My new apartment is a Mercedes

July 29, 2011 at 4:12 pm (I love my city, It's all about me, present)

At 5:30 am this morning, the garbage truck (or “trash people” as I called them in my half-asleep state, which M said made him think of people with no class, while I envisioned piles of anthropomorphized rubbish) came screeching up right below our bedroom window. Not even an early wake-up could ruin my first morning in the new apartment, so I flapped a hand in M’s direction and grunted, which he accurately interpreted to mean, “Darling, would you be so kind as to close the window and then crawl back into bed and warm me up?” He, being the most charming and obliging kind of man, took one long 6’2″ stride to the offending opening and slid it shut. *Shlunk*

Silence.

Not slightly dulled version of garbage truck noises. Not “Nice try, bucko, but this is the City and your windows were installed when booze was illegal.” Silence.

It was like being in a luxury car commercial where you hear the engine from the outside, then the satisfying *thunk* of the door falling closed, then…nothing. Blissful, glorious, peaceful quiet. I think I could get used to the suburbs.

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50 Things for 2011

June 2, 2011 at 2:27 pm (future, It's all about me)

Because 100 was too many.

I began this post in February, which explains why I’ve already managed to cross some things off. I’ve also been inspired by Brandy’s post, which was in turn inspired by this. With school and a new relationship looming (except that word brings to mind dark clouds instead of happiness and bouncing and puppies), I’ll be squeezing a lot into a summer. Incidentally, summer? Please come visit the Bay Area. We miss you. May averages that were twelve degrees below normal = so not cool (while simultaneously being unseasonably cool).

It’s no secret that I’m crazy about lists. I like making them, looking at them, referring back to them, and of course, crossing things off of them. This year–this calendar year, which means I’m already behind–I have a list of things I want to make happen. I’m sticking with the rather ambitious number of 100, but each item is appropriately attainable within this year. You won’t see “Fly around the world” or “Get married” on this list because, well, I’m not certifiably insane. I know my scheduling/emotional/financial limits. That being said, I only got to #41 on my own, so erm…Help me complete my list!

1. See a psychic.
2. Have dinner at Cotogna. Reservations have been made for a Thursday in June.
3. Go out dancing until the “Go home now” lights come on.
4. Make confiture au lait.
5. Attend Dolores Park Movie Night.
6. See the parrots on Telegraph Hill.
7. Visit the East Coast (NY, MA, and DC are all acceptable options). A long weekend in New York in May and an upcoming work trip to DC (where I’ll get to see the Southern Belle!) certainly qualify.
8. See that Facebook movie. I managed to do this one with the perfect crowd. I commented on anything Harvard/Cambridge/Boston, M (the new man in my life) commented on all of the legal proceedings, and a friend interpreted/critiqued all of the chatter about coding. Overall? Meh.
9. Post to the blog once a day for a week. I like the look of late June for this list item.
10. Save up a month’s wages (net). I’m reallyreallyreally hoping a tax refund will help here. (The tax refund helped, but the tuition deposit definitely hurt this cause.)
11. Buy two more of these in Lord It Up because they’re 1) amazing and 2) the perfect color for my eyes. I bought similar pencils in a gray/black and a plummy purple instead. Variety is fun!
12. Have dinner at Seven Hills. (Yes, eating will be a theme.) Delicious. Plus a personal response to my Yelp! review. Smart business owner.
13. Take yoga classes (without getting bored). Hm. I’m tempted to cross this one off without doing it because yoga is SO FUCKING BORING for a dancer. Is that cheating? Oh fiii-iiine, be that way. It stays.
14. Initiate a hug (truly, I don’t think I’ve ever done this with someone who didn’t know me, um, intimately). Done! I hugged my boss! I had not been drinking! (and it was a purely social occasion). I know, who am I?
15. Buy one high-end piece of clothing (to be accomplished by buying fewer cheap items). Does the $250 BOSS Black pencil skirt count? Does it still count if I found one at Nordstrom Rack for $70 and returned the pricier version?
15. Pay for someone else’s toll. Truthfully, the hardest part of this is going to be using the cash lane instead of the speedier FasTrak only lane.
16. Go for a hike. Except actually GO. I’ve planned this at least five times, but something always gets in the way. Like rain. Or sleeping in.
17. See a CalShakes production.
18. Send another table a bottle of wine.
19. Play tourist in my own city at Christmastime. Dancing Roommate would surely come along.
20. Do some serious kitchen dancing with the shades open.
21. Find an organization that matters to me and give of my time.
22. Check out my roof deck. (Apparently I have a roof deck.)
23. Go to my cousin’s Fleet Week party (Telegraph Hill + the Blue Angels? Why have I not done this already?)
24. Get back to swimming twice a week.
25. Host a themed movie night with costumes and food. American Graffiti anyone?
26. Make my return to SantaCon.
27. Visit Bridget in Reno (possibly to be combined with #26).
28. Write a bit of fiction. Probably just for me.
29. Plan my next international trip. (Mexico doesn’t count.)
30. Find swings. Swing on the swings.
31. Spend a day in bed (permissible reasons to leave bed: potty breaks, fridge raids, fire, changing the West Wing DVD).
32. Overdress for an event. Planned for June 10th when C and I will attend an East Bay underground dinner in cocktail attire.
33. Learn the “Beat It” choreography and dance it next time I hear the song. Simple moves, really.
34. Visit the Future CEO in LA.
35. Spend an afternoon drinking by a pool (possibly to be combined with #34).
36. Watch the rest of Arrested Development. Seriously, how could I not know about this show?
37. Take a hip hop/tap/Bollywood/Latin dance class. Something I don’t already know.
38. Sing a duet with my mom at her church. Try not to puke from stagefright.
39. Make potstickers at home. Compare them to take-out.
40. Go to the driving range with my dad.
41. Host a bourbon or scotch tasting. M and I are up to 5-6 bottles between us.

