Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Vote No on Prop 8

IMP. Integrated math is great. Students have to explain process. The simple matter of a right answer won't get you far.

The gays are everywhere.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Lunch time

This is from my most recent lunch supervision duty patrol.

There's this group of mentally retarded kids that come out for part of our lunch from the school we share our building with. Some of them, you just look at their faces and you know they are different. Whether it's the heavy eyelids and huge smile of the students with Down's or the unusually clenched hands of other kids, there is usually some kind of indicator that signals, This kid is different from you.

So if you don't have one of the physical markers, and if you're not holding hands with one of the aides, you look like any other kid from the other school who shouldn't be out during our lunch time. The kid I'm thinking about, he strays from the pack. He'll go and try to talk with different cliques of our students who always look a little confused when he leaves them. Once, though, when I first met him, he decided to whistle and say something nasty about how good I looked. I can't remember the firey, furious, speech I gave him. "Who do you think you are" was somewhere in there.

Then some kid told me "He's with those other retarded kids."

Oh (momentary remorse). So? (anger fully intact)

He's done it once more since his initial compliment.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy Halloweenie

No one here was dressed as a pumpkin, sadly.

I hope nothing terrible happened to you.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Fashioning Change

Fashioning Change was a fashion show fundraiser held last night for the Barack Obama campaign. I've never given money to a political campaign, and I likely wouldn't have given any money to this political campaign if a fashion show hadn't lured me in.

East bay fashion and jewelry designers filled a medium sized space just south of Market and they brought all of their followers with them. This was not a city crowd. As I observed, there was a certain too cool for school vibe absent from the event that reinforced my love of the east bay. Could I turn down a warehouse space in the Dogpatch or Potrero Hill? Not a chance. But I'd move while quietly telling myself it's only temporary and I'll be back in the open spaces and warmer temperatures of Oakland in the future, when I've had my fun.

And don't get me wrong. I love the city too, and I know not everyone there carries that cooler than thou bearing. And I suppose I've outed myself as being someone who goes to places where I experience the throngs in their chunky glasses, grandpa hat and vintage shirt uniform. They go places where there's good food and often fresh fashion and new art to take in. Too bad they can't find their own style.

Viva la lake.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Holy Roller

Eff the bumper sticker. We're going large.

When I saw this truck, I thought the driver was one of those people who go to those storefront churches in the mission. They go on Sunday mornings, go home for lunch and then come back to keep it going until the evening.

Then there's after school church a few days a week. You go from five until the holiest roller starts to buckle - and that's usually between 9 and 10 o'clock at night. Jesus. Jesus Cristo.

Evangelicals. I have a few in classes. They're something else. They're judged, and they act like it.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Fresh in SF

I wanted you to see her square gold bamboo earrings, but she wouldn't move her hands.

They call that hair bump so many girls wear now a "hump". I remember first noticing the phenomenon when a lot of celebrities were doing it, most notably Gwen Stefani. This girl took the hump and made it her own. While all teenagers are all styley in their Old Navy, H & M kind of way, this girl is hecka styley. I think it takes a real sense of fashion and some guts to walk out of the house like that when you're in 9th grade, both of which I suffered a deficit of in my high school career. I didn't learn to say "Fuck it" until I was 30.

So you may think her hair is crazy, crazy, crazy. But you know you dig that hump.

Monday, September 22, 2008

From the Vault - Ski Week End

And the credits were rolling. We were on our way home to enjoy the next half of our winter's end break, not skiing, not snowboarding, not sledding.

About the first picture: there must've been some friend of a friend of a friend breach, because somehow Elef made it to my Facebook photos.

Elef Neso (Orange County, CA) wrote
at 3:50pm on March 15th, 2008
How do you do that? Make shite look beauty?

I don't know, Elef, I don't know. I just do it.

I also don't know who on earth you are.

