Monday, December 15, 2008

Notable Differences Between Prague and Italy (specifically Rome)

We have arrived safely in Prague. We found ourselves in a very, very cold and rather sparse apartment, but it warmed up overnight (apparently the Prague city government decides when the heat works) and for something like $50/night, we are in luxurious quarters for the price. So far, we have not heeded our normal travel practices, which is to avoid restaurants where people greet you outside and to go to local coffee shops. I am writing this e-mail from a Starbucks (it has free WiFi). Last night we also ate at a deserted tourist restaurant. Nevertheless, the food was tasty (mmmm goulash and potato soup) and hearty and after our adventures leaving Rome at Fiumicino and our lack of food during travel, we were ravenous. More on the Fiumicino saga later at The Island of Misfit Toys.

Here are the notable differences we've observed so far:
1. No dog poop.
2. Colder. Much colder.
3. Less rainy.
4. Absence of lingerie stores.
5. More English speakers, or at least more English voluntarily spoken.
6. Crazier currency.
7. More monks, and dudes with guitars. Those are mutually exclusive categories, so far.
8. More messenger bags, possibly.
9. More knitting and crocheting in public. Woo hoo!!
10. ZERO scooters.
11. Praguers seem like "morning people."
12. And, last but not least, a general absence of popery.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Trattoria Da Maria

Having been thwarted twice in our attempts to eat at this establishment, Mr. Dirteens and I finally succeeded this evening. Italian restaurants don't always have posted hours and they are often open odd hours, when they are, in fact, open. These temperamental and unpredictable hours cause me to build up a lot of anticipation and hope for delicious food. Trattoria Da Maria did not disappoint.

When we walked in, the place was kind of grimy. It looks like a school cafeteria, with glossy mint colored walls and the tables are covered with standard plastic red-and-white checked tablecloths. At 7:30 PM - super early for the Ligurian dining set - the place was already quite crowded. We sat on the second floor, which was serviced by two tweeny (and teeny) waitresses. The kitchen is on the first floor, so the waitresses yell orders down the dumbwaiter.

Our menus arrived very promptly. I assume they are written by "Maria," and the handwriting is quite unintelligible. Before we had a chance to look through the whole menu (Primi, Secondi, Contorni(?), and Dolci), our waitress asked if we were "pronti?" Not being ready, and as we were fumbling a bit for the Italian necessary to continue conversing in her native language, she switched to English and we pulled out an order for two minestrone alla Genovese. Dang. It was phenomenal. The cannellini beans lent a creamy texture to the soup, the parmesan was peppery, it was... pestolicious.

For round two, we took our waitresses recommendations and Mr. Dirteens partook of the "Stoccafisso." This dish consists of Ligurians taking some dried out cod, soaking it, and adding potatoes and olives. While the fish remains quite chewy, it is more delicious than it sounds. Quite tasty actually. I had the "Polpettone" It has the texture of a fish cake, and is formed like a large patty, encrusted with cornmeal or flour. Some websites describe it as a meatloaf, and that is quite accurate. However, the polpettone is lighter than most meatloaves and it is vegetarian, at least at Da Maria. Apparently, Ligurians make their version of polpettone most often on the weekends. Don't ask me why, this website just says so. In any event, the combination of vegetable, potato, cheese, and egg, was scrumptious.

Having enjoyed our waitress's recommendations, we also permitted her to choose our desserts. We were a little crestfallen when she brought out identical desserts, since it would have been nice to sample two different creations, but at practically the first bite, we were too drunk to care. From what we could tell, the desserts were a very simplistic tiramisu, absolutely drenched in marsala. I'm almost feel a little tipsy just reflecting on that first boozy bite.

