Summer leftovers

I kind of forgot I took these pictures of Calvin-Roo in the last days of summer. It looks like he's almost ready to propell himself into a walk in this one ... Any updates, KK?


Some more from that day:

IMG_0715 IMG_0710 IMG_0709 IMG_0708

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ for Gienna Writes:

1. What are you, some kind of idiot?
Yes. Yes I am.

2. What are you, some kind of moron?
I think we've already established that.

3. Are you an airplane?
No, silly, I'm a boat.

4. Are you an airplane?
No, I am a boat!

5. Are you an airplane?
I told you, I am a BOAT!

6. Are you a boat?
No, silly, I'm an airplane.

7. You seem to talk about yourself a lot. What's up with that?
I don't see your name in the title of the blog. If you don't like it, get your own blog. You could name it "Anonymous Writes."

8. What do you do for a living?
Did you seriously just ask me that?

9. Do you wear surgical masks in public? Perhaps carry excessive amounts of tissue to wrap around your hands when opening doors? Maybe you could wrap yourself entirely in duct tape and seal yourself from any possible contact with humanity.
That's honestly the best idea I have ever heard in my entire life.

10. Does it hurt your feelings when people leave mean comments on your posts?
Yup, but only for a little while.

11. Why don't you delete them, then?
Because I think mean comments say more about the commenter than the commentee.

12. I don't think "commentee" is a word.
That's not really a question.

13. It's sometimes hard to interpret a person's tone on the Internets. How can I tell if what you write is sarcastic or serious?
Sarcasm is usually a pretty safe bet.

The best airplane story ever

Clarification: By "the best airplane story ever" I mean "the most embarrasing airplane story ever." I find my own humiliation amusing.

I called Michael Dukakis an ass on the flight home from San Francisco. True story.

Let me back up a bit.

So I'm boarding the plane and as I walk toward my seat I see a couple are already seated in the middle and aisle seats. As they're getting up to let me in I say, "That's funny--they usually board the window seats first so you don't have to climb over other passengers in your row."

"They don't do that anymore," the woman says. Which I know is not true, but whatever.

So basically I sat next to Mike and Kitty for about six and a half hours without recognizing them. Although I did think that the man, who had a large Greek nose and very bushy eyebrows, looked a little like Dukakis. At one point I thought to myself that he could be a professional impersonator. At another point I wondered if Mike Dukakis has a brother. Then I looked at her and thought that she looked a tiny little bit like Kitty Dukakis. What an amazing coincidence, I thought.


Anyway, it turns out that Mike Dukakis is an armrest hog. In fact, his elbow was actually touching me almost the entire flight. Seriously, there's a reason people choose the aisle or the window. It's so that you don't have to come into contact with people. And if you're in the middle seat I think you just have to suck it up and keep your arms to yourself.

So, in a very subtle way, I started to jostle his arm a little bit. Just the part that was extending into my personal space, as if it were an accident. I would shift and stretch a little bit and give his arm a little push off the armrest and then say "Oh, sorry!" I did this about 15 times and if anything he encroached further into my space ... to the point that I had to reach UNDER HIS HAND to control the volume and change the channel on MY armrest.

That's when I called him an ass. I said it under my breath and in a loud airplane. It's entirely possible that he didn't hear me.

I'm so sure he heard me.

In my defense, by the way, I never heard him speak during the flight. If I had, there would have been no doubt that it was him. But I had my noise-cancelling headphones on (best investment ever) and he was reading a book the entire time.

So now we've landed and the woman pulls out her cell phone, dials a number and hands it to the man. And, very casually, I take of my headphones, because at this point I want to hear his voice.

And he says, "Hi, so-and-so, Mike Dukakis here ... yes, Kitty will be there at 10 tomorrow morning."

Awesome. Could I possibly be MORE of an idiot?

Well, of course, it turns out that I can. During the flight he started sneezing and I may have been a little bit overly dramatic when I put my sweater up to cover my mouth and nose and pressed my body against the wall of the airplane to get as far away from his germs as possible.

When the airplane reached the terminal and people started getting up, a man standing behind the couple claps Dukakis on the back and says "Hello, Governor!" And after they chat for a while about politics a woman sitting in front of us turns around and puts her hand on his arm and says "I just want to thank you for all of your service."

That's when I started pretending I was a foreign tourist. Honestly, if I could speak French I would have pulled out my cell phone and faked a conversation in French. Moi? I am but a foreigner in this land who would have no idea that you are a former Massachusetts Governor and that you ran for President (until your campaign tanked--ha, ha).

Good night, San Francisco

Overall the best vacation I've had in a long time. But I'm still happy to be going home.


Check out my San Francisco set on Flickr.

Monday at the Museum

Matching outfits

I was a little disappointed in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art--they were in between exhibits in some halls and the fifth floor and roof were closed altogether. But the museum itself was cool. It has a striped theme inside and I saw this woman come in with a striped hat ... I basically stalked her all over the museum until I caught her in this photo.

And I would walk five hundred miles ...

