, why am I supposed to be here tonight? For the exact same reason you are supposed to be here, reading these words that Trevor spoke not 10 minutes ago:

“Don’t let the negativity get you down. Don’t concentrate on it, just go out and celebrate every moment in life, and do everything you can do.

Look for the possibilities, not the limitations. Don’t let anything hold you back. Look at the possibility to get to that limitation, then attack it.

If anything is constant in modern society, it’s change. It’s happening. Either you start to cope with it and ride the change, or that change is going to be waving you goodbye.

You have to allow yourself to change, you have to allow yourself to cope, and you have to allow yourself to move forward.

If you are happy, the people around you will be happy.”


Day 1: Exodus & Poo

Whoever thought I’d be making a second journey to the airport this year, for the second adventure of a lifetime? With Sandy? Sandy?

Certainly not me. I’m still finding the whole “me and him” thing completely unbelievable. Every now and then I’ll look at him and think, Good Lord, I’m looking at, holding hands with and kissing Sandy. And then I giggle.

I confessed that to him a few weeks ago, that every now and then I’d take a sideways glance and be completely “duh” that he was around at all. He jokingly retorted back, “Get over it, woman!”

I know he does the same thing, though. That night before we left for California, we were at his house having a bite to eat when he looked at me and said, out of the blue, “What the hell are you doing in my kitchen?”

Not as in, “Why are you here and get out right now,” but more like, “How on earth did you get here, and isn’t it just the coolest?”

Very nice. Some blushing. Another giggle. And a, “Get over it, man!”

We’re just so great that way. But anyhow, I again digress, so let’s get back to the trip before I get into a huge gusher.

Our flight was scheduled for 7am Saturday morning. Not an ungodly hour, but thanks to mega airport checks and mountains of red tape to get through before actually setting foot on any plane, we had to be at the airport before five. Ugh.

I’d crashed at Sandy’s place. He’d picked me up at the units’ house, where the vast majority of my luggage is stored, where he very politely shook hands with my dad, hugged my mom, and pet Bluetooth on the head. Nice boy. And then, he helped me haul one gigantic suitcase, a carryon, and my computer bag out of the house and into his truck.

I’d love to be a light traveler, but it just doesn’t happen when I just happen to be going with someone impress-able. You need your day clothes, your nice clothes, your knockout clothes, and that sexy moleskin jacket that transforms you into Linda Evangelista on a Tuesday.

We were up before the roosters, groomed and ready just in time to reload my bags and his into the airport taxi. It was all of a 20 minute ride to the terminal and we were barely halfway through lining our suitcases up on the curb, when Sandy looked over at me and said, “Hey, a bird just crapped on your bag!”

He always jokes around, so I didn’t think twice about it. “Whatever.”

“No really, a bird just crapped on your bag!”

I looked over at my carryon, and there it was: a nice, fresh pile of bird doo. Right on the zipper. I looked up to see a stupid, overfed pigeon sitting its fat ass on a steel beam, mocking me. “I crapped on your bag… I crapped on your baaaag…”

The sun isn’t up, I’m at terminal three with Sandy, we’re dead tired, I’m in the throes of Airport Neurosis, and a pigeon has just pooped on my pretty red bag. What else can I do but laugh?

He laughed, too. “You know, Italians say that means good luck for a year.”

Our corner of Eastern Europe says the same thing. Doesn’t mean I want to keep it there, though. We got all our stuff inside, and Sandy waited with everything at the end of the gynormous check-in line, while I wheeled the piece in question to the bathroom, and did my best to clean the shit off. It was all wedged into the zipper, and smelled funny. Damn bird.

Check-in was painless and customs, for the first time ever, was a lark. Normally, the American officers sit there all stern-like, their shiny badges blinding you while they ask stupid questions like, “Purpose of visit? Are you staying with friends? What is the nature of your love life? Is your hair naturally curly?” and etc.

Mr. Customs Official started me out with purpose of visit and where are you staying, then got right into the place of employment deal. I rattled off the name of my college, and then he asked what I did for a living. I started to laugh and told him that I note take for the deaf and to my pleasant surprise, he joined right on in. “Someone has to do it,” he said, and commended me for being a well-rounded person who is sweet enough to make such a difference in the community.