In the end, this fantastic meal (we skipped wine) only set us back 21 euro!! I almost regret posting that price since I fear that the restaurant will learn how good it is and hike up the prices. Chances of that happening are mercifully slim however, since we learned during our visit, that Mark Bittman has already listed this place as one of his "favorite restaurants in the world." Chow.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Two Things to Know about Genoa

1. Allegedly, jeans originated in Genoa (bleu de Genes en francais, minus accent marks that I cannot locate on this computer). While this legend may or may not be true, my spouse and I stopped by a very intriguing exhibit about jeans, in one form at least, at the Museum of the Archdiocese of Genoa. Most of what was contained in the Archdiocese's museum was similar to that which we observed in the Museum of the Treasures of the Cathedral of San Lorenzo (also visited yesterday). Generally, the museums contained (dubious) relics, including one that portended to contain hair from the Virgin Mary and another that supposedly contained the ashes of St. John the Baptist! All of these relics were flashy and gilded. As my spouse put it - virtually all of the objects were contenders for "King of Bling" - a little known award bestowed upon gaudy church relics dating from the Renaissance by one medieval scholar.

In any event, the exhibit we saw distinct from the other artifacts in the galleries. The exhibit was called "The Blue of Genoa" and consisted of about a dozen large paintings on denim fabric. The scenes detailed the passion of Christ and were extraordinarily detailed, considering that the artist only painted with white tempera on the cloth. The one exception to the white/blue color scheme was on a painting of "La Flagellazione" (Italian for "The Flagellazione") where the portions of Christ's body that were taking the worst beating had what appeared to be real dried blood on them. This was rather more realistic than how most icons I've seen in the past few days depicted blood, so I found it somewhat jarring. The scale of these paintings was rather huge. From the way the fabric was cut, it looked like the tapestry-like results would have been displayed from various portions of a cathedral, perhaps during holy week. All in all, this was a great exhibition - if you get the chance to go, don't forget to look at the ceiling...

2. Focaccia. Wow. They say Genoese focaccia is the bomb, and it is. On the way back from the archive today we stopped for a bite and it was crispy but tender inside, oily and salty, and some bites seemed to melt away in my mouth. Given that the weather has still been quite chilly, I have not yet bitten the bullet and tried gelato here. That might have to wait for the warmer climate in Rome. I wonder if they'll have focaccia flavored gelato there?

Monday, December 01, 2008

A Room (Without) A View

Shortly after returning to Genoa from Florence, I saw the article in the NYT about touring the city as though it were 100 years ago from the perspective of E.M. Forster. Now, I can't say I've read Forster's novel, but the city is indeed crowded with tourists. Despite the crowds, I enjoyed our short stay and am glad we made the journey. Here's what we did:

Friday: We attempted to leave Genoa at 13:00, but due to the incredibly crappy weather, and corresponding train delays, we left at closer to 14:00. To give you an idea of how bad the weather was, Jeff and I had hoped to take a picture of the discarded umbrellas absolutely littering the streets, but it was too cold and too wet for us to even stop to do so. My hands were chilled to the bone after a ten minute walk to the station. Fortunately, our little travel umbrellas are stronger than what the umbrella salesmen sell all over Genoa, so we were able to withstand the winds and brave the rain.

On the train, we transferred at Pisa and saw some lovely (if rainy) Ligurian coast land and Tuscan countryside. We got to Florence in time to check in to our hotel right around 17:00 - only about 30 minutes later than expected. We got a surprisingly nice room for the money we spent (only 65 euro) at Hotel Cestelli. Our room was massive - about 4 times the size of the Genovese room in which we currently live. The bed was also about 4 times as large as the Genovese bed. Aside from the spaciousness, the room was also nicely decorated and the innkeepers - who are Japanese and Italian but met in San Diego - were very, very nice. The room did not, however, come with a view. Our window looked out directly across an alleyway into an industrial-sized kitchen of some local restaurant.

After resting for a bit, we went for a walk around Ponte Vecchio and to Santa Croce where we met up with our amigo CT (name redacted out of courtesy for the fact that said friend dislikes having an Internet presence) and his girlfriend, visiting from Stanford. Thanks to a surly waiter, we had a nice glass of wine from San Gimignano (where CT and his novia had spent Thanksgiving), and then we went to Osteria de'Benci for some... peculiar, but good food for dinner. Once again, the wine was excellent and the cheese plate was incredibly tasty. I have to remember to pair cheese with honey more often when I get home. The primi we ordered (apart from Jeff's pretty traditional round penne-esque pasta with meat sauce) were the strange part of the meal. CT's girlfriend got strawberry risotto - an unexpected pairing, but savory and yummy. CT and I both ordered one of the restaurant's specialties - homemade spaghetti cooked in red wine. The first bite was pretty captivating, but then I think the taste became a little overwhelming. Jeff and I split our secondi - the MASSIVE carbonata di chianina . The waiter brought out a few slabs of steak for us to choose from and we had to send them back until we got one that was just 1 kg. We weren't able to finish the steak, and while I can say with a good degree of certainty that this was an authentically Tuscan experience, I cannot say that I ever want to eat that much of rather charred, yet undercooked meat again. The meal pretty much destroyed us and we were so exhausted that we returned to the hotel immediately afterward.