Thanks, man.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

From the Vault - Ski Week 2008, Point Reyes

I've been feeling nostalgic for the days of good pictures and good company, so here are some from the vaults. This is ski week, 2008. Grahme, Nate and I joined Chris at his mom's in Point Reyes. We planned to go camping somewhere off of Sky trail (see He went thataway, 3/19), but the weather kept us in, drinking beer and whiskey, playing games for 3 days.

Grahme's pack, unlike the rest of ours, did not hold headlamps and camp stoves. Grahme's pack had liar's poker, Slamwich, Boggle, Set and a bunch of other games I can't remember. So after a day's hike to where we wouldn't be camping, we got some food to make dinner, had dinner and then dug in.

I was a pro at Liar's Poker. Nate's Texas sized hands made him a Slamwich savant. Grahme and Chris also had good showings. We were all winners. Just like in children's league soccer. My 3-inch tall trophy is sitting on the mantle as I write these words. I also got the take away of a little insight into the world of men. Being the only girl in Boystown was fun. I don't know if they were trying to make me feel comfortable, but we talked about relationships a whole lot in between glasses of Jack and bottles of beer.

Today, today!

Thank goodness for red lights. He looked away when he saw me with the camera.

There's more of that red stuff over to the left, but you can't see it. Go to 6th between Folsom and Mission to take in the whole mural. It's so cool. You've got all that geometry happening to the left and right, and then an explosion of grafitti in the middle. It's all grafitti, I know, but the style in the middle of the piece is more traditional.

I hope no one does anything to it. Our stupid kids who call themselves taggers who only scribble on notebook paper and the back windows of MUNI if they're brave enough like to show how down they are by writing "Toy" across pieces that they deem inferior - not art, not grafitti, not good. Silly little teenaged minds. Lots of fronts. Who they really are, no one knows yet. I hope they don't destroy this piece.

Good day in the city today. I saw a bunch of Miro pieces I'd never seen before in a place I'd never been when, really, I was only in town to look for boots. The ceiling was made of gross old squares of who knows what; some were stained. I felt sorry for the paintings. But I was happy to see the work. Alex called while I was at the gallery. He has a backyard now.

It was warm and hardly windy, even downtown. Thank you sweet jeebus.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I'm a VIP - California Academy of Sciences

My friend Grahme used to be my co-worker. Then he got this kick ass job at the new California Academy of Sciences. So even though the mention of his name yields shouts of, "Grahme who?!" or "He's dead to us!" I enjoy the perks. And I never shout those things. I'm afraid he'll hear them in his heart and then I won't get to do cool stuff like go to pre-openings of "the country's premier science museum," the first of its kind west of the Mississippi.

There were so many aquariums. And all of them had things in them that looked like rock-dinosaur-monster mixes. Really interesting sushi possibilities. The guys of Slanted Door are going to have a cafe there, so if you want $46 spring rolls made with dinosaur monster fish, go there. Best in town.

Opening day is September 27th. It'll be free and you can expect to see political celebrities like Gavin Newsom and Arnold Schwarzeneger. I'm not even going to check the spelling on that. After opening day, expect to pay $25 for your entry. For a little perspective, that is 50 Cliff's Z-Bars at Trader Joe's.

p.s. Sujata took picture #2.
p.p.s. I don't know why we're smiling like that. We weren't that happy. My shoes were kind of hurting.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Better Half, take 2

I don't look twice at message tees. This guy brought his to attention after I moved off of his stoop so he could pass on by. Hello, here's my tee shirt. You know he almost got into it with some guy down on the Embarcadero over it. Walking along, "minding my own business with a friend of mine", he was approached by some other guy who asks him what he means by that shirt. Shirt guy says nothing. He doesn't mean a damn thing by it. It's just a shirt. But what do you mean by it? Are you trying to insult me? The man doing the asking was black and referring to the ugly and archaic insult relating black people to monkeys. Shirt guy's friend stepped in and cooled the situation down and everyone went on their own way.

Shirt guy was still frustrated and even a little bit angry about the whole mess, though.
"My wife is darker than that man was. I married an African-American woman ten years ago. Best thing to ever happen to me. Best thing. Too bad I didn't meet her sooner, when I was twenty."
"Maybe you wouldn't have been ready for her when you were twenty."
"I was in Vietnam when I was twenty. But you don't know what that was like."
"I'm glad I don't know what that was like."
"It's better you don't know what that was like."

