Monday, July 31, 2006

snopping

Snopping = shopping + snobbiness.

Anyone who has ever been into an upscale mall is familiar with the concept of snopping. It's the idea that not everyone is good enough to enter the hallowed halls of say, Bebe, and that those who work in the shop, let's call them The Chosen, have the right, even duty to remind lowly shoppers that they are ugly, fat, and probably poor.

The other day, I was cruising around the San Francisco Shopping Center (Centre?), a multistory mall that includes a healthy mix of mid-level snoppery (Club Monaco) and shameless ho-clothes-stores (Wet Seal). I was in search of a nice summer dress, since I don't have one, and I went into BCBG Max Azria. I love BCBG dresses -- I have bought quite a few in the past and they have never let me down -- but I am aware of the semi-snoppy vibe of the place. For example, they generally only display sizes 2, 4, and 6 on the racks and keep the rest in the back, which is just silly.

So anyway, I was walking around, looking at pretty dresses on the racks, minding my own business, when a skinny woman with a scarf tied around her neck approached me. She was clearly a manager, since I had seen her training two girls when I first walked in. She smiled sappily at me and said, "If you're having trouble finding your size, we have additional sizes in the back."

"Oh," I said, shocked. "Uh, thanks."

It took me a few seconds to process that this lady was snarkily implying that I was a bigger gal who needed LARGER than a size 6 -- the IDEA! Actually, I wear a 4, and I don't know what crack this lady was smoking by suggesting otherwise, but here's the thing. Even if I was a size 8 and had somehow managed to be crane-lifted out of my house that morning and wedged through the doors to BCBG by my nurse, I could probably ask a sales associate for my size (assuming that BCBG carries such ridiculously outsized items). Ya know? It was so obvious that this bitchy lady just wanted to remind me that I was not skinny by Max Azria's standards, and she needed other people to hear it.

But, screw her, because I ended up buying a dress for 50% off, size SMALL. Eat your heart out, snop.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

NO viva italia

I probably shouldn't take this out on the whole country of Italy, but I am tempted to rescind my previous "viva Italia" post because of something that happened to me on Monday morning. Okay okay, I guess my support of Italy still stands, because I know a lot of great Italians, and there are bad apples in every bushel or whatever, but jeez.

I should have known trouble was coming when an Irish guy who was checking out of the hostel on Monday morning told me that there was an Italian dude in his room who had come in the past two mornings at 3 AM, turned on all the lights, blasted music, ate chips, and then told everyone else in the room that if they wanted sleep, they should "go to a hotel." Then, I should have seen it coming even more when everyone in the hostel checked out at the normal time (10 am) except for ONE person, an Italian guy.

An hour after checkout time, the Italian cruised down to reception, reeking of booze, and tossed his key on the desk in front of me. "I want-a to check-a out," he said. I said, quite politely, "Okay, you're a little late so we're going to have to keep your security deposit." (That's the rule if you check out an hour late). That's when he flew off the handle and started screaming at me and leaning across the desk, which made me think he was going to slap me. Help-a!

Within the next two minutes, this angry Italian screamed at me to shut up ("SHUT-a UP-a!!"), accused the "Messican girl" (the housecleaner) of throwing away his "lens contact" and said we owed him $30, mocked my voice, and paced back and forth angrily in front of the desk, as if he was debating whether to jump over the divider. I started shaking and got my manager. Of course, the guy started screaming at my manager, but still directed his wrath mostly in my direction.

Eventually, we gave him back his deposit just to make him go away, although if it had been my decision, we would have called the police, or at least fake called the police to freak him out, and kept his $10 deposit. What a dick. But, to my credit, I maintained my cool and said, "There's no need for you to speak to me so rudely," when I could have said, "go f***-a yourself-a." I resisted.

After he left, I was all shaken up and my voice was quavering when I helped other guests for about 20 minutes, but I got over it. It's an odd experience being screamed at by a complete (presumably non-insane) stranger. Like, the other day when I was walking to work and a crazy man called me a bitch as I walked by, I just rolled my eyes and kept walking, because the dude's clearly nuts (plus he called the girl after me a bitch, too, so it wasn't just me). But when someone (outside of your family) who doesn't appear to have lost their marbles yells at you and makes fun of you, it's severely off-putting.

