Thursday, January 31, 2013

Oh My God. Obsessed: The Only Way is Essex

In addition to "What'chu Readin', Girl?", I've decided to do another regular post called, "Oh My God. Obsessed". I quite regulary come across a new tv show, person, food, or hobby that completely consumes my life. During this time, all of my thoughts, dreams, and Google searches revolve around my newest passion. Past obsessions include knitting, scrapbooking, Noosa yogurt, vegetarianism, Game of Thrones, and Michael Fassbender. Generally, these obsessions last about two to three weeks, but in special cases have spanned months or even years like the Royal Family, Elvis, the Kennedys, The West Wing, Steel Magnolias, Robyn, Friday Night Lights and Leonardo Dicaprio. I'm going to use "Oh My God. Obsessed" to tell you all about the latest thing that has me actin' a fool.

On Saturday night, as I was trying to convince a girl to watch Downton Abbey with all of the fervor of a Mormon missionary, my friend interrupted to insist that I watch The Only Way is Essex on Hulu. Sunday, with little to do and a pounding headache (wonder where that came from), I camped out in bed for a mini marathon. And it was good. It was so good!

The Only Way is Essex is a reality television show from Britain and it puts all of our trashy reality shows to shame. As I told my BFF, it would be like if Brody Jenner from The Hills/Kings of Malibu married J.Wow from Jersey Shore, had a baby and raised it in England, specifically Essex, which is apparently the New Jersey or Orange County of England. Amazing, right?

Admittedly, I didn't know what they were saying for the first couple of episodes, but you get used to it by episode three or so. Also, they film just a few days before each episode airs, so you get to watch them react on camera to crazy drama that happened in the last episode. Oh my gosh, just hurry up and watch it so we can talk all about the crazy!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

"What'chu Readin', Girl?" : Tales of the City by Armistad Maupin

Since moving to San Francisco, I've made it a personal goal to read as many books and articles as I can about this city I now - kind of- call home.  My progress has been slow, but gratifying.  I started And The Band Plays On  and The Mayor of Castro Street, in addition to a million web and news articles.  Throughout my reading (and oddly enough, various Craigslist rental ads), I kept hearing about Tales of the City by Armistad Maupin.  Finally, two weeks ago, I came across a display featuring the book at a local bookstore and brought it home with me.  And whoa.  It rocked my world. Before I get into all that though, let me give you a little backstory. 

So Tales of the City started as a newspaper serial that ran in the San Francisco Chronicle during the late 1970s.  (Sidenote: Newspapers are constantly worried about losing readers.  My answer: Resurrect Serials! Especially if they are as steamy as this.  I'd buy a paper everyday.  Seriously.) The stories, which followed the lives of the residents of 28 Barbary Lane, became so popular that they were published as a series of novels beginning in 1978.  The subsequent novels inspired a mini-series which originally aired on PBS and starred Laura Linney (this surprised me because it seems a little racy for PBS).  You can bet I'll be adding those to my Netflix queue. 

Anyway, Tales of the City knocked my socks off and I'm anxious to start the rest of the series.  It's seriously the quickest read in the world, because the chapters are super short and there is so much drama that you can't stop reading.  It's like reading the script of a super crazy soap opera from the 1970s.  Or like, Melrose Place, but in 1970s San Francisco (a time that seems pretty great IMO) instead of 1990s Los Angeles.  So, way better.  It has all the best things to read about, but not necessarily experience: adultery, a secret (and possibly Asian) love child, lots of drugs, bathhouses (and not the kind where you take baths), terminal illness,  more adultery!, private investigators.  And really, that's just the tip of the iceberg.  I didn't want to give away too much.  There were times where I'd read something so shocking, that I'd just gasp and have to set my book down for a minute to process the crazy.  It's soooo good!

Read it so we can have a Google Hangout and talk all about it. 

Great Read for Fans Of...
soap operas, quick fiction reads, San Francisco, drama

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

"What'chu Readin', Girl?" Wild by Carol Strayed

So, I heard about this book, like a lot of people, from Oprah.  Oprah's Book Club picks are really hit and miss for me, but I really enjoy non-fiction narratives so I bought it.  Actually, that's not true.  I told my dad that he should buy it so I could borrow it when he finished.  Because you can still freeload off your parents when you're 28.  After a minor SNAFU with the postal service (they put my book in the wrong mailbox that just happened to be opened so I peeked inside and found my book!) and a great review by my dad, I was ready to start. 

Basically, this book is about a woman who decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail when her life spirals out of control (divorce, drug abuse, promiscuous sex) after the death of her mother.  For those of you that don't know (like me), the Pacific Crest Trail is a long distance hiking trail that stretches from the Mexican Border to the Canadian border, running through California, Oregon, and Washington.  Some highlights include the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Range, Crater Lake, and the Bridge of the Gods. 

