July 30, 2008

"Um, is crazy okay?"

Just when I think that think that things can't possibly go any better, just when I think I can't feel any happier about this, just when I think this can't possibly continue to work so well--I mean, my novelty must be wearing off by now--they do, I do, and it does. Is it really possible that "it" is here? It seems that if that were true, meteors would be careening toward earth and hell would be freezing over and there would have been five blue moons in one month. To my knowledge, they're not, it's not, and there haven't been...

July 29, 2008


I want to tell you about:

• the shabby girl with dirty, holey socks who watched another child’s humiliation and, for years, used it as affirmation of her own lack of worth and her secret fear that other would discover that she actually is that shabby little girl.

• the ugly girl who always felt she had to smile—no matter what.

• the impish girl who wants someone who will throw the waffle back.

• the fearful girl who is afraid she’ll put her heart into it and it will still be really stupid or ridiculous or—at best—not nearly good enough.

• the traveling girl who dreamed of jumping out of the boat and swimming in the light.

• the tearful girl who comforted herself by pretending someone was tucking her into bed.

• the skeptical girl who wrote a letter to her minister asking how—if God was so great—he would send people who grew up on a remote and isolated island and had know way of knowing about him to hell for not believing in him. And added that she didn’t buy that Jesus fed all those people with one loaf of bread and one fish.

• the brave girl who is not scared of the dark.

• the earnest girl who cared so much about detail in her drawings that she obsessed over how to draw Santa with enough toys in his sleigh for all the children in the world and who blossomed under her first grade teacher’s praise.

• the silly girl who hides in the closet when she is feeling playful.

• the joyful girl who sings in the shower when she is happy.

• the resourceful girl who is good at taking care of herself.

• the creative girl who took pride in the shoes she colored with magic marker but, after seeing others’ reactions to them, was silently shamed and embarrassed and humiliated and never wore them again.

• the protective girl who never told her friend the terrible things people were saying.

• the dreamy girl who is hopeful. Eternally hopeful.

• the lonely girl who comforted herself by pretending someone was tucking her into bed.

• the sentimental girl who would swallow her gum on the days of important events in an attempt to keep a piece of them with her for seven years.

• the damaged girl who always had one foot out the door.

• the optimistic girl who wants to bring her foot back inside and close the door.

For now, though, I will just tuck them away.

July 27, 2008

The best present. Ever.

A few weeks ago, my friend Bob said he had a present for me. I’d run into he and Jenny at the grocery store and he said, “I wish I had known I was going to see you; I would have brought it.” I probed for hints, but he would give none. “I’ll give it to you later,” he said, “if I don’t throw it away.”

I couldn’t even imagine what he had for me. “So it was just something you saw and thought of me?” I asked. He affirmed this was true.

The next couple of times we saw each other he dropped a few hints. “It took awhile to grow to it’s full size,” he told me.

“Is it ALIVE?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said thoughtfully.

Last night at Suzie and Amber’s there was a present waiting for me that looked like this:

Bob's present

He said, “I hope it’s okay if your birds eat things that are alive once in awhile…” Admittedly I was a little freaked out. There were air holes poked in the box. He’d rigged up a rock on a twisted rubber band to make a skittering sound against the side of the box when I picked it up. He’d put in things to throw me off, like an advertisement for electronic fences for dogs. After pulling back and unwrapping all the layers, I got it open.

Brief back story: For the last couple of years, Bob has been a live-in dog walker for a wealthy family in Pacific Heights. The dog’s name is Happy. (There have been many snickers about this.) The family has a Filipina house-keeper that was very passive-aggressive to Bob. She’d given him presents like frozen English muffins and sandwiches with bites taken out of them. She also regularly left him bizarre notes that were sometimes instructions for what he should do and sometimes reprimands for what he had or hadn’t done. She’d leaved them taped to his door with what appears to be blue painter’s tape. Her English is not so hot.

The present was all the notes that she’d left him for the last three months. Hundreds of them all taped end to end and folded up into one giant mass. When I realized what they were I got a little choked up. It’s the best present anyone has ever given me.

Here are a couple of examples.

Bob's notes 1

The top note says:


Mr Newman instruction:
Take care of the house-
Alarm on even you’re inside
Avoid burglary
Avoid fire
He don’t want get heart attack of bad news. He said this house is so precious to him
You feel the same if you have a house.

The bottom note says:

Ice cream for newman only!

Bob's notes 2

The middle note says:

P/S leave the fench thru garden
Happy eat some flowers and her poo-poo

Bob said, “At first they made me angry. Then when I realized you liked this kind of stuff it made them much easier to take. When I’d get one I’d think, ‘Oh, something else to add to Amie’s present.’”

