Oct 19

Superfun Halloween outing

Halloween is my favorite holiday so when my friend Aki suggested meeting up in Lambertville to check out the decked out houses, I was more than on board.

Homestead Farm Market

Our first stop of course was lunch. I really liked this place, but the staff seemed a bit overwhelmed with the Saturday crowd. Also my Guinness beef pie took forever to heat up (which I wouldn’t have minded if I had been given the heads up), and parts of the inside were still cold. Regardless it was tasty. On our way out, I couldn’t resist a huge double chocolate cookie to save for later.

Unionville Vineyards

A day out with Aki wouldn’t be complete without a visit to a winery. I loved this place. It was very low-key and a lot of fun.

Because Aki’s a member, we were able to have a free tasting of seven wines each. We decided we liked the rose best and got a bottle to share. We sat at a table outside drinking, eating, and chatting.

Antiques Center at the People’s Store

Before checking out the decorated houses, we stopped at this antique shop. Aki had heard they had an exhibition of “vampire hunting kits” and thought I’d be interested. HELL YES. My friend knows me well.

Admittedly, I had no idea there were real-life vampire hunters. I thought it was all fiction. Of course whether or not the vampires they were hunting were real is another story.

We talked with the owner of the collection quite a bit. Besides all the vampire hunting stuff, he told us a creepy story of a kind of “devil’s bust” he used to own. He sold it to two people who promptly gave it back. One didn’t even want a refund. Apparently with the first buyer, they heard disembodied voices and noises. With the other, they saw actual apparitions. He showed us a picture, and I’m sorry to say it looked fake. Or it could have been a person or not. Of course if I had seen it in real life, I would have plotzed.

We also talked about ouija boards. While he has a vast collection of them, he’s also scared of them. I started telling him about that Spanish horror movie, Veronica, and he was like, “I don’t want to hear about it!” The reason we got on the topic is because he had out a gorgeous oujia board which was painted by Aleister Crowley. I had taken a bunch of pictures, but after my conversation with the guy, I was suddenly creeped out by the idea that I had these on my phone. I said, “Maybe I should delete those photos from my phone.” He agreed.

His reasoning is that while the vampire killing stuff have an intention for good (even if possibly innocent people have been killed) and use the power of God, ouija boards are a gateway to demons and stuff. ‘Nuff said.

Halloween houses

Next were all the decorated houses. I took a zillion pictures. Here are some of the highlights. We also randomly got a tour of the INSIDE of someone’s house. The outside was decorated really cool —

— which we commented on to the guys hanging out outside. The next thing we knew, he was inviting us in. They were getting ready for a party, and the guests weren’t do yet so we had a few minutes to see it all gussied up.

Oh you know, just going into some random person’s house on Halloween.

Art gallery and pho

Something Aki and I both like to do is crash art exhibition openings and partake of free booze and snacks. She knew of one in Princeton and so we headed there as one of our last stops.

The art was somewhat interesting, but I didn’t have any wine. I think the combo of the wine with the sugar of the cookie was a bad idea. I had a terrible headache and also got carsick. At the reception I had a bunch of pretzels and crackers, hoping salty carbs would save the day.

In the end they did, in the form of pho.

Aki assured me it would hit the spot, and it really did. I ate the whole thing. The broth was really tasty. The whole thing was tasty. When we got back in the car to walk around downtown before my train, I felt a billion times better. My headache was gone, and I was no longer feeling like I was going to throw up.

As we started to walk around, we both saw across the street a bus going to the city. I still had a half an hour wait for my train, and we both thought, How about that bus? We went up and it turned out 1) it was leaving right that minute, and 2) I could buy a ticket on the bus without a fee. Score! The bus line was the same as the one that goes to my mom’s, which means comfy and roomy seats. Plus, unlike the train, it was dark and quiet. The train on a weekend night is always rowdy and also very bright.

A comfy end to a superfun day.

Aug 19

A day at the beach

This Sunday I took the train all the way down to Long Branch to hang out with my friend Aki and her fiance. It was totally worth it.

An unexpectedly dangerous lighthouse

After picking up some pizza slices, we headed over to this lighthouse, where we sat on a bench and had a sort of picnic. It was hot and there were bugs, but there was also wine, courtesy of Aki, so I didn’t care too much.

Next we looked at some cool lighthouse stuff, then climbed to the top of one of the towers. Aki and I went all the way to the top. There was a little window that was open and what looked like an area you could stand on. Aki went right out, and suddenly I noticed the area had no grate, just wide open railing a body could easily fall through.

I said, “Should you be out there?” Then it started to hit me as to what a dangerous situation that was (luckily she came right back in), and even more so when I went down one level and could see how wide open it was from below. There were also two kids up there with us, and I told them a couple of times, “Please don’t go out there, I beg you.” Their dad was one level below, but not close enough to me. (They were fine and didn’t go out there.)

