Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009- the A(compishment)-List

Prompted by the always-inspirational Ms. Sarah Von, I thought I'd record my accomplishments for 2009. It's been so easy to look at this past year in terms of all the things I didn't get done, but when I sum it all up it doesn't look all that bad:

-Hiked Volcan Pacaya (and thought I was going to die! but didn't!)
-Took and passed my social work licensing exam
-Graduated from grad school for the second time in two years
-Formed and led a support group
-Approved a handful of families to become adoptive parents and helped some of them welcome beautiful children into their lives
-Published my first piece of academic work
-Moved across the country
-Went to Alaska and ate dessert(Baked Alaska!) on top of a glacier
-Organized a Christmas party for 110 of my closest relatives, a conference for a bunch of high-level academics, hosted an Easter brunch, a bachelorette party (with nun drag queen bingo!), and threw myself a great/sad going away party
-Interviewed midwives in Guatemala about their training
-Baked one perfect batch of French macarons
-Rang in the New Year in France and traveled to Guatemala, Alaska, Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, California, and Massachusetts and Panama (by accident)and touristed around the cities I lived in

Here's hoping 2010 is just as full of adventures!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Go home and blog about it

Actually I am home. Watching MTV Cribs for the first time in like 10 years. 50 cent has a stripper pole in his house. I don't know why I've been depriving myself of this stuff for the last decade.

It's hard to know when to take holidays or vacation time when your on vacation all the time (whaa.... annoying yet?). Anyway, I decided to Christmas-ify this evening. Ashley and I went shopping for Christmas card supplies and then went to the Sports Basement- which is a huge discount sports store. Sporting stores and sporting in general usually aren't my cup of tea, but this place totally inspires me to buy sporting equipment- which I hope will lead to athleticism (as long as you have the shoes for the occasion...). Plus they serve hot beverages and I generally find free drinks inspire me to buy stuff. Tonight I'm home writing x-mas cards and drinking hot chocolate. Seems like Christmastime.

This past weekend was my family Christmas party. I organized the most of the shindig and decided that we were going to eat tamales, because they are traditional (if you are Mexican- we are not) and because I had no interest in cooking for 150 of my closest family members. I also apparently delegated bartending duties to a three year-old.

Also last week, I went to New York and Boston on a whirlwind trip. I totally missed out on seeing a good 75% of the people I wanted to in those respective places, but I did manage to travel for over 10 hours per day on 4 of the 5 days of my trip. Manic travel makes me feel like myself again. Photos and stories to follow.

*The title of this blog post is in reference to a night a few winters ago. My friend Mike went to a dance party at the planetarium at the Museum of Natural History. Sarah and I intended on going to meet up with him, but got so involved in pregaming that we never quite made it. Apparently Kanye West came and surprised the party with a secret set. He ended the night by yelling into the audience "Go home and blog about it!"

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Reminder

Dear New York,
Thanks for reminding me how very warm San Francisco is. You really rolled out the red carpet with this 5 degree weather.
All the best,

Friday, December 4, 2009

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Three Day Old Curry

Wow, it's been a long(ish) time. How was your Thanksgiving? I'm already on my third night of Turkey curry.

It's interesting to me that my mother won't go out for Indian food, but she has few qualms about turning the majority of a 22-pound turkey into curry and leaving it in her single daughter's fridge. Between this and the stuffing, mashed potatoes and an excess of condiments, I'm in the no food/no space for new food version of rock/hard place.

What else is new? Yesterday I went sailing on the Bay with my Uncle Bob. For as long as I can remember he's had a sail boat in the Bay. When I was a kid he used to let me steer the boat. Yesterday he again let/made me take the wheel. Somehow it was much, much scarier than when I was a child. The whole way out to Alcatraz I was convinced that I was going to flip the boat, though he swore it wasn't possible. On the way back the wind wasn't in our favor and we mostly stayed in place or sailed backward. We picked up my father on the pier near our apartment and he and my uncle tied all the important knots and raised and lowered the sail. My father has always known how to do all kinds of handy things like sail a boat, and fiberglass a sink, and fly fish... Somehow I assumed that I, or at least my brothers, would eventually know how to do all these things. Just as I figured that I would eventually know how to cook meat and grow vegetables, like my mother, despite vegetarianism and urban-dwelling in my formative years. I guess osmosis doesn't work that way.