What’s on your list for 2011? What should be on mine?

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May 18, 2011 at 4:43 pm (It's all about me)

I came across this Tennessee Williams poem in an old copy of the New Yorker and fell in love even before I determined it fitting for that whole Rapture thing going down on Saturday.

Suppose that
                              everything that greens and grows
should blacken in one moment, flower and branch.
I think that I would find your blinded hand.
Suppose that your cry and mine were lost among numberless cries
                 in a city of fire when the earth is afire,
I must still believe that somehow I would find your blinded hand.
                 Through flames everywhere
                    consuming earth and air
I must believe that somehow, if only one moment were offered,
    I would
                                find your hand.
I know as, of course, you know
                                the immeasurable wilderness that would exist
                  in the moment of fire.
But I would hear your cry and you’d hear mine and each of us
   would find
                  the other’s hand.
                                    We know
                  that it might not be so.
                                    But for this quiet moment, if only for this
                                        moment,
And against all reason,
                  let us believe, and believe in our hearts,
                  that somehow it would be so.
                  I’d hear your cry, you mine –
                                    And each of us would find a blinded hand.

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It’s been kind of a big week

April 1, 2011 at 4:37 pm (future, in my head, It's all about me, On dating and mating)

There are days weeks months when life throws things at you–sharp things, mean things, exciting things, wonderful things–and expects you to grow seven hands to catch it all…or at least shield your soft parts. During those thing-slinging hours, I retreat into busyness. I take on more work, sign up for a class, go to the gym, and watch TV while surfing the net while reading a book while texting a few friends. It’s a frenzy of sorts, my manic avoidance. It’s exhausting and inevitable. Until, in a moment of strength, I let the quiet catch me. Quickly, before it’s gone, I ask “why?” Why is this relationship failing? Why am I unsatisfied at work? Why do I feel inferior/scared/confused? And then from somewhere deep inside, a quiet voice develops an answer. The answer doesn’t have to be new or even brilliant, as long as there is one. If I understand why, I can move on and let go.