Later, the Irish guy who had complained about the Italian to me came back into the hostel to pick up his luggage, and I told him what had happened. "Yeah, I'm not surprised," he said. "Don't worry, one of these days he's going to get the s*** kicked out of him." Comforting.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Cha Cha Cha



I met up with the ladies (and later some gentlemen) last night for dinner at Cha Cha Cha in the Haight. I got there a bit early and stood outside to wait for the others and watched the freaks go by. The Haight is funny because there is a unique mix of the genuinely crazy/drug addled, and the bored rich who have carefully and painstakingly made themselves look crazy. I watched a lot of cultivated freaks go by, including a skinny white guy with greasy hair who asked me, "Cash for my trash?" I don't even know what that means, and no. No cash for your trash.

When my friends showed up at 7:45, we put our names on the list for dinner, and were told that it would be an hour and a half wait for a table. We did the only logical thing, which was to take our empty stomachs to the bar and order a large pitcher of sangria. To me, by the way, the best part of sangria is plucking out the fruit and eating it, because each little orange slice or grape is absolutely saturated with alcohol. Alcoholic fruit, mmmm.

We all started to get dizzy after about half an hour of drinking and not eating, so we munched on some chips and salsa and regained our bearings a little, then continued our Sangria drinking. Finally, at 9:30, just as we finished our pitcher of Sangria, we were seated. We promptly ordered a feast of dinner tapas: pork quesadilla, chicken quesadilla, rice and beans, warm spinach salad with bacon and mushrooms (heaven on a June day), jerk chicken, Cajun shrimp and a bottle of Sauvignon blanc. Cool wine and spicy food.

Afterwards, we headed to a bar and drank some more, but I realized before midnight that I should probably stop sucking down the booze and go home and sleep. That ended up being a good option. I'm at work right now down the Peninsula, where it is stunningly hot and sunny, and I am playing on my brand new computer. It is fabulous. In fact, this whole post was just an excuse to use my computer and post my pictures from last night. Ha!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Snow Patrol

DO go and buy Snow Patrol's CD "Eyes Open." Soooo worth it. The last CD I bought before this was Jotaquest, in Brazil, and before that, Funk Brasil, also in Brazil (shocker), but before that, I can't even remember, because buying CDs is so 1998. However, I had three $5 Borders gift certificates -- rewards from selling lots of tours and airport shuttles at work -- so I decided to put my $15 to good use and buy some music, since my itunes hasn't functioned for over a year. Also, $15 only gets you about 3/4 of a book nowadays, so I wasn't gonna waste it on that.

Anyway I bought the Snow Patrol CD because I really like that song "Chasing Cars" that I have been hearing on the radio -- enough to put it on my myspace profile, which is serious business -- and I figured their other songs had to be somewhat decent, too. I was right. The CD is great. I listened to the whole thing on repeat for my six hour shift yesterday, and someone in the lobby even came up and asked me what band it was and said how cool it was. Yeayah.

Right now I am listening to my ipod, Scissor Sisters, "Get It Get It." Listening to this song makes me sort of wish I were a fabulous skinny gay man in leather pants. You know how that goes.

Yo Ho

Alert: don't go see Pirates of the Caribbean II, it's long and boring.

Just wanted to let you know.

Monday, July 17, 2006

I felt the earth shake under my feet... honestly.

Yet another occasion in my life causing me to seriously question my own sanity has arisen. Here's what happened. Last night, I went to bed around 11 pm, completely conked out, and then was woken up again by the room shaking. In my confusion, I failed to look at my clock to see exactly what time it was, but I deduced that I was in fact in the middle of an earthquake. A small one, but an earthquake nonetheless.

Here's why I am convinced that it was an earthquake and not a vivid hallucination: the glass of water on my desk was trembling Jurassic Park-style, the walls were shivering, and the floor seemed to be vibrating. So it was either an earthquake or my hangover from Saturday night was worse than I gave it credit for.

Although, to be fair, I have been known to hallucinate during the night and see things that are not actually there -- bugs, people, animals, etc. -- but I am pretty sure this was real. I went on this website today to check: http://quake.wr.usgs.gov/recenteqs/Maps/SF_Bay.html
and it turns out there were 2 earthquakes with a magnitude of at least 2 in the last 24 hours. One originated near San Jose but it was at 9 pm, so that is probably not the one I felt since it was probably around midnight when I woke up. The other quake was up north in Cobb, California (where my aunt and uncle have a cabin, "Bourne on the Cobb") and it was at midnight. However, it seems unlikely that a girl in San Francisco who never feels earthquakes when they happen would feel a 2.0 quake that originated 2 hours north of the city.