We said those last two things at almost the same time.

The bottom of his mustache was yellow, from the smoking I'm guessing. I thought that was kind of cool. Not the smoking, just the record of it. Dandruff all over the shoulders of his brown beautiful monkey tee shirt. He kept telling me I'd break my camera taking a picture of him. Then we said goodbye and me and my friend got called in for a table for brunch and I forgot to order the beignets which is the only reason I wanted to go there in the first place.

Monday, September 8, 2008

I'm saaaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiling!

That's right. I'm one of those people. You're driving across the bridge on a nice sunny day. You're going to meet your friend for brunch. Inside. Where it's just okay. And then you see all those sailboats. "Who are those people?" you wonder. "How can people effing afford boats for fuck's sake?" And I am on that boat. That's right. That one right there. And I'll tell you how to afford it. Be friends with people who have boats or sailing club memberships because your cheap ass will never take the class or pay the dues because then you won't have money to buy milk for your babies.

That's not my (friends who sail's) boat. I'm in another boat that's really great and nice.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Stay sharp

I walked by this shop who knows how many times without ever stopping in. A new friend who may now be an old friend brought me in for the first time last month. There are signs everywhere telling you that no photos are allowed so I won't put the name of the place down here so that I can remain safe and at large.

Now I buy things like this. I'm one of those people. I'd never categorized "people who buy cactuses and succulents" before. I didn't know it was so widespread. Now I'm part of this group. I use them to decorate my classroom. So far, two rotten young people have been injured as a result. I have also started bringing them into my private home. They look nice. One has tiny flowering vines and the other looks like a cross between a heart and a brain.

I know the shop has, as a matter of fact, some brains. I don't know about hearts, though. Next week.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Better Half, take 1

Don't let the look fool you.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Yes, I took that picture too.

I know, girl. We've all taken this picture. But just like you, I like mine best. There are a number of reasons to support mine being the best, most of which involve commentary on the phone lines. I know you know I'm right. I can tell by the way you rolled your eyes like you didn't care, but you really did. I can read you like a large print book.

I've been unlucky getting good shots lately. Do a dance from your favorite religion for me so things start looking up. Light candles for me. Put things out there to the universe. Watch Dr. Phil.

I will wait right here.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

She's in town.

My camera hasn't left my side, but I haven't been inspired lately. Not much turning my head. An existential funk? Post-travel blues?

Frida Kahlo was just one of the million stencils all over the streets of San Cristobal de las Casas. Her work is on display at MOMA. I've seen her work in a lot of exhibits - surrealist painters, women artists...here and in Los Angeles. Her biography and her work was part of every Spanish class I ever took in high school.

She's Fridatastic, I know, but I don't know if I'm ready for another look just yet. I think we need to take a break.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Ice Cream Guy

I needed a break from the Mexico pictures. I post this photo of Ice Cream Guy from my first day of summer break, back when the sun was still coming out and it was warm.

ICG is eating (having a good time with?) a cone of organic ice cream. These two girls with a cooler were coming around to people asking them if they wanted to try some of the girls' fresh organic ice cream in all these different organic flavors. Girl, I heard you. You said it was organic. I mean organic. But why should anyone believe them? I only believe things are organic when the person telling me that is wearing clay colored wool socks with no elastic and some weird kind of sandals that are probably really bad for your feet but were made by sheep in Central America or something. You know that shit's organic.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


I generally stay away from tours. As much as is possible, I take a bus to the place I want to visit and take my time. Chances are that I'll likely have done some reading about the place beforehand to get at least a minimal grounding in what I'm looking at, sitting on, walking through. I've had some pretty boring or just plain bad tours in the past where all I really want to do is go at my own pace. I don't want to hear the guide repeatedly reassure the group that the citizens of Cusco are not gay despite their city's rainbow flag. I don't want to hear Ferris Beuller's history teacher read me the fast fact boxes for three grueling hours. So I go on my own when I can.