I had a slower connection earlier today and realized that, for most normal people, yesterday's post would take about eight hours to load b/c of all the pictures. Sorry, but I can't resist at least one more from yesterday's adventure.

I walked about six miles to take this crappy picture

The Golden Gate Bridge looks a LOT closer to Fisherman's Wharf than it actually is. It looked like it was getting closer and closer as I walked toward it along the waterfront. I kept thinking, OK, I'll just go another 20 minutes. I'll just go as far as that building up there. I'll just go around the next bend. I'll just go as far as Crissy Field. Well, as long as I'm at Crissy field, I might as well go just a little bit further. After an hour and a half of this nonsense, it finally dawned on me that a) the bridge was still very far away and b) I still had to walk back.

My legs are killing me.

Sunday in Chinatown

I was agog like a typical tourist

Chinatown was not exactly what I expected. I had seen pictures, of course, and so the sights were familiar. And yes, Grant Street, which runs straight up the middle from the iconic gate, is crowded with shops selling trinkets, jewelry, paper fans, tee-shirts, postcards, and chirping plastic birds (and yes, I bought some fun little things to bring home for my dog-sitters).

Another touristy one Coca Cola

For Jim So I went for a wok the other day

But it is also a real neighborhood with real people going about their daily business and their lives.

I’m glad I went on a Sunday morning, when the residents way outnumbered the tourists. And I’m really glad I wandered off the main drag, into the side streets and alleys, where people elbowed their way through the crowds to shop for their groceries or talked and laughed with friends and neighbors. Bins of mushrooms and other unidentifiable dried roots, vegetables, fruits, berries, fish, and meats. Strange window displays, wildly ornamented and brightly-colored architecture, and run-down buildings with grated windows covered over with newspapers. The smell of Chinese spices and cigarette smoke.

Modesty sash


And The clunk of sticks hitting the pavement as boys practiced their martial arts, playing at fighting with each other, serious expressions on their faces.

Sunday School

The women are busy, doing their shopping and walking their children to the playgound. The men are a different story. Everybody smokes. Nobody smiles. In fact they barely move. This was the perfect place to practice street photography.

At Portsmouth Square, a band of Chinese folk musicians were playing a concert. In the back of the park, beaneath the shade of a small stand of trees, groups of men stood around playing cards. They were so engrossed they didn't even seem to notice me taking photographs. Or if they did, the simply didn't care.

The Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Co. was not what I expected, either--I pictured a large, clean factory but it is actually a small, narrow, crowded shop on Ross Alley, off Washington Street. Women take turns sitting at a large machine on view for the tourists. A conveyor belt drops rounds of batter onto a griddle, and the women scoop them up while still warm and piable and fold them into the familiar shape.

Fortune Cookies

It costs 50 cents to take a picture. I gave them a dollar and also bought two bags of cookies. That's right, two.

Saturday, in the park ...

I had a little vacation anxiety before I left for this trip to San Francisco … but that is gone, now. Well, mostly. Last night I had a dream that my vacation was over before I expected it to be and I hadn’t done any of the things I wanted to do. But even if I only had the last two days, I would be happy. In fact, the only thing I haven’t done is slow down. You could pack up all the stuff I've bought in the bags under my eyes. I'm going to have to hit the spa pretty soon ... but I'm going to get in one more day of power walking first.

I arrived early in the day on Friday, local time. I’ve already adjusted to local time, too, so even though I’m staying up much later than I would on home time, I’m also waking up at a normal local time here, around 7 a.m.

After checking in, I was lured by the Bloomingdale's sign across the street to one of the largest malls I've ever been to (though the mall at Caesar's Palace tops them all--I thought I was taking a shortcut through it ... four-hours later I arrived at my destination, a block away). I met this awesome and funny guy at the Clarkes store. His name is Noel, and he says he was a rock star in the 60s, that he played Golden Gate park with The Who and Jefferson Airplane (Or Starship, or whatever it was caled in that era). He brought out every single pair they had in my size and I tried them all on while we chatted. He was originally from Rhode Island and he's travelled and lived all over the world. Hey, I'm not saying any of it's true, but it was an interesting conversation nonetheless. And yeah, he sold me two pairs of shoes. He was a very good salesman.

Then I wandered around the Union Square area for a while ... more shopping, and lots of it. I bought a few little things (I can never resist an Anthropologie store), but mostly just had fun window-shopping and people-watching. I stopped at the cable car turntable and Powell and Market--it was a zoo. I haven't taken a cable car ride yet, but it's on my list.

For supper I had a turkey club at the hotel bar and a lovely glass of white wine from the Sonoma Valley ... I have to look up what kind it was--delicious. Met some funny sales guys at a convention, drunk off their asses. I swear one of them looked just like Joe Leiberman, but when I asked him if he was disappointed not to get the vice presidential nomination, he pretended he had no idea what I was talking about. Later, he did admit that he was very disappointed, though.