Introspective has always been my style, so it comes as no surprise that over the last few months, while applying to grad school, I’ve been thinking even more than usual. There were the info sessions, the pre-requisite classes, the studying, the standardized test taking, the essay writing, the applying, and the interviewing. And then there was the waiting. To sum up the waiting, it sucked. I am not patient. In fact, when they asked for my biggest weakness, I said, “impatience.” Really, I did. But I learned through my waiting, through this whole process really. I learned about myself, mostly, but also a few key life lessons. I learned enough to realize that The Man and I were not to be. So, yes, this is an upbeat post about ending a relationship and getting into graduate school within the span of four days. Like I said, life throws things. She’s petulant that way.

What I Learned

1) I am an emotional non-eater and non-shopper. On the other hand, all I want to do when something grand happens is go out for a lovely meal and buy entire departments at Nordstrom.

2) It takes time to remember that you’re single. No more blatant elevator eyes for the tech dudes on the train with the excuse that if they look back you’re taken.

3) Yup, still have a thing for redheads.

4) It is not possible to tell someone too often that you appreciate him/her. The support and confidence of family and friends (and The Man, still) has been invaluable through this process and will mean even more as I face the prospect of working full-time AND going to school.

5) Lists will save you. So, on occasion, will cheese, music, Josh Lyman, or whatever makes you unreasonably happy. Indulge. And then get your ass back to that desk because those data sufficiency problems aren’t going to solve themselves.

6) “One’s ability to succeed is always proportional to one’s willingness to fail.”

What have you learned lately?

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What’s in a name?

March 13, 2011 at 3:51 pm (It's all about me)

 

Before we get into this, yes, I’m in Hawaii while you read. But that last post was so serious and, frankly, angry, that I wanted to lighten the mood while I’m off in paradise (avoiding tsunamis). I stole borrowed this from Ashalah.

1. How did your parents decide on your name?
Per Jewish tradition, I was named after a deceased relative. My mom tells me it was the woman who taught her to shave her legs. (Seriously.)

2. Do your initials (First, Middle, Last) spell out anything fun/funny?
Nope. But the last two are right next to each other in the alphabet, so when I say them all together in my head, I tend to keep on going until I hit L-M-N-O-P. Mostly because it’s fun to say L-M-N-O-P.

3. Did you take your middle name from childhood or did you take your maiden name as your middle name? (If unmarried, what do you plan to do?)
I haven’t decided how I feel about taking someone else’s name. I mean, I’ll still be me, right? I’ll need to think about it. Whatever happens, there is no way my middle name is going away because I love it way too much. It’s unusual and yet fits so well with my first name (Sara).

4. Are you or will you name your children thematically (ie. same first letter, all of same origin…)
Seriously, children? We haven’t even been on a first date yet and you’re asking me about kids? I guess I should have known you moved this quickly when you asked if I planned to keep my name.

5. Did you decide on baby names as a little girl? Did you stick to them or change your mind?
I chose names for myself, as in what I wished I’d been named. And somehow it was always a very feminine name that could be shortened to a boy name. Like Stephanie/Steve. This must have been the fabulously chic heroine of a John Hughes movie or an ’80s cartoon or something. I don’t think I was sophisticated enough at eight to come up with this stuff on my own.

6. Does your family have any names that have been passed down through generations?
Well, yeah, most of them. (See that thing about Jewish tradition and dead relatives above.) I do think it interesting that my dad’s sister and my dad’s brother both named a child the same thing. My cousins have different middle names and so are usually referred to by both. I think it made them sound more interesting even as children.

7. Do you look at the meaning of the name or just the name itself?
My name happens to mean princess, but it’s biblical. It seems unlikely that the ancients would have come up with a name that means “evil cattle thief” or something, so I think I’d be safe that whatever I liked for more rational or aesthetic reasons would mean something positive.

8. Do you name pets with human names (Sally, Henry) or with pet names (Fluffy, Mr. Bo Bo)?
Both. My  dog was Harold (I really wish I could show you a photo of him because it was the best dog-naming job I’ve ever done. He was a Harold.) Another dog was named after my cousin. She didn’t like that. But others were named silly things instead of real names.

9. Are there any names that you have an affinity or dislike for based on a childhood experience/someone you once knew?
I’m more likely to go in the other direction. I assume that I’ll like Kellys and Davids because I always have.

