A girl and her glasses

How many of you had horrible, embarrassing glasses growing up? Oh, I SO did. I got to thinking about my years with glasses recently, after the kind folks at Lookmatic offered to hook me up with a new pair of specs. It couldn’t have come at a better time, since my previous pair were scratched beyond belief and about two prescriptions out of date (rendering them only wearable in the house).

Can I just put this out there and say that I’m so glad that glasses became a vogue, chic thing to have as of a few years ago? I definitely never felt that way when I was a kid. I first had to get glasses when I was 9, in the third grade. My prescription, as it’s been ever since, was pretty ludicrous, and my glasses at the time even more so. Side note: this isn’t something to brag about, but I will anyway: in nearly 20 years with corrective eyewear of some sort, I have only ever found one person who had a prescription worse than mine. I can’t believe I’m sharing this today, but here is a picture of me in my first pair of glasses. This was probably taken circa 1993. Read the full post +

"All we wanna know is where the stars came from, but do we ever stop to watch them shine?" - Jon Bellion

Salut, 2010

Whoooooosh! Did you hear that? That rushing sound you hear is me, bustling about (both the city and the country) for the last two weeks. They’ve been a total whirlwind.

My last post was a bit vague (though I hope you enjoyed the photo — it’s meaningful in ways I’ll elaborate on in a minute), but a lot has been going on recently.

I had time off from work from December 23 through January 4 (hooray for holiday hours!), and was able to fly home to Texas and be with family. Which was good, since our first day there, my grandmother’s dear gentleman friend — my surrogate grandfather in a way, as I never knew either of my grandfathers — passed away very suddenly. It was a subdued Christmas to say the least. The weird thing? I wasn’t as torn up as I thought I’d be. Not because it wasn’t sad and unfortunate and shocking, because it was all of those things. But maybe at my very young age, I’ve come to accept death as my constant companion in life. Longtime readers of this here blog (and my close friends) know that death is no stranger to me. It’s not tragic that an elderly man, who’d lived an extraordinarily full life and traveled to every corner of the globe (even Antarctica!) passed away. The hard part is going on without him. It’s always easier to leave than be left.

But I won’t force you to dwell on all that with me.

We returned to San Francisco on the 28th, and had two peaceful days before we began packing like mad, as we had (insanely?) planned to move apartments the first weekend of the New Year. (!!!) The photo from my last post was the view Joe and I had had for three and a half years. I took that shot the day before we tore our little home apart, stuffing things into boxes and carting them across town. I think I’ll miss that view, though admittedly, our new apartment is all kinds of fabulous. I took some photos of our old place and am working on taking photos of the new one (hey, we just moved three days ago — cut me some slack!), and will put together a post of the two soon.

On the cookery front, things have been pretty simple around here. Tonight I made some lamb shoulder chops with quick-braised kale, and we managed to imbibe an entire bottle of Chateauneuf…I guess it was just one of those Tuesdays. The best part about eating in our new apartment is that we finally have a formal dining room, something we definitely didn’t have before. In fact, I don’t know if I ever mentioned it, but Joe and I had no dedicated dining space before. He ate at his desk and I would eat either on the floor or at our coffee table. We’d usually watch TV and not talk while we ate, which 1) felt sacrilegious, as my mother never let us eat dinner with the TV on — it was strictly family time, and 2) usually resulted in us scarfing our food down and eating more than we should. Every night since we’ve been in our new apartment, Joe and I have eaten together at the table, with candles, as a family. It’s nice.