Wow, that paragraph was all over the map.

What else? I'm still waiting to hear about the dream job. I interviewed a few weeks ago, but haven't heard anything. In this instance I don't think that no news is good news. In any case, I'm honored to have interviewed for something I'm super under-qualified (but passionate) about.

I spent the majority of the morning daydreaming about receiving a billion frequent flyer miles for Christmas and backpacking through Southeast Asia. I even made a dream itinerary and budget. My younger brother is going on his way to Australia and I've decided that we should travel together for a few weeks. When I told him about my scheme to drive cross-country with him he claimed there isn't enough room in his car. He'll have to come up with a new excuse now!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Why Don't I Do This All The Time?

This photo doesn't directly relate to this post. It's a photo I took in China while on a giant tour bus on the way to an orphanage. There had been some mix-up when a tour guide had arranged our plans. Our large group had split into two and I was only traveling with two families while 17 others went to a different region of China. On our way to the orphanage we came across this market which was set up in the middle of the street. All of the sudden we were on this giant bus trying to make a three point turn in a middle of a market. I remember having this fleeting moment wondering if this farmer's market meant we weren't going to be able to adopt these children. It was a strange thought, on a strange bus with only four other passengers.

Yesterday I went to dim sum. Supposedly some of the best dim sum in San Francisco. Or so says Yelp, and SF Magazine and all the other electronic sources that I consult before making brunch plans. Or dinner plans. Or anytime I leave the house. It also happens to be a few blocks from "my" apartment. Anyway, after an early morning trip across town to play with some visiting cousin babies, my mom and I went out for dim sum.

We ate steaming plates of dumplings, spicy green beans with dried shrimp (which I'm just now getting okay with admitting I like), Peking duck and sesame balls. My mom listened while I reminisced about traveling in China, and then about going out for Dim Sum in New York, and then about my friend who works on a China adoption program, and then about a walking tour through Chinatown...

After lunch I came home and laid on the couch for hours and looked at apartments I can't afford on Craigslist. Sometime in the afternoon I ended up g-chating with my best cousin friend. She told me that she spent the morning at the gym and officially "broke the seal" and that from here on out it should be easier to convince herself to go to the gym all winter. I told her I felt the same way when I went to the gym. And the same way about dim sum.

My Superego wants me to eat more dumplings and workout more regularly.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Progress or Something Like It

I've decided to dive right into my 30-before-30 list and have actually made significant efforts towards some of my goals:

Sew a wearable dress
I ordered a book called Sew U, a book by the good folks at Built By Wendy. Just now in writing this, I realized that the book doesn't actually include a dress pattern. Guess I'll be making a shirt, skirt and pants. Good thing I gave myself almost three years. I'm also contemplating taking a Sewing 101 class at a new place in SF called the Workshop. They teach all kinds of classes, like Mixology and Silk Screening. The class I really want to take is called "Rock and Roll Sewing for Dudes".

Find the "right" shade of red lipstick
Last weekend my cousin Stephanie convinced me to come shopping with her, despite my vow to give the retail world a rest for a few months. I agreed to go on the condition that we would go to Sephora so I could work on one of my goals. In retrospect, my lipstick searching approach was entirely wrong. I asked a sales lady for help choosing a shade and had her put it on me. One of the reasons this goal was on my list in the first place is that I never wear lipstick at all. It all just makes me look like a clown with huge lips, and nothing ever looks red on me, it all turns into an orangey pink. After she drew on some fish lips, I had a hard time telling whether or not I hated the color itsef or just my giant lips. I complained that they looked big, to which she responded "that's the point." It appears the point of lipstick is lost on me. But I was determined to complete at least one goal. So I picked out a "red" lipstick and brought it home- only to later realize that it was pink and my lips were just stained red from all the lipstick trying on. My lipstick/goal fail was further reinforced when I went over to Stephanie's that evening and she showed me all of her red-red lipsticks. Guess I'm still searching.