Now, I'm just mildly interested in hiking.  Which is to say, I'm not interested in hiking at all.  I mean, I'll go.  Especially if I'm guilted into or if everyone is going and I don't want to be left out of all the inside jokes that would inevitably develop, because there is absolutely nothing worse than being on the outside of an inside joke! 

However, despite my indifference about hiking, I found this book incredibly entertaining and ultimately convinced myself that I could hike the Pacific Crest Trail.  You're probably laughing about that because you know me and you know that I've probably only hiked like twice in my whole life, but you'll feel the same way after reading this book because the author is extremely ill prepared for this trip.  I've never taken a long distance hike in my life and it was quite obvious to me that Ms. Strayed had no idea what she was doing.  She didn't know how to use a compass! Granted, I don't either, but I'm not attempting a 2000 mile hike anytime soon. 

I also found the author to be a little over emotional, whiny and prone to panic, but that's probably just me being a cold, emotionless bitch.  That being said, I did buy her other book Tiny Beautiful Things, so it obviously wasn't too offputting.  All in all, it's a quick, interesting read that I've already recommended to others. 

Great Read for..hiking/outdoor enthusiasts, people just mildly interested in hiking/outdoors, fans of non-fiction narratives, memoirs

Monday, December 10, 2012

Hansen's Wash and Fold aka Laundry Heaven

If you've ever lived with me, you know how much I utterly despise doing my laundry.  I will put off laundry for a month at a time, buying new clothes to avoid the hated task even just one or two more days.  It's not that I'm lazy (well, probably a little), it's just extremely difficult to do laundry when you don't own your own washer and dryer.  I mean, no one wants to drag all of their laundry (in my case, at least 50 pounds worth) down two flights of stairs, down the street, watch strangers sort their dirty underwear, drag your clean laundry back up the street, and then back up two flights of stairs.  Oh, and you have to pay to do all of that.  $2.25 a load!! Seriously, I think I just accurately described what Hell will be like.  Or at least Purgatory. 

My nearly 50 pound bag of laundry.
 Well, today I was finally let through to laundry heaven, because I found Hansen's Wash and Fold.  This is how it works.  I put all of my dirty laundry in my giant pink laundry bag (thanks, Aunt Norma!) and load it into my car.  On my way to the office I drop it off at Hansen's (who are actually named Chen) with my favored detergent and they tell me, "Thank you! Come back tonight!".  At 6:30, I picked up my freshly washed, dried, and folded clothes that are wrapped in brown paper and packed neatly in my pink bag.  

There were about 10 articles of clothing and 2 towels folded in this bundle. Amazing.
 Guess how much it cost. Sixty-five cents a pound!! I had a whopping 48 pounds of laundry this week so it cost me $31.50, a total bargain.  It would have cost me nearly as much to do it myself! And they folded it so much better than me.  Seriously, their folding work is a thing of beauty.  Plus, I didn't lose a Sunday in the laundromat giving the stink eye to my neighbors when they try to steal my dryer.  "Get away from my dryer!! And stop looking at my underwear, weirdo!"

Someday, hopefully soon, I will own my very own washer and dryer that is ideally located steps from my bedroom and allows me to do free laundry on a much more regular basis.  Until then, I have Hansen's Wash and Fold, which earned itself a very loyal customer today. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

"What'chu Readin', Girl?" : The Mayor of Castro Street by Randy Shilts

So begins my regular post, "What'chu Readin, Girl?" where I tell you about what I'm currently reading.  And not just the high falootin' stuff either.  All of it.  Even the slightly embarrassing romance novels. 

Earlier this summer, I started reading And the Band Plays On by Randy Shilts, a non-fiction book that chronicles the discovery and spread of AIDS.  It was fascinating and incredibly well written, but obviously extremely sad and horrifying.  I wasn't employed at the time so most of my time was spent reading this book, Googling all of the people, places, and AIDS related things I read about, and then regaling my friends with HIV/AIDS related facts and figures.  Which, in case you are wondering, isn't the best conversation starter among people hoping to have a good time.  After a series of AIDS related nightmares and a polite, but firm, overdue notice from the library, I decided to return the book before I'd finished it.  Hoping to find my own copy, I wandered over to my favorite local bookstore Green Apple Books.  While I didn't find And the Band Plays On, I did find another book by Randy Shilts, titled The Mayor of Castro Street, a biography of gay rights pioneer Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in the United States.     

I knew a little about Harvey Milk from the 2008 film Milk (which is excellent!) starring Sean Penn, but this book gives a much more detailed account of Milk and the life he led before coming out and moving to San Francisco.  Most interesting is Shilt's (a longtime San Francisco reporter) account of the city's rich history, specifically it's gay community.  I love learning about the people that have created this incredibly unique city and reading about places I've been that were witness to historic San Francisco events.