Goals for 2010, the year I turn 26:

  • Continue walking to work. I decided to stop buying MUNI passes, suck it up, and just walk the 2.6 miles to my work everyday. It takes me around 45-50 minutes, which isn’t much longer than the bus was taking me anyway. The lazy part of me wants to hit snooze and take the bus, but the determined part of me (which I’m determined to let win out!) is going to keep walking. My legs already feel worked out after only two days, my appetite is up (surprise, surprise) and I’ve been incredibly thirsty. All signs point to my body liking the exercise. Whodathunk?
  • Take more photos. (duh!)
  • Let go. I’m really good at getting anxious over nothing and working myself up into a total tizzy. Then, I internalize all of it and don’t let anyone know what I’m anticipating might happen, which only makes it worse. I’ve given myself two panic attacks in my life doing this (though none in the last few years). I need to work on going with the flow, and shut off all the annoying what ifs that continuously pop into my brain.
  • Write more. This is the year I start writing more short stories, and perhaps outlining a novella. God, I sound so pretentious saying it, but it’s a goal of mine, so there you have it.
  • Stay in better touch with friends and family. No explanation necessary. I’m terrible at calling people back.
  • Keep up with my French lessons. I want to be able to have a simple conversation with a French speaking person with no fear, and a better accent.
  • Save more money. Not just for the fun stuff, but for the rainy day account too.

I think that’s a good set of goals, no?

I’m a little tired now, as these last few days are finally catching up to me, so I need to sign off and take a long, hot shower, then curl up in bed next to my already sleeping friend. Here are some of the first photos I took with my fun new camera, taken on Christmas Day, when I took it out for a test drive. The thing that amazes me is all of these photos were taken with automatic settings, which tend to yield the least interesting pictures, I think. If I had had more time to fool around with the aperture and shutter (like in the SF skyline picture) some of these could’ve been better. Either way, I think we can all agree my 5 year old point-and-shoot can be put up on the shelf, immediately: Read the full post +

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I still remember the heat

Though I grew up in Austin, my grandmother lived only a short drive away from us in the outskirts of Houston. So as a kid, my parents would often unload me let me spend long swaths of time at her house in the summer — sometimes three weeks or even a month. She would take me to Toys-R-Us and made sure to always have those green bottles of Coca-Cola  stocked in her refrigerator. Sometimes, we’d make homemade ice cream out on her backyard patio; the patience required for our cool treat was made all the more unbearable by the thick Texas heat. I yearn for those days now.

Every morning, my grandmother and I would wake up early, and brew a pot of coffee. It’s funny that I’m not much of a coffee drinker as an adult, and I wasn’t really then either — I think I just loved the smell and the ritual of brewing it. She would pour me a very small teacup full, and I would dump in spoonfuls of sugar and a heaping of milk that turned it into a light caramel color. We would go outside in our pajamas, and sit on a small wooden bench next to her swimming pool. As we sipped the morning brew, we’d sing songs and repeat nursery rhymes to each other. “Zippity-Doo-Dah” was a daily must.

And during my summer visits, we’d often drive down to the coast, to Galveston, about an hour from her house. She had a gentleman friend who was in possession of a very fine double decker boat, which was a joy to take out on those muggy, humid summer days. My grandmother still has a picture of me on the boat one summer, a too-big bright orange life jacket strapped tightly across my chest — I must be about 6 or 7 in it.

On these trips to Galveston, we would always stop at a small restaurant right on the beach, whose name I can no longer remember. But, I do remember that it wasn’t much to look at from the outside, and that it was built right over the water on stilts, with a large deck area in the back — much like the picture above. It was sandwiched between two souvenir shops, replete with “I went to Galveston and all I got was this lousy t-shirt” type gifts. But I never held that against it.

I remember the restaurant mostly for its gumbo. We’d sit out on that back deck, ignoring the oppressive summer heat and relishing the salty air, inhaling bowls of seafood gumbo with saltines and washing it all down with big, sweating glasses of iced tea. No matter the time or place, a day spent near or on the ocean always makes one hungry.

The roux in the stew was black as night — a sign of true devotion to the dish, for creating a base that dark requires at least an hour of work, cooking time for the rest of the ingredients not included. I don’t know what got me thinking about the gumbo I used to eat there — Maybe it was the spicy zing of the gumbo that would burn the back of my throat and numb my lips for an hour after eating it? Or the rich, nutty flavor of the base? — but last weekend, I had a big hankering for it. Joe was game for whatever I wanted to make for dinner, so when I floated “gumbo,” and he didn’t pass, I couldn’t either. Read the full post +