I told the girl at the desk downstairs, and at first she didn’t really understand what I was saying. She went up to check, and when we were in the tiny museum slash shop, she came in and made a beeline toward the older women behind the desk and told them what happened in a kind of panicked voice. I made eye contact and she said, “They told us about it,” and thanked us (although it was really just me). I knew it didn’t seem right! Aki’s fiance and I kept teasing her afterward about how she immediately did the most dangerous thing.

A park and a hike

After that we headed out to this park. They had what was a bunker for housing weapons, including what was essentially a really huge gun, during World War II. We walked through it, which was pretty creepy. It’s just this long, dark, empty hallway. There was water everywhere — dripping off the ceiling, in puddles on the floor, and I thought, Did they hose this place down? We asked the guy sitting outside and turns out it was all condensation from the humidity.

After that we went on a hike. At first Aki’s fiance and I were against the “black diamond trail” and we just did something easy. However, that was uncovered, i.e., in the sun, and not near the water. We took a shortcut to see some view (there wasn’t much of one), and Aki said that was the black diamond level. It turned out not to be hard at all, vigorous but not difficult. By the end we were all very sweaty. 

A beach and a brewery

After that we tried to find a beach. The first one was small and rocky. It wasn’t that great so we left and went to a much better one. It was free since it was after 4:30 and it wasn’t too crowded. It was nice sitting there drinking wine, snacking, and chatting.

It was pretty cool and breezy, but it was also very, very sticky. I actually felt fine, but after a while her fiance was like, “It’s so sticky.” We had been there long enough anyway and headed to our next destination.

That was a brewery. By then I had had basically one and a half glasses of wine so I just had a three-ounce serving of their stout. It was pretty good. Her fiance got the summer ale (full serving) and a giant bowl of poutine with roast beef. Oh my God so good. I had several bites, which were more than enough for dinner.

Jul 11

The weekend thus far

Yesterday I was very blah for some reason.  Coffee didn’t even do its trick!  I ended up spending most of the day aimlessly surfing the internet, playing Words with Friends, and reading.  The only productive things I did were yoga, reading and commenting on a couple of Nervous Breakdown pieces, finally getting together a free memoir shipment I still owed, as well as a submission to a magazine that accepts previously published works.

Here are a couple more exciting highlights.

More crazy Chinese mom craziness

In the fall I’ll be participating in a couple of readings in conjunction with this anthology I’m in.  Exciting, right? So I shared the news with my mom during our call yesterday. But it wasn’t so easy.

Me: Remember that book I told you about? With my essay about Puo-puo.

Mom: Yes, yes.

[Thank God she remembers] Me: Well, the editor lives in Sonoma.

Mom: I don’t understand.

[Here we go] Me: You know what an editor is? The woman who put together the book. Well, she lives in the San Francisco area.

Mom, hesitatingly: Okay.

Me: Well, she arranged a couple of bookstore readings for those of us who also live in the Bay Area.

Mom: Okay.

Me: You know, a bookstore reading? We go to a bookstore and read from the book.

Mom: Okay.

Me: We go to a bookstore and read ALOUD from the book. To an audience. It’s like a speech, or a presentation. Except we’re just reading.

Mom: Oh! The whole book? That will take a long time.

Me [about to lose it]: No, Mom. We each get five minutes.

Mom: Oh. With a microphone?

Me: Why does that matter!

[At this point, MB comes in the room and wags his finger at me for being impatient with my mom]

Me: Yes, with a microphone.

Feeling bad, I called her back a few minutes later, and it turned out, my mother STILL didn’t get it.

Me: MB says I was too impatient with you.

Mom laughs: I never went to this kind of thing so I don’t know.

Me: I know, I know.

Mom: So you guys won’t go.

Me: Huh? Of course we’re going. I’m IN the reading, Mom! I’M one of the people doing the reading!

Mom: Oh! I thought you said the editor was.

Me: No, she’s just arranging it.

Mom: Oh! [Now she sounds excited.] That’s very good!


Then I get this email from my dad:

Happy to know you’re gonna do a live presentation of your article.

First of all, since when does my father say “gonna”?  Secondly: sigh.

I know, I know, they’re both very cute and sweet, but – SIGH.


Early yesterday evening MB and I decided to take a walk to lower Haight and check out Rosamunde Sausage Grill.  He’s eaten there before and thought I would like it.  And I did.

I got the beer sausage and the chicken habanero, and FUCK were they spicy.  I expected them to be white person-spicy (ie, not), but they were killing me.  My nose was running, and while I tried to be paleo and not eat the bun, I just had to or else die of spiciness. (Plus it was tasty.)