Get certified as an HIV Counselor
So, unlike grad school, you actually have to have a guarantee that you will use your training in order to be certified as an HIV counselor in San Francisco. In order to register for classes you have to have a sponsoring organization. I did some research and called the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic to look into volunteering for them. It turns out that you have to start answering phones and scheduling appointments, and if a space opens of in their HIV unit in a few months you can move into being trained for it. While I recognize the importance of having people working at all levels, I really was hoping for something that would call on my social work skill set a little more directly. I'm still thinking about it, but also looking for other volunteer work.

Go on a road trip through "The South"
My younger brother has been living and working in Mobile, Alabama for the past year. It's been far from ideal for him and now he's (happily) being transferred much further south to Melbourne, Australia- the perfect place for a guy whose major interests are beer, rugby and surfing. Somehow between now and the beginning of 2010 his car needs to get to California, and I am trying to be the person who helps make that possible! I haven't announced this plan to my brother, yet. Announcing it on my blog seemed like the logical place to start.

So, in summary, nothing's crossed off the list yet but I'm taking baby steps towards some of these things.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Way Job Interviews Should Be

You walk in- they know who you are.
There are huge, chewy chocolate chip cookies.
You meet the whole staff- each person more friendly and fashionable than the next.
They understand your resume, know your previous employers and mentors.
They treat you like a professional.
There's a giant puppy hanging out under the desk.
The Assistant Director comes in and you geek out over the latest research on identity development in adult adoptees.
The Director gives you her cell phone number and tells you to call any time.
You are asked what kind of cases you want: domestic or international? single parent or two-parent? Or... refugee foster youth cases?
All of the above, please.

Hello new (part-time, contract) job, I love you.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Television for the Restless

I'm generally happiest when living out of my backpack. Even though one of my goals in moving to San Francisco was to finally get to a place in my life where all of my furniture does not need to collapse for easy moving, I'm not entirely ready to give up my nomadic ways. These days my passport isn't getting much action, but I'm still able to live vicariously through two of my new favorite shows. (Newsflash: I watch TV now.)

::Man Shops Globe::

If, for some reason, the whole International Child Welfare Superhero thing doesn't work out, I want this guy's job. Man Shops Globe is about Keith Johnson, the head buyer for the home department of Anthropologie. It follows him as he travels the globe in search of the most interesting furniture, art and other home-related goodies. He goes everywhere from attic art galleries in rural France to large touristy sukhs in Tunisia.

Dream job, right? As someone who considers her "happy place" to be Kaneshi Market in Accra, Ghana, I think I'm cut out for this gig. Just imagine how big my basket collection would get!

::This Is My City::

Thomas is my tallest friend. Thomas is awesome for lots of different reasons- he always brings the best snacks when he comes over, he is willing to try anything and he loves to travel as much as I do. Once Thomas and I went on an self-guided audiotour of Chinatown and it's still one of my craziest NYC memories. We spied on mob bosses, followed tiny winding allies that lead to huge shopping malls, went to a Buddhist temple, stopped for tea at a hidden teahouse, and watched tai chi in the park. Despite the fact that he thinks there are only five continents, I get the feeling that Thomas would be a great travel partner.

Thomas is capitalizing on his lovable traits (well, not sure about the snack thing) and making a TV show with his friend Tim. They have one rule: don't say "no" to anything. They're traveling around the world and stopping in various cities along the way. In each city they find a guide through a friend-of-a-friend (of-a-friend-of-a-friend...) to show them their city. Along the way they end up doing some pretty crazy things. They're filming the whole thing themselves and doing it on a relatively low budget. My kind of travel show.

You can watch their trailers of their trips to Reykjavik and Philadelphia on their website, You can also read their blog and follow their journey, and then join me in waiting patiently for the full episodes!

It's fun to think about what I would have them do in my new city. Perhaps the Folsom Street Fair or the Alcatraz polar bear swim?

PS: Does anyone know how I can fix this picture so that it is centered rather than cut off of the right side? I'm still learning here.
PPS: That photo was taken in my beloved former home, Fort Knox in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Thomas now lives in my old room.


Do you think they bought it when I try to sell them on my time management an organizational skills.... after I mixed up the day of the interview?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Orphan Doctor or Woman of the Year

This week Dr. Jane Aronson, one of my personal heroes, was named one of Glamour Magazine's Women of the Year. Besides the novelty of having someone in my address book given an award alongside Michelle Obama and Maya Angelou, it is encouraging to see the important work that Dr. Jane does recognized on a national platform.