10. What are some of your favorite names? Why?
I really love the name Elena (long A sound for the E), but can’t use it because of that rule about relatives with the name you like having to be dead. I certainly don’t wish my relative with Elena in her name dead, so any possible future girl babies will have to settle for something else.

 

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As annoyed by inattentive 18-year-olds as I was at 18

February 25, 2011 at 12:05 pm (It's all about me, plays well with others)

The Future CEO and I first met in a PolySci class. I sat in the front of the room, raised my hand often, and hung on the professor’s every word; she chatted away in the back. We kind of hated each other. Obviously, those feelings passed as we became friends outside of class. By junior year, a fantastic American History professor had to separate us because we had somehow morphed into a bizarre compromise between our academic styles: we sat in the FRONT, raised our hands, and still chatted away to each other. To this day, she is the person I would choose first for my team if paper writing were a pairs activity, but we are undeniably different learners.

So I get that not everyone needs to hear every word of a lecture. I get that many students show up because they feel obligated. Or because they are required by parents paying tuition (and the mortgage). I get that distraction is actually good training for cubicle nation. But holy Ghandi are the jabbering teenagers in my community college class making me want to commit violence.

I’ve always been the kind of student teachers love. It probably has a lot to do with my desire to learn and my willingness to do the work. In high school, I endured a lot of taunting for…well, for paying attention. For being pleased when I got an answer right. For unapologetically using big words and wanting to sound smart. I couldn’t wait until college, where I expected the teasing to stop. And actually, it did. The Future CEO may have been a disruptor, but it was only because she had already distilled the readings down to their most important points. She answered just as well as I did when Professor Just got all Socratic on us. At Wellesley, it finally felt OK to be smart. I got used to that. I swam in it and let it wash over me. And then, at 30, I went back to school.

I find myself back in a classroom where I have to walk a fine line. I count the number of times I answer questions (three to five is acceptable, but any more gets me dirty looks). And it’s not that I’m bouncing and waving my hand in the air. I’m as passive as I can be considering my natural instincts. I sit quietly and try to avoid making eye contact with the instructor. I’m also not the only one in the room who gets it, I know I’m not, but it’s just not cool to follow along or have an answer, so the others stay silent.

I’m not in high school any more (praise Aristotle), so I can quickly let it go. My self-worth isn’t wrapped up in any notion of popularity amongst virtual strangers and I step out of that classroom back into my life where I feel comfortable being smart and proud that I love to learn. But for two hours every Tuesday and Thursday, it sucks.

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BS’s thoughts on love, minus the BS

February 11, 2011 at 2:20 pm (It's all about me)

In his extreme youth Stoner had thought of love as an absolute state of being to which, if one were lucky, one might find access: in his maturity he had decided it was the heaven of a false religion, toward which one ought to gaze with an amused disbelief, a gently familiar contempt, and an embarrassed nostalgia. Now in his middle age he began to know that it was neither a state of grace nor an illusion; he saw it as a human act of becoming, a condition that was invented and modified moment by moment and day by day, by the will and the intelligence and the heart.

~Excerpt from Stoner by John Williams

Love is plastic and what we make it. No one is perfect or even perfect for us, they just are. And if we choose to love someone, then we must choose that every day. My mom once told me that it’s never even. At the time, I thought she meant that one person always loves the other more than s/he loves him/her, but that wasn’t it. It turns out that she meant it changes. On any given day you might be the one loving more or the one loving less. You might go months of loving more. Or years. And that’s terrifying. It means being vulnerable and out of control and scared that what is important to you can always be taken away. Fuck Corinthians, love is BRAVE.

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Yet another regional feud?

January 26, 2011 at 5:52 pm (It's all about me, present)

“Did you see that woman?” my friend asked.

“…”

“She was in sneakers.”

“Sneakers? Like…”

“Like Working Girl.”

[Aside: Why can I not find a photo of Tess in her white high tops? I scoured the interweb for, like, five whole minutes people. To me the sneakers-with-hose-and-a-suit is as iconic (albeit horrifying) a fashion moment on film as that ugly gray sweatshirt.]