- After grabbing a brioche and cafe for breakfast, we started waiting in line for the Uffizi galleries - along with almost every other tourist in Florence. Observing no movement in the line, we called for a reservation, and left for the Duomo. It was amazing. We got tickets to go all the way up to the cupola and the experience was breathtaking - both because of the long climb up several hundred stairs, and because of the frescos, and the views. It may be crowded, but if you find yourself in Florence, go to the Duomo.* Following the Duomo, we went to La Canova di Gustavino for lunch. It was one of the best meals ever. Once I can finally post pictures, I'll explain then.

We walked around for a while longer after lunch, stopped in some bookstores, looked at some churches, and then arrived at the Uffizi. As Mr. FGFC astutely observed, only in Italy, does one pay more for reservations, and then wait in line at the reserved entrance when the other line is moving... [Also, only in Italy are people confused by ATMs to quite the degree of Italians when confronted by a Bancomat. Seriously, these folks are SLOW... and the machine's first language is Italian. What gives?] The Uffizi had some famous art - most notably, the Birth of Venus - but overall the galleries are poorly organized and overcrowded. When we were about ready to call it quits for our visit, we stopped off in a special exhibit of 13th and 14th century Florentine art. This exhibit, in contrast to the rest of the space, was properly curated, cohesive, and fascinating. I loved many of the paintings salvaged from churches - particularly those detailing the lives of the saints - and the relic of San Someone... It contained the saints entire radius AND ulna.

Following a rest back at the hotel, we found an Internet cafe. The proprietor had a dog and was even more surly than the waiter at the wine bar. I'll let Mr. FGFC tell that story. The Internet trip was successful and after walking around some more, looking at more old stuff, we met CT for dinner again at a pizzeria popular with the locals. The pizza was quite good as was the cheap house wine and the desserts - I had panna cotta with frutti di bosce. We lingered and chatted over dinner and then returned again to the hotel for a second blissful night of sleep in the humongous bed.

Sunday: On Sunday, it was raining again. Tant pis for the marathoners - it was the Firenze marathon, in addition to being our last day in Florence. We had only a little time before our train was scheduled to leave at 11:30, so we dropped off our bagagli at the train station and grabbed breakfast and looked at more art. At the left luggage station, I saw my first visibly crazy Italian person. Since then, I've seen the dude who wears CDs around his neck several times in Genoa, but this was my first crazy man in Firenze. He was wearing (p)leather pants, lots of jewelry, and seemed to camp out in the left luggage station all day to chat with the gentlemen who worked there.

For our last day, we decided to go the Galleria dell'Accademia, home of the David. Security at the Galleria was considerably more lax than at the Uffizi. No questions about my knitting needles here. Compared to the Uffizi, the Galleria wins, hands down. The collection is more manageable. David is really huge. His hands and feet are especially imposing, but what they say about big feet is not borne out with David. I read somewhere, that apparently, true to size wangs were not considered artistically appropriate or polite back in the day. Once again, the one exhibit of Florentine art at the Galleria was our favorite part of this museum. The vibrant colors of some of the religious triptychs were astounding as were the depictions of the passion and the emotions of the saints.

We pretty much headed straight back to the train station after the Galleria so there is little else to report. Since this has been my longest blog post ever and my dear spouse needs the computer, I'll sign off here.

* If you have a serious fear of heights or are prone to intense bouts of claustrophobia, skip it only then.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


We are in Florence, where keyboards have oddly placed shift keys.

So far we have seen the Duomo, the Uffizi Galleries, and had a truly phenomenal meal. JeffĂ s best in Italy so far (mine too).

