Monthly Archives: August 2006

Little Miss Sunshine


If you haven’t seen it yet, go see Little Miss Sunshine. I saw it last week and haven’t laughed that hard in a movie in many, many years.

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Congratulations Yiyun and Jason!


Congratulations to Yiyun Li, my friend and former thesis advisor at Mills College, and to Jason Roberts, my colleague at the San Francisco Writers Grotto, for being nominated for the 2006 Guardian First Book Award. The award is for 10,000 British pounds and will go to one of 10 first authors nominated for their outstanding fiction and nonfiction works this year. Yiyun was nominated for her book of short stories A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, and Jason was nominated for his nonfiction book about a blind adventurer called A Sense of the World. A shortlist will be announced in November and the winner will be announced in December. I hope they both win!

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I Am Elated


Last week I had dinner at Cafe Gratitude on Shattuck in North Berkeley for the first time. I have friends who frequent the place, so I’d heard of it, but it wasn’t until that night that I discovered that the food there is both vegan and raw. Only the grains – the rice and the quinoa – are steamed. I know raw food is trendy, and I believe there is some big restaurant in Manhattan called simply “Raw,” but I also think the idea the whole idea is atrocious. I mean, what in God’s name would possess someone to eat all their food raw when they could cook it? Fine to have a salad with a few raw vegetables, but all vegan, all raw, all the time? Yek. I also know a couple who live up in Mendocino who eat only raw foods. The last time I saw them they had a giant salad for lunch, some green juice (spinach, kale, green chard, etc.) for a snack, and another huge salad for dinner. Okay if you’re trying to lose 10 pounds, but EVERY day? They showed me the dryer they use to dry out dough (because they can’t cook it) to make pizza, and they showed me the $500 contraption they bought to make ice cream out of almonds. I determined that weekend that you have to be rich to eat raw – and crazy. So I wasn’t too excited about Cafe Gratitude and kept telling Martin that I was going to get some good pork tapas at Fonda afterward. Then, just before we entered the door, I joked, “Watch, after all my complaining I’ll probably love it and want to go back.” And that’s what happened. Cafe Gratitude’s food is SO good that you would never know it’s raw and vegan. I couldn’t tell you exactly what I ate, but it was some kind of enchilada with quinoa and salad and it was DELICIOUS. For appetizers we had bruschetta (on some type of biscuit, not bread) and samosas and they were both delectable. For dessert they were all out of the vegan chocolate cream pie, so we had tiramisu and it was wonderful. The place isn’t as cheap as vegetarian food often is (last night I got the veggie plate at Curry Cafe for $4.99) – with wine and dessert we paid $35 apiece – but it’s worth every penny. The decor is beautiful, too – all the walls are exposed brick. The place used to be a Polish restaurant, then an Italian restaurant after that. Now the downside …

Each dish on the menu is called “I am elated,” “I am grateful,” “I am generous,” etc. So when you order, rather than say, “I’ll have the carrot avocado soup” you’re supposed to say, “I am divine,” and if you don’t, the waitress will say in an annoyingly chipper voice, “So you are divine?” The waitresses are hipper than thou and all dance around to “Today is your birthday!” if it’s someone’s birthday. The whole gimmicky “I am (fill in the blank)” is a little too much, but the food is awesome, the atmosphere is cozy and best of all – according to TrafficSchool.com, raw fruits and vegetables will make you a better driver!

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Traffic School


I’m taking a break today from my reading/writing/tutoring schedule to do traffic school online. It’s due Tuesday and so far I’ve only completed one out of seven lessons. And this is what I’ve learned so far:

You should get lots of sleep every night.
You should eat your fruits and vegetables-especially raw ones.
You should exercise (but not too close to bed time).
You shoudn’t do drugs.
You should reduce stress in your life through deep breathing.

This is TRAFFIC SCHOOL! What a waste of my time! The whole first chapter was on health – really basic, obvious health information. But then on the chapter quiz they ask you some specific question like “What percent of commercial vehicle drivers had accidents due to a lack of sleep?” Fortunately, you can keep two windows open – one with the quiz and one with all the answers. And you can take the final exam as many times as you want.

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Back on the Stopwatch


This week I started a new writing schedule-three hours a day-or 20 hours per week. I started on Wednesday and I am up to nine hours so far. It usually takes me five hours on the computer to write for three because of all the e-mail and Internet distractions. That’s why on Thursday I walked down to the pub to write. The pub on Solano in North Berkeley is my second home. But I drink tea there, so it’s not as bad as it sounds. I LOVE the pub. I tutor there, write there, and play board games there on Sunday nights. I’ll blog more about the pub one of these days, and take some photos of it. Meanwhile, I’ve been very tired the past few days from all the writing. Writing is more tiring than climbing or running or tutoring or reading (although tutoring several hours in one day wears me out, too). Still, I need to finish my book this fall, so I need to stick to this schedule. And there’s no reason why I shouldn’t. I’m done with school. The wedding is over. I work less than 20 hours per week. So now it’s time. Time to finish the book, get an agent, sell the damn thing and be done with it so I can start writing some fiction.

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Checklist MEME

I think of memes as blog fillers. When you can’t think of what to write, meme! But they are fun, and sometimes I can’t resist. Plus I’m buying time while I study quadratic equations (to help a student). This one is from C(h)ristine. Highlight the things you’ve done.

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said “I love you” and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diaper
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb (petted one, but not held)
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was shit faced
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe (traveled MUCH in Europe, but never by backpack)
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Posed nude in front of strangers
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an expert
83. Gotten flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Had a one-night stand
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raised children
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Petted a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a body part of yours below the neck pierced
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states (not sure about this one)
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Petted a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad – and the Odyssey
135. Selected one important author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone’s life

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The Bachelorette Party

I never wanted a bachelorette party. I associate them with drunken frat parties and sorority rushing. But then someone at my bridal shower jokingly said, “So who’s going to organize the bachelorette?” and I piped in with, “I’ve never been to a strip club!” It was true, I hadn’t. And why should guys have all the fun? “Let’s go to a male strip club,” I said, half-jokingly. Then Whitney organized it. Only Whitney couldn’t find a straight male strip club in San Francisco (how pathetic is that?), so she planned a night at Asia SF, with the choice of a trannie show and dinner upstairs or a private party with a male stripper downstairs. I chose the private party mainly because it included a scavenger hunt, and I love scavenger hunts. We ended up getting the best of both worlds because one of the transvestites did shows for the bachelorettes who had chosen the spotlight show over the male stripper (I chose the male stripper because I hate being in the spotlight more than I hate men shaking their things in my face) AND we got to see all the transvestites dance to musical numbers upstairs while I was searching the security guard and spanking the bouncer (as part of my scavenger hunt.) First we ordered drinks and had a private buffet dinner—chicken satay, soba noodles, tofu and seafood—then we watched the other girls’ spotlight shows and danced for a while, then my friends made me drink two more cocktails before they stuffed my boots and bra with one-dollar bills. I have to say the stripper show was pretty entertaining. I couldn’t bear to touch his oily body (ew), but I was laughing really hard when he made me lie on the ground so he could mimick “doing me” in different positions. Turned on I was not; hysterical I was. And now there are plenty of incriminating pictures of me on the Internet so I’ll appear well rounded – just one o’ the gals – if I ever decide to run for office. By the end of the night I was drunk enough to give the DJ a lap dance. Yep, a lap dance. Amazing what six extra-sized cocktails will do for your self-confidence. (The photo is of me with Simone, one of Asia SF’s transvestite performers.)

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