We had a very nice walk too.  It was in the upper 50s, low 60s, and windy in some parts.  It’s crazy that it’s July, and we were wearing jeans and jackets.  Love Bay Area weather!

Today so far I’m feeling much more energetic.  The coffee is working!  My main project is to finish this next section of my novel.  Must do it!  It even takes precedence over working out.

Feb 11

Semi-productive, semi-lazy

I’ve had a somewhat lazy and somewhat productive weekend.

On the productive side, I’ve been working like crazy on a piece I want to submit to a magazine.  Somehow I can’t get it to stop sucking.  I’m not sure if it’s what I’m writing about (too broad? not original enough?) or how I’m writing it (trying to cover too much?).  I just keep trying.

On the lazy side, I haven’t worked out since Thursday.  I could go today, but I’d prefer to keep working on this essay.  And I may do yoga later.

Yesterday we walked to Union Square and enjoyed the sun.  MB played guitar and I edited my memoir.  There didn’t seem to be too many weirdos around.  The one interesting thing was a young woman and an older woman arguing.  I kept wondering what their relationship was.  The older woman wasn’t the mother – maybe an aunt or stepmother?  The younger woman said, “Christine warned me about you.”  They were arguing, but it was as though they had gone out of their way to sit on the grass and hash it out.

When it got too cold, we came back to our apartment, grabbed our computers, and headed over to Japantown and New People Cafe.  Here’s what I love best about New People Cafe:

  • Heated toilet seats
  • They carry rooibus tea
  • Their delectable vegan baked goods

And in that order.

Today, more writing, like I said.  And the yoga thing.

Feb 11

I’m a coldy, bratty hermit

What started as a sore throat, slightly upset stomach, and general ickiness  has finally blossomed into full-blown cold.  While a stuffy, itchy nose full of an unbelievable amount of snot isn’t fun, I’ll take that over congested sinuses any day.

I rarely get sick so when I finally do, I’m a total brat about it.  I was restless the other night, even after taking that blue cold medicine that might as well be vodka, so the TV seemed extra loud.  I marched into the living room, announced, “It’s too loud!” and turned the volume down so low that MB couldn’t hear it at all.  At that point he gave up and turned it off.

Since dealing with our noisy annoying downstairs neighbors, I started wearing ear plugs, which do an awesome job.  Once MB came in to grab his pants and belt to run out for a midnight snack.  He dropped the belt, cried out, “Fuck!” and I still didn’t budge.

But with my stuffy nose, I don’t like wearing the ear plugs.  They make me feel suffocated, and I don’t like hearing my labored, stuffy breathing, like I’m Darth Vader.

Friday night we did manage to go out and have some dumplings for Chinese New Year. After work we met up in the city and walked to the restaurant. It’s too pricey for dim sum but it’s clean, the food is good, and it’s in a convenient location.

I still miss my mom’s dumplings though.

Yesterday I barely left the house. Still feeling sick, I stayed at home while MB went out to meet one of his friends for lunch and play guitar in the park. I managed to almost finish a draft of an essay for a contest that’s due next week, and did some laundry.  MB came home in the late afternoon, we had dinner at Grubstake, our favorite nearby place, then spent the evening working while watching a surprisingly exciting reality-competition show about sharp shooters. We followed that with a couple of episodes of yet another anime. There are so many out there, but so few I actually like.

Not sure what I’m doing today.  Gym?  Highly unlikely.  Kind of do want to hit a cafe, any cafe where there will NO Superbowl activity.

Jul 10

Done with bloodwork!

Finally stopped at the lab and gave the blood needed for the testing my doctor wants to do (cholesterol, triglycerides, etc.).  The lab is walk-in so I was dreading a long-ass wait, during which I’d get hungrier and crankier by the moment.  But I was the first one there and they got me done lickety-split.  The nurse was so great, I barely felt a thing.

“Ready?” she said.  “Onetwothree!”

Some nurses take forever finding a vein, but she was awesome.

Had a very nice super-long weekend.  Monday was a holiday, and I could have worked today but decided the blood work was more pressing.  MB and I mostly worked on our stuff, but I still feel like I have a ton of work to do on this essay.  It doesn’t help when I think it’s about one thing, and as I’m writing, I realize it’s about something else.  Now I’m rewriting the intro and trying to cut the word count way down.

I got in a couple of workouts.  Now that I’m working, I’ve been terrible about going to the gym.  I went on Tuesday, then not again till Sunday (ran two miles, 20 minutes on the elliptical).  I ran four miles yesterday, yay!  Probably won’t do anything today because I gave blood, just in case.