Now we are off to meet Corey for some pizza, more updates later.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

First Dinner in Genoa

The internet - named "alice" - or as Jeff says, "ah-lee-chay," does not like to work in his apartment. He and I are thus unable to post pictures of my first dinner in Italy and of his Fibonacci scarf. Fibonacci, incidentally, was Italian and may have been from Pisa. What an appropriate scarf pattern.

Despite the inability to post pictures, I will, as promised, write a bit about our meal. We went to a place called "I Tre Merli," which means "three blackbirds." [Jeff's dictionary said "zoo. blackbird" - but apparently "zoo" is just an abbreviation for zoological.]

Our meal started with a nice aperitif of a crisp, sparkling, white wine. Jeff and I both thought it was pretty tasty. We ordered a cheese plate to start. Having been burned by the tiny cheese plate selections in some SF restaurants, I was expecting a small portion, but this was a MASSIVE (Jeff says "substantial") cheese platter. One was delicious and truffle-y and spotted and somewhat grey, one was creamy and blue, one was somewhat harder and might have had mushrooms in it, one was somewhat soft and tangy and white, and one was a little creamy and also delicious. All of them were scrumptious actually and they were served with yummy bread, mustard, honey, and walnuts.

For the primi - I had some hazelnut lasagna noodles with pesto and potatoes and green beans. Very good, very filling. I thought the pesto was excellent, but mostly unintelligible as authentically "Genoese." Jeff had ravioli with "cheesy and maybe some fishy stuff" along with mussels on top with tomatoes. The mussels were bombtastic. Jeff convinced me to order a secondi - which was FAR too much food. He had a dried cod stew. Jeff ordered it because it's a Genoese specialty, but found it "serviceable," although the olives were tasty. My "cioppin" seafood soup was very tasty - especially the mussels and the giant shrimp. Overall, if the various dishes in our meal had been in a gladiator fight, the cheese plate and my pesto pasta would have been the victors.

We were too stuffed for dessert, but I am baking a pumpkin pie tonight. Hopefully it will turn out, the oven does not have a working temperature gauge... Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

In Genoa, In Small, Girly Room

I have arrived safely in Genoa. Jeff met me in the oldest, most 1970s style airport I've ever seen. Although I noticed two men in military dress just standing around, I otherwise noted no security and just walked off the plane, grabbed my luggage, and lo and behold, I was in Italy.

On the flight from Munich to Genoa, Lufthansa had passed us off to some low budget regional Italian airline called Air Massimo or Dolmathes (?) or something. The flight attendants were twenty-something Italians with bleach blond hair, lots of makeup, and polyester teal skirt suits. The suits were something else. Although the flight attendant spoke English to the portly British gentleman seated in front of me, she seemed to insist on speaking Italian to me, despite the fact that I answered in English or with "gratze" - assuming that meant thank you. I guess I look Italian, despite not having bleach blond hair or sporting a polyester suit.

As for other fashion observations, most men on my flight wore suits. I don't know whether this is something I can generalize about all Italian men, or if I was just flying with primarily business dudes. Also, there seems to be a real trend among these men to wear scarves with vertical stripes - knitted lengthwise - instead of horizontal stripes. I hope that Mr. Misfit is not feeling too gauche with his awesome , horizontally striped, fibonacci scarf around here.

Regarding the title of this post, Mr. Misfit shares his apartment with four young Italian college students. I met the youngest two, who speak no English, this afternoon. They are quite adorable and named Carola and Carolina. So far I cannot tell them apart, but they are very sweet. While I was washing lunch dishes we were somehow able to communicate the fact that Carol(in)a was going to take a shower so the bathroom would be occupied. I suppose the shower may get crowded with six people in the apartment so I'll have to ask Jeff how to communicate the same thing later on. Before Senor Jeff moved in, another girl, who, judging from the decor, had a penchant for dance movies (Grease, Dirty Dancing and "Strictly Come Dancercize*") and cats, lived here. Now we are living here, and it is pretty hilarious so far.