This is the perfect present for me. It’s hard to make someone understand how three months’ worth of notes written by a cranky Filipina lady about a house and a dog named Happy COULD be a perfect present, but they totally are.

July 25, 2008

Um, I got a second job.

I know, I know! It's getting ridiculous. I have been teaching part-time at San Francisco State in the Human Sexuality Studies department. This fall I will be teaching an evening Quantitative Methods course (basically, statistics) in the Sociology department.

You may wonder why I accepted this second position. I'm glad you asked. This is why:

1. I love, love, love teaching statistics. It's easier to tell if you're doing a good job than it is in other classes. If even one of my students can't do a one-way ANOVA, I know it immediately. It's much harder to be able to tease out whether each and every one of them grasps the more theoretical constructs of the other courses, like, "In what ways did footbinding serve to maintain the patriarchy in China for nearly a thousand years?"

2. I need the money, fools. I ain't wealthy or anything. I've got a trip to Europe with Nannette to pay for in a few months. And the car that I need to buy. And the iPod adapter thingy that I'll need to enjoy my music during my commute. And--don't forget--I need to pay for those pole-dancing lessons and more bikini wax jobs from the infamous Vietnamese waxer-lady, Penney.

3. It's good to have a bit of a back-up plan. While I'm excited about my new full-time job, you just never know. When they find out I do things like take pictures of public bathroom stalls, they might be a little alarmed. I don't want to burn all my other bridges.


I just asked someone to marry me...

...the man who wrote this. You may remember him from my link to his blog about explaining Eminem's lyrics to a Japanese tutee.

Read this. You won't be sorry. Your day will improve dramatically.


[Setting: At Lucky 13, a bar near Church and Market in San Francisco, where a sad, twangy country song was inexplicably playing. Loud.]

A: Jeez.

S: What?

A: I feel like my wife just left me.

S: She did.

A: Fucking bitch.

S: You're better off without her.

No te preocupes.

Alternative title for this blog: A racecar grin

Well, as of today I officially accepted the job I was offered. When we were negotiating my package, my new boss said, "I'm more than happy to pay for your move to Los Altos..." To this I responded, "There won't be any move! I'm staying in San Francisco!" She thought I was crazy and I said, "Well, if makes you feel better you can put that moving money toward my new car..." (Not surprisingly, this didn't go over so well.) She's the kind of boss who puts emoticons into her email messages and, having already had lunch with her, I felt comfortable making this joke.

When I accepted the position over the phone she cried, "I'm so thrilled! Really? You've made my day!" I said, "Wow! You've totally made mine!" We worked out the details and I start Aug. 4. I'm totally and completely free until then so if you're in town and wanna hang out...or outta town and wanna come hang out...

A couple of people have asked me about why this 401K business bothers me. The short answer is that it means I'm going to die. Or wear adult diapers. Probably both. But hey! I'm siding on the bright look: I won't have to survive on a grad school or postdoc salary anymore.

I am really happy. Seriously. The last two weeks have brought about changes in my life that I never could have seen coming. This evening an old friend from grad school was in town, so I was waiting for the bus at 25th and Geary en route to visiting with him. For a brief moment, a postal truck pulled up next to where I was before making a right turn. Written in the dirt on the back of the truck were the words, "No te preocupes." In case your Spanish is minimal or nonexistent, it means, "Don't worry." I loved this. Those words at that moment were a beautiful thing. Fortunately--because I've been carrying my camera almost everywhere I go these days--I was able to quickly snap a picture before it turned.

No te preocupes

I could write a book filled with all the things I never got to say. I think I will.

July 24, 2008

With my mind on my money and...

I wrote this on Tuesday, but was significantly delayed and distracted from posting it here...

I got me a job! I got a job! I got a fucking job! (It was starting to get a little stressful.) I GOT A JOB! I've only interviewed for one so far, but that's the one I got. It's with Sociometrics in Los Altos. They ended up offering more money than I actually thought they were going to. I haven't accepted their offer yet--I've just begun the negotiation process--but I will most likely be taking it. It's 35 miles south of San Francisco so....(drumroll, please)....I will have to buy a car! (No more Muni stories! No more Alan the foot fetish guy! I will not be masturbated on, either!)

Okay, wait. My head is spinning. I. Got. A. Job.

Ohjesusfuck...I'm like a grown up now. I'll have a 401K. How terrifying.

Now I won't have to be a hooker out of necessity. I can just do it for fun.