But there are no buses to Zinacantan. I signed up for a tour in what was the most visually appealing office with people who smiled and answered my questions patiently. What was so cool about this tour was that the visit to the town involved going to a family's home and sitting in their packed dirt floor kitchen on little chairs (think pre-school size) and eating tortillas and beans and cheese and salsa before topping it all off with some of the regional home brew liquor while our guide told us about the place and family.

This is a kitchen shot. The tortilla production continued while we were there. I effing love tortillas.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


It's way hotter than it looks.

Tulum was praised by friends and colleagues who'd made the town and its ruins part of their travels, or pardon me, their vacations, in the past. "Don't forget to try..." or "You should stay at..." Don't do it. As Mark, a 20-something young man I met on my bus escape out of Tulum put it, "This area is made up of a bunch of scuzzy little towns, like this one."

Before the attack begins, I want to clarify that statement as far as I am concerned. It resonated for me for sure and put words to the confusion I was feeling at not having the time of my life in Tulum. Can't speak for Mark. Nothing can touch the powdery white sands and Caribbean blue of the warm ocean water. The uncared for cabanas, the little tour information palapas and the few beach clubs (read: a few chairs or beach beds that a hotel owns) of the northern beaches, the many families and European tourists on holiday - all those things help to create a beach environment not unlike those of my experiences here in the states. That coupled with the economic necessity of staying at a hotel in the seemingly uncared for little town equals a great big "What's the big deal?"

There was a bar on the main street, Tulum Avenue, that has a big screen over it playing music videos on a loop. I don't remember how many times I heard the same Britney Spears song blaring as I tried to sleep in my palapa roofed room at L'Hotelito. Ear plugs only help so much. I guess when I say scuzzy, I am thinking of a lot of the restaurants and other tourist-centered businesses that seemed to think, as far as I could tell, that by virtue of their demographic, they didn't have to try that hard. The tourists would come no matter what. And they did. To the sad and dim little hotel rooms with bathrooms that could've benefited from every chemical cleaning product the planet has to offer, to the bike rental shops with rusted bikes to the Mexican-Chinese restaurant (no Chinese people in sight). People came. The proprietors, the employees, didn't have to try to hard to bring in the lost visitors just looking for a place to have their morning coffee or spaghetti dinners.

But how about the ruins? The ruins, I thought, would have to be the saving grace of this leg of my travels. Every spot along the way I was determined to find at least one thing I liked. (This was a goal that I articulated only when things weren't so immediately hopeful.) I was mistaken. The ruins at Tulum themselves are not the disappointment. Rather, it is the environment that is constructed to show these reminders of the Mayans that once ran the show around there. The site can only be described as an archaeological Disneyland, with the appropriate ropes, lines, guides and water attractions. And don't forget to spend your American dollars in the "library" on your way out.

The feria artesania on the way to the parking lot was a let down too. Magnets, sombreros...And no shortage of customers. Why do people travel far from home to places like this? And enjoy it? My time in Tulum, my expectations and the reality of the visit, got me thinking about these questions. So I did get something out of it.

And for what it's worth, I never rented the rusty bike to check out the southern public beaches past the more expensive beachfront hotels. It was too damn hot for me to make that kind of ride without keeling over along the way. My guidebook gave the impression that I'd have found nothing but beach, and maybe my own little stretch of it.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Devotion, San Cristobal

There were a few of these in the Templo Santo Domingo. I've grown used to small towns in Mexico, like this one - small despite it's big reputation, having what seems to be one church for every 10 people. Grown used to it, expect it, and really, I love it.

A guy I met on the red eye I took down to Mexico City asked me if I am religious. If you just scrunched up your nose and said, "Huh?" out loud, well, that's quite an appropriate response. Strangers on a plane and such a personal question. Who but political pundits and clergy talk about religion in personal conversation these days? But the question came during the course of a long on-off conversation where this guy asked me questions and I answered them. At first I tried to assert myself by initiating some of the talk myself, but then I decided to stop. I was curious about what he'd ask next, because there was definitely going to be a next. An there wasn't necessarily a connection between the last question and the next. "Dolphins or manatees? Are you religious?"