Now that I've slept twelve hours, had some lunch with Jeff and Ben, and Jeff is at the archives for the release of some website compiling 13th century stuff, after I finish blogging I will read and knit until Jeff comes home. Then I think I'll see some of Genoa, eat dinner, and sleep again. More adventures to come when I acclimate to the time difference. Should I get bored while Jeff is archiving it up, I may just report on this Dancersize video...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Reflections on Munich

So, if I were Sarah Palin, I would talk about my vast experience in Germany based on the 4 hour layover I am spending here in Munich. Instead of claiming that level of foreign policy experience, I will share the following observations about Deutschland. From them I will likely make sweeping generalizations about Germans and Germany:

1. The airport is oddly quiet. Despite having marble/hardwood floors, everyone is hushed and civil. Germans are quiet (but seemingly talk fast). One notable exception is the young couple sitting behind me who recently broke into song. It was peppy, pop-music, no Uber Alles, in case you were curious.
2. The Internet speaks German. Germans speak German. QED.
3. Various cigarette makers sponsor "Smoking Zones" - which are like stationary revolving doors in which people stand around and puff away. So far, Camel seems to be the most popular sponsor of these cubicles.
4. Instead of the paper public toilet seat covers so prevalent in California (and oddly not found in the Midwest), German toilets have sanitizer that you're supposed to spray on toilet paper and use to wipe down the seat. I find this strangely intrusive - perhaps "too" clean. Also, the toilet paper comes in sheets, not in rolls, and each toilet has a brush sitting to the right side of the bowl. This overacheiving cleanliness somehow also strikes me as foul. I shudder to think at all the germs crawling on those brushes. Germany is, perhaps, not as clean as you would think.
5. There is not a drinking fountain to be found in this place. Has Germany no public water fountains?? I should write to Angela Merkel about this outrage.
6. Janitors ride Segways!!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Ciao Spaghetti!

All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go, I'm just waiting around for (not so) Super Shuttle to come pick me up and take me to SFO. According to Blogger, this is my 101st post on this piece of interweb terrain and it will be my last in the US of A for a month.

To help me remember my journeys, I hope to post something on here most days, internet access permitting. To fulfill requests, expect photos of food and reviews of the pasta and gelato I consume. Depending on how things pan out, I may start a contest among the readership of "For God and Cheese" to see who can come closest to guessing the number of pounds that I gain as a result of being in Italy. It remains to be seen whether I'll actually want to divulge that information.

I'm sure I'll also have adventures to report from old churches, hikes, cafes, Pompeii, a famous ossuary, old churches, museums, and more old churches. To fulfill another request, I'll also write a bit about my attempt to learn Spanish, while in Italy and the Czech Republic. This should be interesante and might be ill-advised. In addition to my language studies and copious eating I also plan to knit like the wind for all the babies that my friends and family will soon be bringing into the world. Perhaps by the time I return I will also absorb a bit of Italian and will be able to say more than the title of this post.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

There Should Really be a Word for That...

Well, it's been a packed couple of weeks since I last posted. The bruises from my experience as a rice bowl have finally faded and I've purchased rain boots to never again repeat the disgusting soaked sneakers feeling of the 2008 Chinese NY Parade. Since I last wrote, my parents also paid me a visit during which we had several fun and exciting adventures, my dear friend from law school came to town and we also had a blast, I went on one of the best hikes of my life, I learned a little something about computer forensic investigations, and I purchased a suh-weet cupcake carrier. I will never again lug around a heavy baking dish on MUNI which permits the cupcakes I baked to slide around, thus smooshing their frosting. Now, my cupcakes will be secure in a high-tech cupcake carrier with a handle. Fierce.

I might write about some or all of those things in more detail at a later date, but for now I want to put together the first of what might be a series of "regularly" or "sporadically" occurring entries. This feature, known around "For God and For Cheese" as, "There should really be a word for that..." will expound on a concept or phenomenon which no single word currently describes. Readers, feel free to offer suggestions for succinct words to describe these phenomena if you wish.

The debut entry in this category actually comes from two of my pals who explained this to me recently. Picture this: upon returning to bed at night, after getting up from sleeping to get a drink of water or take a whizz, when you return to bed you flip the pillow upon which you have been sleeping over. The reverse side of the pillow is cool and inviting.*

There should really be a word for that, the cool side of the pillow. "Chillow?"