I've actually owned this book since August, but was reluctant to start it.  I randomly chose it from my bookshelf last week when I was craving some non-fiction.  It turned out to be a fitting choice, as November 27th marked the 34th anniversary of Milk's (and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone's) assassination, a day still marked in San Francisco by memorial ceremonies, marches, and candlelight vigils. 

Great Read for Fans of...
biographies, non-fiction, San Francisco history, LGBT history and rights

Monday, December 3, 2012

O Tannenbaum!

Despite my love for the Christmas season, I became a little lazy in the holiday decorating department the last couple of years.  Well, new city equals new attitude.  I decided to really go all out.  And by "go all out", I mean buying a Christmas tree.  I'm not about to show you White House caliber decorating or anything, if that's what you were thinking.  I'm still me, and despite some baking skills I've recently honed, I'm still not Martha Stewart. 

Anyway, I started my yuletide home design adventure at Target (where many a great adventure has begun).  Target was not a random choice, as Saturday was the launch of their Neiman Marcus collection.  After I finished hyperventilating over all the beautiful things (the Tracy Reese plates! the Marc Jacobs clutch! the Marchesa dresses!), I finally noticed this beautiful Rodarte ornament and knew I must decorate my entire tree around it. 

Next, I picked up matching bulbs, some lights, and a tree topper and was ready to find the perfect tree.  I considered a fake tree, but when my parents were here for Thanksgiving we kept walking by the tree lots and they smelled wonderful and exactly like Christmas, so I caved and headed to the Castro tree lot on Sunday afternoon. 
My trip to the Christmas tree lot was surprisingly easy, especially when compared to most of the errands I attempt to run in The City.  For instance, I found a legal (this is an important distinction for me) parking spot directly in front of the lot.  This rarely, if ever, happens for me.  I walked in and was immediately approached by a tall, manly gentleman who was quite helpful and friendly, but gave me the distinct impression that he was familiar with the inside of a jail cell (more on that later).  I told him I wanted something small and he led me over to a group of about 15 two and three foot trees.  He must have known that I'm notoriously bad at making decisions because almost immediately he picked a short, stout one and declared it perfect.  I agreed and was ready to make my very first Christmas tree purchase! This was when I found out that real Christmas trees, especially real San Francisco Christmas trees are really freaking expensive.  But it's Christmas!! And my birthday!! So I forked over $40 for a 3 foot tree. Besides, it came with tree stand that was already attached.  And one of the nice, manly employees/convicts carried it to my car (where I had a 30 second internal debate about whether it's appropriate to tip the guy who carries your Christmas tree to your car...I did).  
My tree chillin' like a villain in the Loser.
After a successful trip home, I watered my tree and gave it a little treat in the form of Coca Cola (according to my mother, who knows things like this, trees like pop).  Now came the fun part, the decorations! The most important thing I discover while decorating my tree: real trees smell good, but their needles fall off a lot and it's really annoying and super messy and I already kind of hate my tree and I completely understand my dad would bitch about buying one every year.  

However, the decorating is now done (with only one casualty...a hand-me-down chair that I didn't really like anyway), I've swept up the needles, and my apartment smells amazing, so the tree is back in my good graces.  Plus, it's just so pretty.

Notes: Remember how I thought the tree lot employees looked like convicts? Apparently, I have an eye for such things (as if this is a skill I should be proud of).  Using my stealthy librarian skills (and the brochure given to me upon purchase of my tree), I found out that the lot is run by the Delancey Street Foundation, "a residential self-help organization for former substance abusers, ex-convicts, homeless and others who have reached rock bottom".  Delancey Street Foundation uses the lots as a way to educate residents about the basics of sales.  So not only am I feeling great about how pretty my tree looks, but also where I bought it.  Thank you, Delancey Street Foundation and your friendly, helpful employees!

Also, I'd like about four more of these Rodarte ornaments.  If you see any on clearance after the holidays, pick one up for me! And by clearance, I mean at least 75% off because I'm thrifty like that.

Monday, August 13, 2012

A New Vocabulary

Things I often said at my old job:

"Criss cross, apple sauce, hands in your lap."

"I'll start my story when everyone's voices are off."

"Johnny, take a break.  You can join us when you're ready to be a good listener."

"Hug your books!"

 Things I say at my new job:

"Have you tried to down convert the HD to the SD?" (Yep.  I said down convert. Who am I?)

"The network goes live on Wednesday."

"I can't get your signal up until I get your UA number and TID."

"The UA number for PE2 is one digit higher than the UA number for PE1."