So this is a puzzler. Either I felt the aftershocks of the San Jose quake, which was a 2.9, three hours late, or else I felt a little quake that happened really far away. OR, I'm crazy. We can never exclude that possibility completely.

I really hope that an earthquake really happened, not just because it would soothe my worries about being nuts, but also because someone told me today that little earthquakes release seismic pressure or something, which lowers the chances of a "Big One" hitting. Does that sound scientifically sound? Probably not, but I am going to believe it. I don't want to turn into a paranoid freak about the Big One like some people, who will go unnamed (my mother). I look at earthquakes as one of the many joys and excitements of living in northern California.

Just in case, check back with me on this stance after California has detached itself from the continental United States and is floating into the Pacific.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Bonfire

I know that I moan about the soupy weather in the Sunset all the time, but deep down, I do love it. After all, we Sunset dwellers have the beach! And being near the beach means being able to go to bonfires on crisp (read: freezing) San Francisco nights.

Last night, some people from work decided to have a little bonfire on Ocean Beach, right across from the Beach Chalet. I met them there around 9:30, and found a rather pitiful little fire that was threatening to sputter out at any moment. Luckily, a few people from the group had gone to the store to buy ready-start logs, so we had a blazing fire in no time at all. We roasted marshmallows (which turned a kind of creepy, chemical grey from the ready-start smoke), listened to music on someone's cell phone, and tried to avoid catching fire every time the wind switched and blew the fire into our faces.

The beach was dotted with bonfires last night -- I guess everyone had the same idea we did -- and some groups were more rowdy than others. The raging bonfire next to us happened to belong to a loud, happy group of drunken hippies who set off fireworks every now and then. Actually, they weren't so much fireworks as explosives that made a lot of noise and scared the crap out of everyone. Nothing like drunk people, fire, bombs, and wind to make for a fun night on the beach, huh?

After an hour, I was getting cold and was about to go home when a dude in one of those goofy Bolivian knit caps ran by us yelling frantically, "COPS, COPS! Hide your booze!" It felt very high-school-party, in a bad way. Some kids in my group had a case of Tecate beer, so we covered it with a blanket, and then I got up to leave. Sure enough, when I climbed up the dune, there were several cop cars cruising ominously in the parking lot, warning everyone to vacate the lot and go home. That's just like the fuzz, going around crushing good, clean, explosive-laden fun on the beach.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Overheard on the street

As I was leaving Subway today after my traditional lunchtime baby-spinach-'n-chicken salad, I overheard this scruffy dude telling a lady that he had just come from the other subway off Union Square but left because it was too crowded.

"There were lines out the door," he said.

"Yeah, that Subway is always crazy. This one is better," she said, gesturing toward the door.

"I couldn't believe the lines. I was like, 'is this a Subway in Coo-ba,' or what?"

Hearing the Subway-in-Cooba line made me laugh internally. If ONLY they had Subway in Cuba! My life would have been a hell of a lot easier AND tastier. The lack of Subway in Cuba is in fact one of the most poignant examples of how the embargo makes ordinary people suffer. We all deserve to eat fresh.

Think about it... I didn't.

I saw Strangers with Candy last night at the Bridge Theatre -- yes, that's Theatre with an "re." It was a big cousin date -- I went with Emily, Rory, Peter (long lost cousin), and some drunk chick (NOT related to me) who was with Rory.

Strangers with Candy, for those ignorant f***s among us who may not know, is a movie based on the Comedy Central series of the same name that ran in the '90s. I used to watch it back when I was just a lass, but I didn't get a lot of the jokes because a lot of them hinged on prostitution/drugs/other naughtiness.

Each episode in the series was supposed to be a spoof of an after-school special -- you know, those rigidly formulaic TV shows wherein a bumbling teenager learns a valuable lesson (Don't Smoke, Cocaine is Not That Cool, Don't Run on the Pool Deck, etc.) -- except that the main character in SWC, Jerri Blank, never learns the intended lesson, and usually takes home the wrong lesson altogether.