* Note: the "chillow," if you will, is not always inviting. When it's cold out, for example, in the dead of winter in a crappy student apartment in Hyde Park, the "chillow" is detested and avoided at all costs.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I Choo Choo Choose You

These little kids *almost* endeared me to the T-Line.

I also got FREE PANTS!

Sporty Rice

My hips are currently covered in bruises. My running shoes may never quite recover from being as drenched as they were last night. But downsides aside, I had a blast as a Rice Bowl in the Chinese New Year Parade yesterday. I even made off with a sweet sweatshirt with a big rat on it, courtesy of Southwest Airlines. Thanks to C L-W for coordinating and Happy New Year!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Lenten Meditation

Figures that the Lenten Meditation I wrote for my church features my tendency to complain about MUNI. It is one of my favorite pastimes. The prompt for this reflection was: "Who do you say that I am?--the simple complexity of Christ:"

I'm not much of a pray-er. I tend to be more of a complainer. If you know me, you might know that I'm especially adept at complaining about MUNI. When the T-Line first started running last April, the folks who answer the phones at 3-1-1 knew me by name. In any event, it is perhaps part of my nature that I don't spend my mornings doing devotions and I pray at night only rarely. After all, I spend the rest of my day griping, which crowds out time to praise God, thank God for anything, much less pray for anything.

Last Friday, for the first time in a long while I found myself in a state of almost constant prayer. I was observing a hearing for a client I care very much about and unjust and aggravating things were happening right under my nose. I couldn't say anything to complain or object and I felt completely impotent.

What could I do? Finally, I realized I could pray. I just kept repeating phrases from hymns and trying to pray for strength for my client and compassion and wisdom from the commissioners in charge. Although things at this hearing did not turn out the way I think they should have, I left with a greater sense of peace than I would have thought possible.

Reflecting on this experience today, a co-worker shared the following verse with me:

If you see the poor oppressed in a district, and justice and rights denied, do not be surprised at such things; for one official is eyed by a higher one, and over them both are others higher still. - Ecclesiastes 5:8

My fighting spirit causes me to see injustice in a lot of places and I get pretty worked up about it a lot of the time. Typically, my anger gets me nowhere. (Especially with MUNI.) Recognizing the simple truth in this verse, that everyone answers to someone higher than themselves - ultimately God - provided me with some much needed perspective. Even when advocacy fails and no one seems to be listening for the truth, greater things are at play.

So, "Who do you say I am?" An advocate who listens and understands.

I Endorse Obama

I contemplated using one of the catchy Obamania phrases like "Barack the Vote" or "Obama for Your Mama" as the title of this post, but frankly, I wanted to get to the point. I endorse Obama, and here's why.

First, because I'm rarely good at getting to the point, here's a bit of back story. On Super Tuesday, my friend Swerds was eating lunch outside his office and was approached by local newscasters for comments about who he voted for in the primary. Being the eloquent dude that he is, Swerds made an insightful comment about the war and why he chose Obama over Clinton. I realized after talking with Swerds that I had no such pithy remarks prepared and would have babbled incoherently if a microphone were thrust in my face. So without getting into policy points, here's why I voted for Obama this month, and hope to vote for Obama in November:

1. Obama is more than an effective orator. He has ignited a nation of politically apathetic people, especially young people. Yes, actions speak louder than words, but I am truly impressed by Obama's background. I want a President who was a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago; I want a President who taught constitutional law; I want a President who inspires me.
2. More importantly, I think that Obama has the potential to undo years of divisiveness and rancor in this country. In my opinion, Clinton's got an incredible uphill battle in that respect and I still have massive doubts about what shenanigans her husband pulled in terms of welfare "reform" when he was in the White House pandering to the Republicans. I realize that other people applaud former Pres. Clinton for PRWORA and might call him an effective coalition builder, but I choose to put my hope in Obama this time around.
3. I've only voted in two presidential elections. Both were embarrassing failures on so many levels. Both times, I voted against something (someone, some principles) instead of for something and someone I believed in. Either way things turn out, in November, I am going to be excited to vote for the Democratic nominee. Provided it's Obama though, I am going to be elated.