Dr. Aronson was the one who described granny programs for me as "the best thing since sliced bread." Her model of hiring widows from the community to come in and spend hours each day with an individual toddler works towards negating the horrible effects of institutionalization on young children. Granny programs are just one of the many important projects that The Worldwide Orphans Foundation, her organization, provides to better the lives of orphans around the world.

(Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Plus, she has great taste in eyewear- something else near and dear to my heart.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

30-Something Before 30 or Accountability to the Masses

I turn 30 in approximately 33 months. I thought I would create one of those popular 30-before-30 lists. Because I'm a bit of a slacker it might be good to give myself more than 30 months. And so, without further ado...

::30 Before 30::

1. Rent a fancy Winnebago (cash contingency plan- borrow my parents camper van for the weekend)

2. Visit a sixth continent- South America!

3. Submit an editorial to a major paper

4. Bake perfect French macarons

5. Own a custom upholstered sofa or chair

6. Perfect the crow pose in yoga

7. Sew a wearable dress

8. Ask a stranger out

9. Read the tattered copy of A Tree Grows In Brooklyn that I have been carrying around for the past 14 years

10. Tailor/hem all of my clothes so they fit properly

11. Take a road trip through “The South”

12. Grow vegetables and herbs and then eat them

13. Go on a photo scavenger hunt

14. Form and lead another support group

15. Relearn the subjunctive tense in Spanish

16. Get certified as an HIV counselor

17. Upkeep a blog for six months

18. Discover my cocktail of choice

19. Camp in Big Sur

20. Find the perfect Little Black Dress

21. Learn the names of the different kinds of clouds

22. Jog across the Golden Gate Bridge

23. Try ear candling

24. Go on a juice fast for three days

25. Take a digital photography/lighting class

26. Go internet-free for a week

27. Find the "right" shade of red lipstick

28. Closely follow a baseball team for a season

29. Get fitted for contacts

30. Take the ferry across the bay to Heath Ceramics and buy a seconds coffee mug

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Hey Ashley,

I love your new Sketch Blog. I'm floored by all of the talents our friends have. Who knew we had such artistic friends? Apparently, you did.

I'm feeling a little bit lame cause most of my Moleskin is filled with lists. I guess it's no secret that I'm more analytical than artistic. I think it was you who said that I speak like a grant report (and then corrected yourself to say "a sexy grant report").

So, in the spirit of sketch booking/list-making, I've written a list for you.

::Things I've Done in San Francisco::
  • Been to two large outdoor free weekend-long music festivals in Golden Gate Park.
  • Gone kayaking in the Bay and flipped over my kayak.
  • Purchased my first "real" bike and was thrown over the handle bars within the first ten blocks.
  • Attended a dinner party where someone was wearing sweats.
  • Attended a different dinner party where they served pot brownies for dessert.
  • Was interviewed for the nightly news on my thoughts on MUNI free-loading riders.
  • Grown obsessed with Samusa Soup from Burma Superstar.
  • Applied for approximately 1 billion jobs.
  • Read the entire internet.

Settling Down or Setting Myself Up for Disappointment

Confession: I have a huge crush. It's consuming all my thoughts and try as I might, I can't seem to concentrate on anything else. I have butterflies in my stomach and toss and turn for most of the night between dreams of what could be. It's been awhile since I've felt this way. Earlier this week I found out that some of the feelings might be mutual and it's only gotten worse since then.

Confession: my new crush is on a job. But, as Ashley says, it's totally foxy and just my type. This job is also in New York, which brings with it all sorts of layers of complexity (wasn't I trying to "settle" in California? And, am I really ready to settle?) and simplicity (like, my stuff's all still packed! And, I have a New York driver's license!). In any case, I hear they're interested in me and want to set up an interview. Or maybe they just told me that so I would stop sending unsolicited letters of recommendation.