We laughed at the silly doctor. Or professor. Or banker. In her ugly, but “sensible” shoes. And then we thought for a bit. Don’t we wear flip flops with everything? After all, this is California. Northern California. I own 10 pairs of Reefs and wear them for the walk from the train*. Even with skirts, even in winter. I change into heels when I get to the office, but that’s no different from Ms. Working Girl who does the same when she gets to her office, one presumes.

Is there a difference? My friend argued that there is, but she’s a Californian too. So I put it to you.

Is it more acceptable to wear flip flops for your commute to work than to wear sneakers?

*In Boston I had snow boots that served the same purpose.

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I’m still here

January 25, 2011 at 5:01 pm (future, It's all about me, plays well with others)

This Sheryl Sandberg talk at TEDWomen has been bouncing around in my head since it was posted last month. She has three points about how women who want to stay in the workforce* can reach the C-suite, but only one resonated as anything new (for me). It wasn’t #1) “Sit at the table” or #2) “Make your partner a real partner,” it was #3) “Don’t leave before you leave.”

I have a friend who, while six months pregnant, bought a house, moved to another state, and took on a new (more demanding) job in that new state. (It is very worth noting that her ability to do this speaks to #2 as well.) I’ve been thinking (with respect and reverence) about how much she is taking on and the conclusion I’ve reached is why haven’t I considered the same? (You know, minus the baby and leaving my beloved San Francisco.) It’s not just about having children and planning maternity leave, it’s about not letting a potentiality or long-range plan limit your present preparation for the future.

There has been a leadership shakeup at work; our CEO is leaving. We know approximately when (it’s not soon), but we don’t know who will fill the position. Many departments have retreated into what is comfortable and what has always been. They haven’t proposed new projects and they immediately reject the idea of change during a period of transition. They want to wait for the new CEO to arrive before they move forward. This foolishness has been best summed up by a colleague who simply said, “When the new CEO arrives, what will s/he think if they haven’t done anything innovative in a year?”

I am not one of those departments and I’m firmly against maintaining a holding pattern for months of a leadership transition, but I too am guilty of leaving before I leave. As an individual with ideas of bigger things, I have planned my next move** and gone coasting along in my current role, behaving as if I’ve already left. Sometimes it’s just easier (read: lazier), but sometimes it’s out of a feeling of guilt. How can I leave them with project X only half-way off the ground? Won’t they be upset to know they invested in my idea if I was planning to leave? The reality, I believe, is that any employer should be thrilled that their employee wants more–for the company AND for themselves. If I think my project is an improvement on the status quo, then the mere idea, even if not full realized by me personally, contributes to the organization’s success.

Lesson learned.

 

*An important caveat on which I have an opinion, but I’m not in the mood to grab hold of the third rail of feminism today.
**In previous jobs

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There’s a reason green is the color of envy

January 18, 2011 at 4:33 pm (It's all about me, past)

Here’s what Angelina, Mila, Catherine, and Kyle Richards all know: there is nothing more glamorous than dark hair and emerald green. In fact, Catherine knew it before. And so did Angie. Hell, even Scarlett knew. You think that hat ribbon was an accident? Fiddle-dee-dee.

But as I was reading WendyB’s post about the fashion impact of Grease, I remembered my original brunette in green: Cyd Charisse.

Still from Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Debbie Reynolds is sweet in Singin’ in the Rain as the woman with the golden voice (even though that voice actually belonged to Betty Noyes) and this is undoubtedly one of the best of the MGM musicals of the era, but I watch the whole film just waiting for Charisse’s turn as a flapper seductress. When I saw the film again as an adult, I became obsessed. I ended up with a cashmere sweater in that color (since passed on to my mother because crew necks and boobies do not get along) and a slinky low-cut top. I even tried for a Robert Rodriguez dress but, alas, it looked terrible on my shape. I still search for the color everywhere, convinced that I am at my most attractive with a pale face, dark hair, and brilliant emerald somewhere on my body.

Charisse’s dance scene with Gene Kelly is here, but my favorite dance sequence with the leggy dancer is this one from The Band Wagon:

 

What is your most notable movie-influenced fashion choice?

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