Monday, February 18, 2008


In an effort to put more content on this blog, I've decided to start cross posting. Hence, you'll be able to find this review on my Goodreads page too.

I just finished tearing through "Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen," by Julie Powell. It was a raucous read and very enjoyable for someone who loves experimenting in the kitchen and just recently started to rebound from her own prolonged self-pity party.

I realized, after reading it, that I've been on a bit of a "schtick" kick with my non-fiction reads lately. It started with "A Year of Living Biblically" and continued onto "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle." (I suppose "Eat, Pray, Love" was in somewhat the same vein as well.) Julie/Julia is also a gimmick, the deal is this woman who was on the eve of her 30th birthday, working in a depressing job, decided to take on a project to cook her way through the entire oeuvre of Volume I of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" or as she calls it "MtAoFC." In so doing, she transformed her life and got this book deal after her blog about the project got super popular. (Not to worry any dear readers, I have no such aspirations!)

What I did get from this book though was a good report on kitchen adventures, a candid look at self-absorption and hilarity, and the story of how great friendships withstand low times and grow only stronger. It was great... it also caused me to make crepes at around 10:30 PM last night. Then I had crepes for dessert while watching "35 Up" last night, crepes for breakfast this morning (sort of blintz style with IKEA lingonberry jam and yogurt), and because my craving was (apparently) insatiable, two crepes for dinner tonight at Ti Couz - savory and sweet. I better cut back on the crepe intake tomorrow or you'll be able to roll me down the street just like I plan to roll up another crepe for breakfast manana.

In other news... I repotted some plants today. I ruined my favorite black cardigan by vigorously cleaning my bathroom. The super-heavy duty scary shower cleaner necessitated opening the window and turning on the fan so as to avoid killing too many brain cells or passing out due to the fumes. It was freezing cold in the bathroom as a result so I kept the cardi on and bleached the right sleeve completely. The elbow is now an unattractive neon coral color. It looks sort of like hypercolor gone terribly wrong.

This morning I threw a minor fit at Radio Shack when the aggravating sales associate refused to process the headset I bought to use while Skyping for a return, because he couldn't find the bar code. I bought it two days ago, had the receipt, and was so annoyed! Turns out the lesson to be learned from this is that my tantrums are best avoided since I realized I can send the headphones to Mr. Dirteens since they'll work with his laptop. Woohoo! No money lost here.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


I live in a neighborhood that's still off the beaten path in SF. I'll admit I often get a smug sense of cool satisfaction when people are surprised to learn that there is, in fact, a neighborhood called the Dogpatch and I live in it. Here, there are three-flats with units like the one J and I share, barely detached single family homes some of which are lovely and others that are decaying, industrial and artistic businesses, warehouses, housing projects up the hill, and an increasing number of pricey lofts. We've got restaurants too (some of which are better than others, see my yelp reviews), an excellent pilates studio, and a boxing gym. The Dogpatch is gentrifying rapidly.

Still, the 'hood looks rather gritty in places. Walking to church, however, this morning, past a dingy motorcycle repair shop, a strange printing press, and an abandoned fire station, the street was lined with trees filled with pale pink blossoms. A hummingbird, a real live hummingbird was flitting about some of the branches.

This was an unexpected gift to me: a delicate, shimmering, whimsical creature going about its business pollinating or whatever it does on Tennessee Street. Finding such an anomale gave me great joy and a sense of wonder. I'm so grateful for having seen it.

I only hope that these new lofts won't displace the Dogpatch's resident hummingbird.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

I'm Back

By way of update, a lot has happened since April. Chiefly, I'm a Mrs. My last name changed. I cut off my hair. I'm learning how to drive and knit. I took my first deposition. I'm paying off my debt. I am back to attending church regularly and even serving as a quasi-elder, which is somewhat entertaining.

One of the most recent changes is that my marital property is off in Italia doing his dissertation research and as a bachelorette again for the next six weeks I thought I'd try to revive this blog. Since the Mr. is also back to travel blogging, this should also provide a good way for us to stay in better, and public, virtual contact.

As a note to self and, I suppose, to anyone who still reads this - I've also got plans to update my sidebar links at some future date so you all can see what I've been reading, listening to, and so that I can link to some of my pals' blogs.