The movie was sort of an extended episode involving a school science fair, Jerri's evil stepbrother (captain of the JV squat-thrusting squad at Flat Point high), an Indonesian kid, and Jerri's quest to wake her father from a 32-year coma by making the honor roll. It was good.

Another good thing about the movie was that it was really short (97 minutes) and it ended with Jerri addressing the audience with this line: "the point is, you're racist. Think about it... I didn't!"

Friday, July 07, 2006

Excruciating

Fact: there is nothing more uncomfortable than bad comedy in a small room. Even with beer. Unlike awkward sexual encounters, alcohol does nothing to nullify the horrible, squelching discomfort of a hugely unfunny person telling sex jokes to a room full of people who aren't laughing. I learned this first-hand when G and I went to an open mike comedy night at Brainwash Cafe last night.

Let me set the scene a little bit. Brainwash is a cafe/laundromat/bar that also happens to host an open mike every Thursday. It's a great concept for a bar, in my opinion: it takes the normally tedious task of doing one's laundry and throws in a bunch of fun stuff: drinks, food and laughs!
When we were there, the bar was about half full of people who came for the comedy (and $1 Pabst), and half full of people who actually came to get their clothes clean. The crowd was mainly San Francisco hipsters, gay guys with tattoos, pseudo-homeless men (more on this in a moment), me, and Gary.

It won't do to try and summarize each of the comics, because there were a lot of them, and they were all miserable. I guess there were two notable exceptions. One guy with glasses made Gary and I laugh a lot, but we were the only ones laughing... and then another guy with dreadlocks made everyone laugh. Other than those two, everyone sucked.

Before I get into the specifics of the suckiness, I have to put in a disclaimer. I really do give stand-up comics a lot of credit. It takes guts to get up in front of a room of potential hecklers/stalkers and face brutal, instant rejection for several long minutes. I mean, if people don't laugh at your joke about dating your grandma or whatever, everyone in the room knows it, and that is, in my opinion, rejection in its purest form. Plus, my friend Amanda is a budding stand-up comic and so I have a lot of empathy for comics at open-mikes. But here's the thing: sometimes, if people aren't laughing at your dating-dead-grandma jokes week after week after week, maybe the Universe is trying to send you a message. And that message just might be, "You're not funny."

I think a lot of the people who got up there last night had been ignoring some loud-and-clear messages from the Universe for quite a while. Gary and I started to notice some trends in what people talked about in their routines. Some popular themes:

1. white privilege
2. pussy
3. abortions
4. San Francisco (i.e. "Everyone here is gay!!!")
5. how much it sucks being a clown

Okay, actually, that last one was just one guy. He was hanging out by the bar before he went onstage and we could see his notes, written on a napkin. Most of it was illegible except for the word "pussy" at the bottom. I'm teling you, that really was a popular theme.

So, the bitter clown was bad, but I think the worst guy was the one who got onstage and yelled at the audience the entire time for being stupid and not getting his exquisitely crafted jokes. He ended his set by yelling, "F**k y'all."

And, perhaps the most bizarre part of the night was the creepy, dirt-encrusted old man who came up to me and asked if I was going to finish my noodles. "They're all yours," I said, and handed them over, assuming he was, you know, homeless. I mean, he was dirty, had long hair with a strange, matted, white-boy-dreadlock type tail hanging down his back, and he was eating other people's leftovers (and what if I had the measles?!), so it seemed safe to assume the man was destitute. So you can imagine my surprise when, later, G and I heard someone talking incredibly loudly on a cell phone. We turned around, and the "homeless" guy was screaming into a tiny, silver phone. What?! Since when does a man who can afford to pay monthly roaming fees go around eating other people's picked over noodles?

So that was weird. But at least I got a few cheap laughs out of the night -- and you can NOT beat $1 beer with a stick.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

ITALIA

I was already rooting for Italy in the World Cup, but the $5 tip an Italian man at the hostel just gave me for being "very good" and helping him book some tours just put the icing on the cake. GO ITALY!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Books, F*** yeah!!!

Happy Independence Day, all my American (and America lovin') friends!

What a day to be working at an international backpackers' hostel. On this sunny 4th of July, the hostel is going to throw a big, American-style BBQ chow-fest and then show these foreigners what America is really about by getting them liquored up and giving them sparklers. Let's hope everyone emerges with hair -- AND patriotism -- unsinged.

