Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life

Do you know that song? "Feelin' Good," by Nina Simone? It's about freedom. My brother introduced me to it awhile back, and I've been saving it ever since. I had this plan that on the day I got a new job, I would play it for myself and think, "This is exactly how I feel."

Yesterday, I played the song good and loud.

If you know me at all in real life, you know that I've been job-hunting for a long, long time. In some ways, I've been fortunate--I'm not unemployed, I'm in my chosen field, and I truly can't imagine that I'll find a better group of people anywhere else. In other ways, it's been a slog, a drain on hope, and an increasingly heavy weight on my psyche. And so to feel suddenly light, to know that I can finally move forward, is a huge and wonderful thing. I get to do something new!

Freedom is mine, indeed.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

It's the most wonderful time of the year

Treasures from the Friends of the San Francisco Library book sale:

Angels on Toast, Dawn Powell
My Home is Far Away, Dawn Powell
Second April, Edna St. Vincent Millay
The Light of Faith, Edgar A. Guest
Last Tales, Isak Dinesen
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, David Sedaris
Local Girls, Alice Hoffman
A Girl Named Zippy, Haven Kimmel
The Archivist, Martha Cooley

The Edna St. Vincent Millay isn't nearly as gorgeous and pristine as last year's copy of The Buck in the Snow and Other Poems, but I figure the two of them can be friends, and it can live out its golden years in peace (I bring home books the way other people bring home stray animals). The Edgar A. Guest can join them--I don't exactly know who he is (oh, now I do), but it was only a dollar and I liked the inscription on the flyleaf: "To Al, Hearty congratulations and all good wishes from the Marquarns. February third, nineteen twenty-seven."

Other than that, I'm pretty sure I didn't buy anything I definitely won't read, which is always my book-sale mantra. I was psyched about the Powells, after striking out on her last year, and I've been meaning to check out A Girl Named Zippy since I fell for The Solace of Leaving Early, and I am nearly always in the mood for the Alice Hoffman's crazy, sensuous magical realism. My relationship with David Sedaris is a complex one, full of potential and disappointment and hope and NPR, but I am feeling generous towards him these days, and am hoping for a reconciliation. And as for The Archivist, that book and I have been shadowing each other for years. I am psyched to read about love among the stacks, especially since I've always hoped to meet my dream guy when we both want to read the library's only copy of The New Yorker.

What's most interesting about the book sale, I think, is what books do and do not make it there in the first place. It's all about what people are giving away: recent book-club selections and classics they'll never read again. Last year was big for Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, which has now been replaced by Songs in Ordinary Time and an absolute heap of Jan Karon. Last year Powell was nowhere to be found; this year she practically leaped off the tables. On the other hand, I was surprised and disappointed to not find a single Jasper Fforde book lying around, nor a copy of the newest Michael Chabon (The Yiddish Policeman's Union), or even a plain old David Copperfield. They must be good--people are hanging onto them.

Now what? I guess I should go read. I've got my work cut out for me.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The bright future

I'm watching the Emmys. Yep, I'm the one. I'm not watching them because I think they're particularly in touch with what's good in TV--they're still nominating Two and a Half Men, but not The Wire, so there you go--or because the internet's down and I can't check the InStyle Style Watch, or whatever. I'm watching the Emmys because they make me want to write stuff.

There's just so much cool material out there right now--shows that are concept-driven and writer-driven more than anything else. Mad Men's Best Drama win gave me chills. Barry Sonnenfeld won for directing a kooky, magical, completely unorthodox pilot for Pushing Daisies. Tina Fey just won her third award of the night, and got to pick it up from Mary Tyler Moore and Betty White. Do you think, someday, I could win an award and accept it from a cardboard cut-out of Tina Fey? Because that would pretty much be enough for me.

I'd say that the Emmys wouldn't matter for me as a writer, but that's only half true. Of course I want to have written something that somebody performed and somebody else filmed, and then a bunch of people decided it was worth some crazy heavy golden statue. I can't believe these people get to roll out of bed and put their work energy into characters and plot and all those things that make my stomach flutter, and I'm so, so jealous. I would not object to any of those things. But writers onstage are always a weird thing, and I suspect my presence wouldn't do much to normalize the situation. They always look extremely happy but kind of freaked out, like groundhogs emerging in February, all, "Hey! It's a party for us!...OH CRAP LOOK AT THAT SHADOW." Also, female writers have it rough. It's like a wedding party: the guys head to Tux Hut an hour before, pick something off the rack, wear it, and bring it back in the morning. Actresses, who don't spend their days shut up in conference rooms with tables full of candy and pizza, have custom, designer gowns shoved at them from all sides. The women writers have to dress themselves and look nice without the benefit of a stylist. I'd like to think I'd come out on the winning side of this proposition--again, maybe my girl Tina will continue to wear awesome dresses make writers the new It girls--but it somehow seems like the odds are slim. I've met myself. Not that, you know, I'd let the gown thing keep me home. I do want people to applaud while I look pleased and confused, and then am escorted away by an anonymously glittery girl; I'm just not sure how well I'd deal.