Over the past week I've been so focused on this job posting, this possibility of throwing myself into the work I love that I've been unable to even be motivated enough to apply for other jobs. Over the past few years I've been split between running full speed ahead into clinical social work and beefing up the administrative/geeky research version of my resume. However, this seems like the kind of thing I'd be willing to settle down with and be exclusive. Here's to hoping the feeling is mutual!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Life as a Troll or Turn Back on the City

I live under the Bay Bridge. Not like under the overpass. More of a crazy apartment that I live in by my lonesome. It's short-lived and it belongs to my parents and even if I don't technically live with them, I live in their space and it's a big adjustment after being on my own for almost 10 years. That aside, I'm insanely lucky and pretty sure it's the only time in my life I'll live right on the waterfront in a major city- funny how my fancy living space and unemployment are colliding.

My temporary swanky pad is right underneath Bay Bridge, which happens to be falling apart. In the two months I've been here there have been major closures of the bridge twice. First they closed the bridge for a long-planed "remodeling" project and while it was closed they discovered a structural problem that kept the bridge closed on several occasions over the past month.

I don't have a car and I rarely have a reason to go to the East Bay- so it makes no difference to me whether or not the bridge is opened or closed. The only difference is that it feels like someone turned off the city when the bridge is closed. As I'm right up against the water's edge and most of the surrounding buildings are large, sterile skyscrapers, the only city noise is the bridge. When the bridge is closed I could just about anywhere, though the round windows facing the water make me think that I might be on a cruise ship.

Speaking of cruise ships (did I really just use that transition?), they occasionally tie ships to the pier across the street. The pier is mostly used as a parking lot but every few weeks it turns into a loading dock for cruise ships. Or the circus sets up. Or the founder of Gap dies and they spend all week setting up the fanciest tent I've ever seen for his memorial service (but cheaped out the port-a-potties- seriously?) Anyway, when they bring it cruise ships it is almost silent. I live on the eighth floor and when I look out in the building it looks as if they parked a building across the street. It is also the same when the boats leave. Two different times I've been sitting in the living room and not noticed the building across the street floating away.

A few weeks ago was Fleet Week and a huge Navy boat tied up to the pier across the street. I've never been someone who falls for a man in a uniform. That cliche has never worked for me, but there are plenty of others I'm into. However, the idea of wandering around the port and swooning over men in white who have been out to sea for unknown lengths does sound romantic. And I want to go to one of those dances and wear a tailored suit with a pillbox hat. And then possibly out for eggmalts afterwards with Flo and the girls. Right... Anyway, I took my usual passive and unsuccessful approach to dating and watched Fleet Week from my balcony.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Here vs. There or Just Another Friday Night at the (Home) Movies

Hi friends,

It's official. Or rather, it's been official for over two months. I'm a little slow on the uptake and so it's just starting to sink in now that I live on the West Coast. I've moved "home"- home in every sense except the one where I live in the town/house I grew up in.

As a perma-traveler there is little more I like than comparing regional differences in the places I've lived- my favorite is the wide-sweeping "East Coast vs. West Coast". I also enjoy the "Boston vs. New York" and, now that my little brother is moving to Melbourne, the "Australia vs. the U.S."

I wasn't a fan of the "Boston vs. New York" comparison when I lived in New England. Compared to my hometown, Santa Cruz, my new college town, Boston, felt like a thriving metropolis. And it was- subways, ethnically distinct neighborhoods, major league teams, the works. However, to the New Yorkers in my class it was a small town- a subway that shut down at night, White people everywhere, and a baseball team that hadn't won the World Series in decades. I quickly grew tired of listening to kids from Long Island talk longingly of The City in a way I felt belittled my urban experience. Before I followed the well-worn path from Boston to New York, I promised myself I wouldn't publicly bemoan the lack of 24-hour diners when I left The City.

Now that I'm "home" I find myself constantly talking about New York. But it's my New York I miss- coffee at Cafe Grumpy and solo-midweek brunches at Eat Records, reading the New York Times in the park, the long walk from the Bedford L train home, watching the demographics shift the further uptown you get, brick buildings and the cobblestone street on Jones Street, papusas on sunny Sunday mornings at the Red Hook Ball fields, and most especially- a million little rituals and inside jokes with some people who made me feel like I won the friends lottery.

In the same way it's off-putting to frequently talk about an ex with the new person you're dating- I'm worried the same is true for your new city. It's harder to fall in love when someone's stuck on the last person/city. Try as hard as I do to sulk, San Francisco is here with it's arms open ready to embrace me in it's foggy blanket (or is that a cloud of pot smoke?) and welcome me back home.