I didn't actually think I'd get this job. There are only 14 people in the company and when I read their credentials they're all from Harvard and Stanford and Brown and Johns Hopkins. I don't care who you are...this is a little intimidating.

I got a job. Okay.

July 21, 2008

An old friend

I just heard from a friend on MySpace that I haven't talked to in years. About 15 years to be exact. Christie was two years ahead of me in school and when I became a colorguard, she took me under her wing and came over to my house and helped me learn the routines. More than once she was my alibi when I was sneaking out with Chris. She also drove me to buy contraceptives the first time I ever purchased them, and talked me through a very embarrassing little mishap of which we shall never speak. (I hope to God that she doesn't remember that incident...)

She wrote and said, "I don't even know if you remember me..." to which I dashed off a quick message before falling asleep: "Are you CRAZY!? OF COURSE I remember you!" I am so happy to be in touch because I always wondered how things had turned out for her. Now I need to stop writing ABOUT her and write TO her.

Just for fun, a couple of old colorguard pictures. I can't find any right now where you can see Christie's pretty face, unfortunately. The group shot was taken in August 1992; I am in the center, and Christie is to the right looking away. The other one is just plain ol' me.



To talk to you

I love this so much.

I had a friend named Terry Childers waaaayy back in jr. high school. I didn't know what happened to him after that but he found me on MySpace a couple of years ago and we got back in touch. Now he is a musician and has a six year old daughter named Random.

A couple days ago, Terry posted a bulletin about collaborating on a song with Random with promises to put up the finish product. The song was her idea, and she came up with the title: "There Sure are a lot of Ways to Talk to You." They wrote the words together and made the music. You can now listen to the finished product--it's the first song on his page. And I've transcribed the words below:

I could call you on your cell phone
We could AIM chat, too
I could try to speak French, but I would get confused
What would I use to get through to you?
There sure are a lot of ways to talk to you.

I could try sign language if you'd see my hands
I could send smoke signals far across the land
I could say it in Klingon but you'd get confused
You know there are a lot of ways to talk to you.

We could meet face to face
You could pick an appropriate place
Like the park
Or a crazy Mexican race

I could use a bat signal shining in the sky
You would probably see it if the clouds were up high
I could shout it under water but we might get confused
Oh, what can I use?
Oh, what would I do?
Oh, what can I do?
Oh, what can I do to get through to you?
There are a lot of ways to talk to you.

Such sweetness!

On being held back

On Thursday night I got together with two friends to talk and discuss some things we're going to be writing about together. It's sort of a long story and I don't really want to explain right now. Besides, it sounds a little California new-agey (the kind of stuff I usually roll my eyes at) but I decided to give it a shot. One thing that I will be doing as part of all this over the next several weeks is taking on some various thinking/writing tasks. Some of them will inevitably end up here starting in the very near future.

We were reflecting on the automatic things we tell ourselves that hold us back from being creative, and for me one statement that really does it is, "I will have only one good piece of work in me." The more I think about it, the more insidious it seems. It's not that I think I can't do anything, or couldn't accomplish something if I put my mind to it. It's that I seem to operate under the premise that I don't have much to work with and will use it all up--in a sense--to make one good thing and the rest will be scraps and shards and crumbs that won't be useful or interesting to anyone.

I've felt that way about relationships, meals that I've cooked, writing that I have done and aspire to do, research projects, jobs, dates, and on and on and on. I'm only realizing how pervasive this has been in my thinking just now. It's pretty astonishing. But how does one get over this? By "proving" it incorrect? By willing oneself to believe otherwise (this way seems fruitless)? I don't know. I suppose at least recognizing it is important.

July 18, 2008


A: You seem so stable and so together. I, on the other hand, have this swirling mass of chaos inside my head.

J.T.: [laughs] You act like your whole life is chaos, and it's not. You've got things pretty together. The chaos is inside your head.

A: I know! It's always been like that! I worry that you won't understand that or you won't want to be around it.

J.T.: I wouldn't be here if I didn't want to be around it. Maybe some of my stability will rub off on you and help balance you out.

A: Maybe some of my chaos will rub off on you.

J.T.: I don't think so. I'm not so easily swayed. But I'm not afraid. And I'm not running away.


This is going to sound a little nuts. (But...hey! If you are one of the few who reads this blog regularly it'll be nothing new.) These connections will probably seem tenuous, at best. But they're a couple of things I've noticed that seemed worth mentioning.

I've found that there have been a couple of people to whom my body responded to in weird ways--physical manifestations of emotions that I was feeling.