Last night my family had a little Independence Day weenie roast at my grandparents' house. We all ate a lot of hotdogs, chicken wings, salad, and chips, then Emily and I retired to her apartment to watch American Psycho. Despite the title, it wasn't an overtly patriotic movie, but I must say that Christian Bale does an excellent 1980s, New York yuppie accent.

This was actually my second time watching the film; I had watched the first hour or so with some guys that I lived with freshman year of college. I think those guys all secretly desired to live that decadent, plasticine, coke-filled, Genesis-infused, New York 80's lifestyle, and thus enjoyed the movie much more than I did at the time. But revisiting it last night, I really did enjoy it a lot more. I had remembered it being a lot more gratutiously gory than it actually was. I mean, yeah, the scene where Patrick Bateman drops a chainsaw on the girl running down the stairwell was sort of gross, but it was artfully done.


Another thing: I kind of have this suspicion that Christian Bale might actually be a little bit psycho in real life. He was really convincing. Plus, any man that is willing to drop to 120 pounds to play a role in some dippy indie film that no one saw (The Machinist, see pic) has to have a screw loose. I think if I were an actor, I'd be more of the George Clooney, gain-50-pounds-by-eating-nothing-but-cheesecake-and-ruin-my-health-forever-for-the-sake-of-Syriana type guy. Because unlike females in Hollywood, male actors can become fat slobs for "parts" (Jared Leto, anyone?) and receive no flak, while ladies who put on a few pounds for a role (Renee Z) are applauded (but really ridiculed) for their bravery in being fatties.

Wait, wasn't I talking about Independence Day?.... America, F***K yeah!!!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Eating dirt in Yosemite


It's not a real trip to Yosemite until Stephanie twists her ankle and falls on the ground, thereby injuring AND humiliating herself. Actually, it's not really a trip anywhere until Stephanie falls and (sometimes seriously) hurts herself. Okay, let's be honest: it's not really a normal DAY until Stephanie spastically trips over something, and probably falls.

This time, unlike my last trip to Yosemite, I didn't twist my ankle on a treacherous, rocky hiking trail. No, I waited until we had already gone hiking and were on our way to the parking lot, walking along a flat, paved sidewalk, to totally eat it. I guess I stepped on a rock and my ankle went goofy and down I went! Of course, I popped back up and laughed, as I brushed grit from my wounds and tried to conceal the blood congealing on my hand and knee. It seems like falling and scraping the crap out of my hands and knees is becoming somewhat of a pattern. Sigh.

Besides my embarrassing fall, my camping trip to Yosemite was super fun. Incredible Adventures took 9 of us from the hostel to the park for two days (for free!) to go camping, do a bit of hiking, ride around the park in a van, and drink beer.

We had a nice barbeque on the first night with corn on the cob (a novelty for a French guy in the group, who could not get ENOUGH corn on the cob), grilled squash, scallions, green peppers, salad, chicken wings, tri-tip steaks, veggie burgers, chips and salsa, and bread and cheese. Oh, and lots of beer. At the end of the night, we all collapsed into our tents and slept like logs, especially because it was so lovely and warm out.

Never before on a camping trip have I slept in shorts with NO socks. Girl scout camping trips in Michigan usually involved sleeping in my coat, jeans, three pairs of socks, a turtle fur, and gloves, with my sleeping bag pulled over my head so that I couldn't actually see my breath in front of me. In the mornings we'd usually wake up with frost on our sleeping bags and frozen tears on our faces. Man, Girl scouts was fun.

During the day at Yosemite, we went on a hike to Sentinel Dome, which provided some awesome views of Yosemite Falls, Half Dome (which I hiked on my last trip), and El Capitan. Later, we drove closer to El Capitan and tried to spot rock-climbers hanging from the side. We saw a few, clinging like ants to the sheer face of the peak. Why anyone would intentionally go on a greuling, uphill, rock-climbing expedition where you have to sleep on a little ledge and pee into a bucket for three days is beyond me, but some people are into that sort of thing. Some people also paid money to go see Gigli, so there's really no accounting for human behavior.

On the way back from Yosemite, my ears went all funny from the altitude and now, a full day and a half later, I still can't hear fully out of my right ear. Let's hope permanent hearing loss isn't an additional souvenir -- along with my scraped knee -- from the Yosemite trip. Only time will tell...