Uh huh. I’m sure if he knew my hourly rates, he would have pulled me aside to rape my bags. Moving along, then.

Phase One and Two of the Check-In system complete, we now moved on to the really fun part: the beep thing. This is where you walk through the gigantic door frame, and it beeps if you’re wearing any metal. Nasty looking airport employees are waiting on the other side, with spacey looking billy clubs to probe and poke you for extra shiny objects. I have a theory that they’re not really detectors at all, but stun guns.

Pre 9/11, this wasn’t such a bad thing. You emptied the change from your pockets, walked through the doorless frame, got a quick scan and went on your way.

Nowadays, not so. Lose the change and keys first, not to mention any extra girl jewellery, put them in a plastic dog dish, and send them through the x-ray. You take put your purse into a bin, and send it through the x-ray. You take your computer out of your carryon, put that in a bin, and send it through the x-ray. Your carryon is too big for a bin, but goes along the conveyor and through the x-ray anyway. Off comes your jacket, then your belt, then your shoes, and they get their own bin to - you got it - go through the x-ray.

After all this, you hold on to your pants for dear life and go through the beep thing. The Gestapo await on the other side to probe and poke you, and if you pass the blood and urine tests, they stamp you “Safe to Fly.”

As you can imagine, all these extra bins and calls for strip teases make the beep area a pretty crowded place. If you’re lucky your bags don’t get assaulted for a second round; unfortunately, if you haven’t watched the news and heeded the No Liquids on the Plane policy, your contact solutions and expensive colognes get taken away.

Sandy and I are walking around shoeless in terminal three, and I am doing my best not to howl. Airports have become armpits of tension, and it would be frowned upon to actually laugh in these situations.

I couldn’t help it though, and got a few smirks in while we were putting our shoes back on. There we were, semi-dressed among dozens of people, not a one of us wearing a jacket, cardigan or belt, and all wandering around on the dirty floor in our socks.

An odd 30 or so people getting dressed all at the same time. Questionable activities may come to mind.

Imagine that.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I work with four different students this semester, but as always, half my time belongs to Mia.

I’ve worked with Mia for all two plus years I’ve been at this job, and she is easily the biggest reason why I have yet to leave. She’s a very sweet girl in the graphic design program at the college, and is my height with brown curly hair, and huge hazel eyes.

Mia has a very gentle personality, and we joke around together all the time. She’s the kid sister I never had.

I was a few minutes late yesterday; not for the class itself, but later than I usually am. I blew through the room, whirlwind style, and rushed around in a flurry to get my laptop booted and setup in time for lecture.

Mia tapped on my arm, and I turned to face her. “You look so different today,” she said.

“Really?” I typed out for her. “Different how?”

“You look so good,” she smiled at me, and I had to smile back with a gesture of thanks. “No really, you look very pretty.”

Well, now. Mia may not know me better than I know myself, but she sees me almost every single day, and is one of the few people bound to notice a difference. Should one ever happen, that is.

I was tempted to ask her what made me so different that day as compared to every other day, but by then her professor had launched into a super boring discussion on the design of Annual Reports, leaving me to ponder my own devices.

I look so different, I look even pretty. Is it because I’ve lost a bit of weight?

Maybe a little.

Is it because I’ve had to go shopping recently to buy new, smaller clothes that actually fit me?

Maybe a little.

Is it because I’ve been wearing my hair loose and wild, in its natural state, and not clipped back all the time?

Maybe a little.

Then again, maybe it’s because I’ve just returned from an amazing California holiday? Or that I’m wearing a touch of makeup here and there? Or that I’m smiling more? Walking taller? Or that the one boy I thought about all these years is back in my life, in the most wonderful of ways?

Maybe maybe maybe a little.

Then again, how about a combination of All of the Above?

Maybe a lot.

It never dawned upon me how important this path would become. I wouldn’t get off it for the world.

Forge on, little one. Forge on.