One of these was P. It took some time, but I found that when talking to him--particularly after specific endearments were said and the little girl in me who was hungry for reassurance wrapped them around her like a shabby but warm and comforting patchwork quilt--a part of my body started to hum.

I know. I know how that sounds. But I'm not even kidding. It began as a tickle in the base of my throat just above my chest and expanded into a full-fledged vibration. It started only in response to his words, and then began to also emerge when I simply thought about him.

At first it was alarming. It felt so loud and blatant to me that I would look around on Muni, wondering if others could hear this strange phenomenon taking place within my body. No one ever seemed to. Eventually with the demise of that communication, the humming stopped and has not been seen since.

The second and more recent example is not as exciting, but still interesting to me. (And likely only me, but whatever.) For years I have had this small hard bump just under my skin on my upper right arm, just below the shoulder. It's been there for at least four years now and started before I ever moved to San Francisco. It appeared suddenly. At first I thought it was a blemish, but it never changed. I messed with it all the time; I wanted it gone. I showed it to Chris and made him touch it with his finger. ("Weird," he said. "Go to a dermatologist.") As you may have guessed by now, I never did anything about it.

On the morning after meeting J.T. last week, I was scratching my upper arm and noticed that this bump was gone. In it's place was a small scab. I couldn't believe that, after all that time, it had vanished as quickly as it had come. I assumed it was destined to be with me the rest of my life.

As of this morning even the scab is gone. All that remains is a small dark mark, a reminder of what used to be there and now is gone. All my worrying and fussing with it amounted to nothing--it left when it was ready. There is no more hard bump; all that is left is smooth, soft skin.

July 16, 2008

Odds and ends

Nannette invited me to go to Mexico in Aug. and/or Oct. My God, I want to go. We'll see.

I adore my friends. I'm so happy to have good news to share with them for a change.

It's too bad I'm not independently wealthy and have to find a job. I could totally get used to a life of leisure. I'm trying to enjoy it while I can...

I was starting to get the impression that every time someone left my house I'd never see them again. Perhaps this is not true after all.

I have come to adore the words: "I'm not afraid. I'm not running away."

I'm going wine tasting in Sonoma on Saturday with a friend who is likely moving away.

I have new reasons to master the art of making rice pudding.

It seems this job I interviewed for is actually interested in me. Perhaps I will find some sort of employment somewhere after all and not have to start the blow-job drive through that J. and I discussed or the Tenderloin work that Y. and I have been planning for years. That's good. I'm horrible in high heels.

The words "I miss you" have never sounded so good.

July 10, 2008

The History of Love

It's been awhile since I've been so in love with a book with every word I read--several months at least. I have plenty to say about job applications, interviews, the debate on whether I could/should get a car and/or scooter, saying goodbye to students I really like, internal and external pressures to come to the east coast, etc. But this is what I want to focus on right now. There's plenty of time for all the rest.

All I want is not to die on a day I went unseen. A few months ago I saw an ad in the paper. It said, NEEDED: NUDE MODEL FOR DRAWING CLASS. $15/HOUR. It seemed too good to be true. To have so much looked at. By so many.

Bruno, my old faithful. I haven't sufficiently described him. Is it enough to say he is indescribable? No. Better to try and fail than not to try at all. The soft down of your white hair lightly playing about your scalp like a half-blown dandelion. Many times, Bruno, I have been tempted to blow on your head and make a wish. Only a last scrap of decorum keeps me from it. Or perhaps I should begin with your height, which is very short. On a good day you barely reach my chest. Or shall I start with the eyeglasses you fished out of a box and claimed as your own, enormous round things that magnify your eyes so that your permanent response appears to be a 4.5 on the Richter? They're women's glasses, Bruno! I never had the heart to tell you.

My heart is weak and unreliable. When I go it will be my heart. I try to burden it as little as possible. If something is going to have an impact, I direct it elsewhere....When I pass a mirror and catch a glimpse of myself, or I'm at the bus stop and some kids come up behind me and say, "Who smells shit?"--small daily humiliations--these I take, generally speaking in my liver. Other damages I take in other places. The pancreas I reserve for being struck by all that's been lost. It's true that there's so much, and the organ is so small....Disappointment in myself: right kidney. Disappointment of others in me: left kidney. Personal failures: kishkes....When the clocks are turned back and the dark falls before I'm ready, this, for reasons I can't explain, I feel in my wrists. And when I wake up and my fingers are stiff, almost certainly I was dreaming of my childhood....(We ran so hard we thought we would spit blood: to me that is the sound of childhood, heavy breathing and shoes scraping the hard earth.)....Yesterday I saw a man kicking a dog and I felt it behind my eyes. I don't know what to call this, a place before tears. The pain of forgeting: spine. The pain of remembering: spine. All the times I have suddenly realized that my parents are dead, even now, it still surprises me, to exist in the world while that which made me has ceased to exist: my knees....to every time I've woken only to make the mistake of believing for a moment that someone was sleeping beside me: a hemorrhoid. Loneliness: there is no organ that can take it all.