Also, Lee Pace just lost. Do you think he needs consolation? I may be able to help. Call me, Lee!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

12 of 12: September

Welcome to September twelve of twelve, also known as 108-120 of 144. Twelfth of the month, twelve pictures. For more on the myth and the madness, check out the master, Chad Darnell.

7:05 - Foggy Fridays are not my best wake-up days.

8:03 - Everything a girl needs for one day at work and two days away. (There is an actual Tivo in that box. And cold pizza in that foil. Never take me backpacking.)

8:05 - What is this Indian summer of which you speak?

8:12 - Illegible Grand Lake drive-by. Approximate transliteration: "Screw the man! Free popcorn Monday through Thursday!"

10:45 - Morning break with misshapen pizza and everybody's favorite papal-history page-turner.

1:06 - More pizza, this time round. With arugula, red onions, gorgonzola, toasted walnuts, and balsamic glaze, and why does everybody keep asking whether I'm in California?

2:30 - Whoever invented Friday-afternoon meetings is not in my good graces. Christine, however, is always in my good graces.

6:00 - Crossing the erector-set bridge on the way to my parents'. We're road-tripping to a family reunion mini-break weekend.

6:13 - At Long's, agonizing over toenail polish and pondering the ideal intersection of cheapness, color selection, and chip resistance.

6:17 - Chugging up the hill to my parents' house, where all attempts to progress past third gear will be sorely resented.

6:25 - Trying to be artsy while Alex a) refuses to sit still and b) ignores me completely. All other behavior would be a betrayal of the species.

6:52 - Ragin' Apricot? Hot Apricot? Nuclear Apricot? Something.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cast the first stone

My parents gave me a pizza stone for my birthday. This makes a certain amount of sense: they are pizza-stone people. They like a good crispy crust. My family made pizza from scratch every Sunday night when I was little, and, as my mother pointed out, the pizza-making urge has not exactly tapered off for me. I half-live off Trader Joe's Bag O' Dough, part-skim mozzarella, chopped tomatoes, and garlic.

The instructions for my pizza stone call for a 15-minute preheat at 450, then a moving of the raw, assembled pizza from your handy-dandy cutting board or pizza peel (I guess pizza-stone people are also pizza-peel people?) onto the heated stone. And, you know, I'm pretty sure the whole "transfer raw pizza onto super-hot ceramic surface" part of the process seemed suspect from the beginning, but because I am a law-abiding citizen (ha, see how I snuck that in there?) and because I believe pizza-stone makers may know more about pizza stones that I, I decided to follow their clear and authoritative directions.

And now I have a very important announcement to make, for the good of all who read and bake: RAW PIZZA DOES NOT SLIDE. THERE IS NO SLIPPING, SLIDING, COAXING, STRETCHING, OR JIGGLING UNCOOKED PIZZA FROM PLACE TO PLACE. Perhaps this is an American thing. Italian pizza may float across the kitchen, for all I know. Here in Oakland? Less so, and I don't care how much cornmeal you put down. That stuff is sticky.

Which is how we end up with this:

Note that there is not a piece missing from the amoeba pizza. That's the whole thing. Also, if you could see, there are some toppings that were rolled underneath the crust during the move, so that it's not so much garlic-herb as it is garlic-herb-tomato-mushroom-spinach-garlic again-cheese crust. And say what you will about cornmeal not burning, but the sad, preheated cornmeal on the unused stone is what my grandmother would graciously have called "dark brown." I'm just saying.

So next time, preheat, then assemble on heated stone while avoiding being burned? I will be the master of the pizza stone. Just you wait. In the mean time: delicious, misshapen amoeba pizza. Yum.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Monday, September 08, 2008


Oh, my. It's been kind of a while, hasn't it? Sorry about that--blog-time got away from me, I guess. Since we spoke last, I have...

...turned 28, which sounded old at some point, but which I'd kind of embraced earlier this year anyway. It was a lovely birthday, full of friends and barbecue and presents and general merriment; thanks for asking.

...nursed my toes. For reasons I can't discuss, I had to wear shoes today (!), which was not great. However, they are no longer purple, and not so much swollen as...bumpy, I guess? (If superfluous photos of my bruised and broken toes are your bag, I posted a few here.)

...gotten the hang of the Magic Loop, like so:

How do you like that sleeve action?

...eaten practically nothing of the organic or even plant-based variety, which is becoming something of an untenable situation. It's not good. Tonight: spinach salad with heirloom tomatoes, a hardboiled egg, and cilantro dressing, because I cannot keep this up.

...tried to keep up my momentum for series 3 of Doctor Who, reminding myself of my enthusiasm for the Doctor himself, even if Martha Jones is no Rose Tyler.

...not loved the season premiere of Bones. Be better, please, show.

...made peanut butter brownies. Let me reiterate: PEANUT BUTTER BROWNIES!

...finished Rebecca and started The Name of the Rose.

...waited and waited and waited for choir--my favorite thing--to resume. Tonight! I'm so ready, except, possibly, for my voice.

I'll try to be better. Promise.