The hotel is in an awesome location--you can walk to lots of things, including a Walgreens ... key for buying gallon jugs of water for $1.99 instead of spending $8 a bottle at the hotel. (That's about all I've done to save money, though. Something about being on vaction makes you feel like treating yourself. Although, to be fair, one of the two pairs of shoes I bought was on sale.) There's a Starbucks on every corner, of course. People take their coffee very seriously, and you often see people carrying around cups late in the day and even into the night. How do they sleep? I'm at a Starbucks right this very moment, in fact. Grande skinny cafe misto with a booster shot. Mmm. There's also a ton of bars and retaurants nearby.

My room rocks. I could almost reach out and touch Saint Patrick's church and I love the sound of its bells rining, very gentle and soft. I can see the museum of modern art and the Contemporary Jewish Museum and other interesting architecture. I can even see, in the distance, the Bay bridge and a glimpse of the Pacific. My first room had a view of the back of a building and an alley and reeked of cigarette smoke. I am soooo glad I asked for a different room--they definitely made it up to me. My Madonna theory at work and paying off once again.

On Saturday I walked about a mile down Market Street to the Ferry Building on the waterfront, took a very sad picture of the Bay Bridge (see the previous post) and some fun photos of the produce and etc. available at the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market. It was HUGE. I bought tomatoes and plums and peaches and a bag of about 15 figs for $3... at home they are 99 cents each.

You say tomato Farmer's market

At the Boccalone Salumeria I bought some cured meats, which, I learned, are called salumi, and some cheese and crackers. I'm all set, snackwise, for the week.

I love meat

There are craft tents and booths in the area. I bought a cheap but pretty bracelet made of jade-like stones with Chinese characters (I know, I know, I am such a tourist) and had a wonderful time talking to a man selling prints on the sidewalk just outside the market. He has these funny, bright, colorful watercolor painting/drawings San Francisco scenes. I can't even describe it--I'll take a picture of the print I bought, of two cats hugging beneath the Golden Gate bridge, and post it later. It's not as stupid as it sounds. I'm 99% sure I found my mom's birthday present there. It was one of the first things I saw, though, so I'll have to go back.

Meanwhile, in the throng of people, I ran into someone I know (I edited his book) ... he is also here for the conference next week and he and his wife came out early, too. Funny.

In the afternoon the sun came out and I went to the Yerba Buena Gardens (which I can also see from my room). There was a live concert going on. I visited the Martin Luther King Memorial and took pictures of the carousel. Then I skipped over to the SFMOMA and looked around the gift shop. Bought some cards, a watch for me and a funny trinket for my dad. I'll go back first thing tomorrow. The woman in the gift shop said that's a good, quiet time to visit.

Why do carousel animals always look just a little creepy?

Today ... Probably Chinatown which, if I am reading the map right, is also within walking distance. There's a gallery on the way designed by Frank Lloyd Wright that I'd like to see. If the sun comes out this afternoon as promised, I'll hit the Golden Gate bridge. I'd like to go later in the day, when the light is more interesting. That's definitely a further excursion, but I'm not leaving without seeing it!

My vacation so far

The battery in my laptop is about to die, so I'll just give you the highlights:

day 1: shopping
day 2: shopping

I don't know what these are

I am also working on my tan.

My sad bridge picture

It is going very slowly.

Blaming the accident victim

A pedestrian was hit by a car crossing Humphrey Street in Swampscott yesterday--Labor Day. I was out for a walk down by the beach with KK and M--we didn't see it happen, but came along after the police and the ambulance had arrived and a small crowd had gathered.

The general consensus of the crowd: "Oh, that poor driver!"

The sun was probably in his eyes! It's so hard to drive on Humphrey Street, what with all the people walking around! The nerve of those pedestrians!

"They just walk right out into the crosswalk," one woman squawked.

"Well, you are supposed to stop when people are trying to cross in the crosswalk," the guy next to her said, though he didn't sound like he was really 100% behind that concept.

The woman waved her hand dismissively. "Pedestrians can say they have the right of way all the way to the hospital."

We crossed the street--carefully. As we crossed I heard a police officer and an older man talking.

"You know, this time of day the sun is really strong. It was probably shining right in his eyes. Anyway, it's hard to see people in the crosswalks down here. And they just don't watch where they're going when they cross the street."

That was the POLICE OFFICER talking.

I couldn't stand it any more--I HAD to say something.

"You know, the sun might have been in his eyes, but it doesn't mean he doesn't have to be careful," I said. "I walk down here all the time and you can take a step into. the. crosswalk. And they still don't stop. They just stare right at you as they drive by."

And you know what the cop says to me?

"Well, it's not just a problem here, you know."

Oh, well, then I guess it really wasn't the driver's fault!* The sun was in his eyes, he couldn't be bothered to put on a pair of sunglasses, flip down his visor, and slow the hell down! The pedestrian had the balls to actually cross in the crosswalk and assume that he would not be run over! And, hell, accidents like that happen everywhere! We can't be expected to do anything about them here!

According to the police log, the man was transported by ambulance to the hospital with a leg injury. As far as I could tell from the brief item in the log, there were no arrests made--no tickets issued.

But don't worry, I'm sure they'll catch up with and punish that rotten pedestrian as soon as he's out of the hospital.