--Nicole Krauss

July 8, 2008

Spark of recognition

Every once in awhile one of these really hits me in the gut--like this one did today.

Just about to leave

(Sorry, but you'll have to click on it to see it full size as it's too large to fit on the page in any other size. I feel like this commentary kind of ruins the mood, and I'll stop now.)

July 6, 2008

Out with the old, in with the new...

...something borrowed, something blue...

Wait. That's something else.

I've been working on getting my house in order. Good things are coming my way--I can feel them--and I want to be ready. I got a new rug to replace the one that has seen many spills, drops, and S's ho-ho volcano eruption. I also got some more shelves, because I've got stacks of book everywhere and my other three bookshelves are full.

I'm also making a strawberry-rhubarb pie, but that's not about getting my house in order.

I just got off the phone with my mother. She's been dating this guy for a little while now, and it's sort of appalling to watch how she acts and what she's willing to put up with. He'll be out of town and out of touch for a couple of weeks and she'll never hear from him. Then, when he's in town, he calls her constantly and wants to know where she is and what she's doing. She'll tell him she's going out to dinner with her friend, and then he'll call and/or text three times during dinner to find out when she'll be done and if she'll come over immediately afterward.

I said, "Christ, that's really annoying."

She giggled and said, "No, no. It's so cute. He can't get enough of me and it's like he just wants me for himself. It's pretty cool."

She's been in this pattern with dominating, controlling men before and I can see it coming a mile away. She won't/can't hear it. She'll say, "He's so out of my league! I can't believe he wants to be with ME. He does all this important stuff for work and he tries to tell me about it. I'm such an airhead about everything that I just nod and smile and pretend I know what he's talking about."

I yelled at her about this, but I don't know why I should be surprised. This is the same woman who, when I was 13, told me to stop sitting around the house reading books in the summer and to go outside instead because, "Boys don't like girls who are too smart."


Anyway, I have a big week coming up.

July 5, 2008

Talk Before Sleep

I look in the paper for a good comic strip to bring
Ruth. All of them today would only hurt her feelings. Try
this sometime: read the comics as though time were awfully
short. You will be hard pressed to find anything funny.
You will understand irony. You will put down the paper and
look at the way the sun happens to be lighting the sky, and
you will be thinking one word: please.

- Elizabeth Berg

July 4, 2008


Yesterday was three years since I moved to San Francisco and it's sort of blowing my mind. I'm in a reflective mood. A lot has happened in this three years, both good and bad. I'll try to make one of those lists.

Let's get the ugly stuff out of the way first. The last three years saw...

- the painful end of a very long relationship.
- that long relationship attempt to be a friendship and then break down completely because it was just too damn painful.
- the completion of another degree through which I kicked and screamed the entire way.
- the moving out of a shared apartment.
- the death of my Grandmother.
- the meeting of the person who changed everything for me and the tears the subsequently came afterward when I realized I was the only one who felt that.
- the mourning of an aborted attempt to move to another country.
- the courage to try again to begin a relationship with someone I trusted, only to find that one apparently was doomed as well.

Now for the GOOD stuff. The last three years brought...

- lots of first experiences: my first Gay Pride Parade, Folsom Street Fair, big wheel race, etc.
- a weird and unforgettable trip to Poland.
- teaching at a new university.
- LOTS of new and fantastic music and concerts.
- the real beginning of my writing.
- the completion of the fellowship for which I moved here.
- the move into a new apartment with the most fantastic green walls ever.
- the courage to take a lot of actions I never thought I'd be able to do.
- my 30th birthday. For reasons I won't go into here, I consider that a good thing.
- a birthday on a beautiful island that I have dreamed about having for years.
- many new friends. I can honestly say I never thought I'd have such amazing friends.

I have no amazing ending. This is where I'm at.

Whenever I breathe out...

July 3, 2008

"Like your blood knows the way..."


Step. Step.


Tip-toe. Tip-toe.


Three steps backward.

Lay down.

[Still laying down.]

Feel around gingerly.

Shuffle forward.


Step. Step. Step. Step.

One step backward.


Step. Step. Step. Step. Step.