So, after a short pause to think about whether I wanted to answer this question to a 99.9% stranger, I did. So I'll tell you too. It's easier to start with what I'm not. I'm not religious in the sense that I identify with an organized religion. I appreciate and even long for the ritual these groups bring, but I cannot reconcile myself with the political choices so many of these groups have sustained for so long. I don't feel open, spiritual or compassionate in a setting that promotes judgment as part of its theology. But here's what I am (and I usually shy away from using this word out loud): spiritual. I believe I'm not alone. I feel a connection to the world at large, to my fellow human beings - even the rotten seeming ones. I believe that love and compassion are very powerful. It's this small handful of things I am able to articulate that help me travel alone to a place I've never been, where my grasp of the language is not so solid and be okay, even have a great time.

Traveling alone is a mixed bag. What's great is that you wake up every day, you decide what you're going to do, and then you do it. That feels great. You meet all kinds of new people. Now granted, a lot of those are one time conversations - this isn't necessarily an effort to make a bunch of forever friends. Those one time, or one town, conversations, are often very rich and certainly memorable. This meeting people part, though, isn't always easy. You can't force it.

There are bound to be certain parts of your trip where you feel kind of lonely. That's when you start noticing all the groups of friends and couples around you. And they're likely not in it to meet new people. They've got their people. You might, as a solo traveler, go a whole day where the only talking you do is the ordering of your lunch or asking how much a bus ticket is. And while some of those days can feel pretty nice and relaxing, when their the lonely sort, it's the worst. But I've got some good medicine for that: I find one of those old colonial churches, step inside and reflect. I think about what's going on for me - why I'm feeling the way I do, what I need, what I'm trying to get out of my trip...all kinds of stuff. And then ten minutes, half an hour, an hour later - enough time to see a few streams of the devoted and tourists wander through, I feel pretty alright and I leave.

And then, I have a good rest of my day. I've just simplified the whole process a whole lot, but that's the gist of it. Airplane guy was on his way to Colombia for two weeks and he was not a Spanish speaker. When we got off of the plane in D.F. and were on our way to immigration, he said, "I'm sure missing home right now." That reminded me of when my friend Abby picked me up to take me to the BART station so I could get to the airport. I said, "I don't want to go anymore." I don't think I've ever said anything like that when I've traveled with others. So I wanted to tell plane guy about my church thing - if he felt lonely, to just find a church, go in. But I didn't. There wasn't enough time to explain my thinking around this sure cure. And it felt too private to share with the 99.5% stranger (we made some progress over the course of the flight).

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

On the street - Chiapas

When Rodrigo, a friend I made in San Cristobal, saw the series of photos I took of the top image he said with a hint of exasperation, "You Americans always take a picture of that." He also said at one point, "We Mexicans love our colors," and ain't that the truth.

Every street has at least a small pocket bursting with color. And it fits, because it's not just that one house or two on that one street or two. It's everywhere. Unimpressed with another photo I took, Rodrigo said, "Oh. A blue house." But he just doesn't get it. The house wasn't just blue, it was a striking bright blue that could serve as a landmark for commercial jets to know exactly where they were. Crayola, Jelly Belly, M & M's - they could never replicate the color. Maybe Kool Aid, though.

There are homes here and there in my neighborhood that do something interesting with their exterior paint choices, but it is certainly not a cultural norm, much less an expectation. In fact, those are the houses that neighbors whisper about, roll their eyes about, worry about, "They're driving down our property value!" But maybe I'm wrong. I do live in the bay area. We've got some freaky deakies 'round here who do all kinds of stuff that scare people from the suburbs and Midwest. But I suppose the question is, is can they do their freaky business with style?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Saturday, April 19, 2008

I went out for milk.

Saturday afternoon in front of the bakery.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Thursday, April 10, 2008

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