In between working and work outs – and way too many games of Epic Mahjong Solitaire – we took walks: to Union Square, where he played guitar and I tried to write; and out to Haight-Ashbury, where we had crepes and browsed around Amoeba Records.  On our way back, we stopped in Japantown and had shabu shabu, a perfect meal for a chilly, gray day.

I guess it’s quite hot out on the east coast.  Not to rub anyone’s face in it, but I’m so glad not be in that weather right now.  I HATE hot and humid, the worst thing about New York.  Here it’s cloudy, windy, and a bit chilly.  I’m wearing sweat pants, a T-shirt, and another shirt on top of that.  We sleep at night with two blankets.  I LOVE IT.

Now if only some NYC restaurants (Le French Diner! Pala! LES Noodle Bar!) would come out here.  We’ll be glad to send several hobos and crackheads in exchange.

Today, aside from finishing that damned essay, I have to drop off stuff at the cleaners’, return a library book, and possibly get some bedding from Macy’s.

Some bad news I almost forgot: my favorite working cafe, Bittersweet, closed down, at least the one on Fillmore Street.  My SF pal said she heard it was because the landlord wanted to double their rent.  I’m so bummed about it.  I really loved that place.  The drinks were delicious, and the atmosphere so inviting to work in.  I loved the big comfy tables where you could spread all your crap out, the free wifi, and how the barristas didn’t mind if you stayed there all afternoon, nursing a cup of tea.

Apr 10

Vertigo update

I think it’s all gone.

By Wednesday, I was feeling somewhat better.  While I was woozy during the day, I didn’t have any vertigo when I did my anti-vertigo therapy.  Ditto with Thursday.  By Friday I was feeling even more normal, and by yesterday, almost 100%.

It’s such a wonderful feeling not to be constantly dizzy and nauseous (which by the way is really fucking hard to spell), and to be able to sleep on my side without inducing the involuntary merry-go-round.

I should still see the doctor though.  I sent my paperwork to the vertigo clinic last week, but they said I need a referral.  You think they could have put that on their website.  So this week I need to find a primary care doctor.

MB and I spent most of the weekend enjoying the beautiful weather.  On Saturday we walked to the Ferry Building, and yesterday we hung out in Union Square.  The sun was actually too strong for me – my feet in my sandals were burning!  So we sat in the shade.

This week I want to hand in a few articles, one assignment and two blind submissions.  Will also see about jobs.  Still haven’t heard back from the two I applied for.

Now that I’m feeling better, I’m not as anxious about finding a job immediately.  I’m also open to writing gigs and having several freelance assignments going on at once.

Apr 10

Lovely low-key birthday weekend

I was somewhat distracted by my dizziness problem, but still managed to have a nice weekend.

Saturday morning we were surprised by someone at the door.  It was FedEx with a package.

“Probably a birthday present for you,” MB said.

“Doubt it,” I automatically said.  Despite all my trying to teach myself to have no expectations – meaning neither high nor low – and being open to surprises, I still have some learning to do.

It was a gift from my brother: a very nice yoga mat and bag.  Such a nice surprise. I had told him how I just use the mats at the gym and he was all skeeved.

“You mean you put your face where other people put their feet?” he said.

Well, if you put it that way.

And I totally neglected to include my brother on my Grateful 38 list!  I blame the Drammamine.  If I were more alert, he’d have gone right after 8, 9, and 10, the ones about my parents: “I’m grateful my brother has always been my partner against the insanity of our parents.”

MB and I went out to lunch, took a nice long walk, and saw Kick-Ass at the AMC Metreon.  I was under the impression that people simply don’t talk at the movies in SF, but Sitcomgirl is totally right that at the Metreon they do.

Still, it wasn’t as bad as NYC.  People, including us, repeatedly told the noisy girls to STFU, and the woman with the baby (great idea to bring an infant to Kick-Ass) apologized for the baby’s crying.  Plus the movie was so noisy, it didn’t matter that the audience wasn’t quiet.

After the movie, we headed over to Border’s, where MB got me a few books plus a gift card.  Yay, books!  I’m still loving Harry Potter.  I just finished number four and bought number two since the library doesn’t seem to have it.  Kids do not treat these books well, by the way.  Number four was full of ripped pages – like deliberately ripped – and in one section, some idiot had changed the word “pus” to something dirty.  Damned kids.

Yesterday MB made huevos rancheros for breakfast, then we took another walk since it was such a gorgeous day.  It was actually hot when we started out, probably almost 80.  We went to Union Square and hung out for a bit.  Then suddenly it was chilly.

We had dinner at Borobudur, our favorite Indonesian restaurant, where we overheard the best conversation.

An Asian couple was sitting behind us. I had seen them walk in – the woman petite and well-dressed, wearing an enormous hat and sunglasses, and the guy kind of schlubby.

WOMAN: Can you recommend something without peppers?

WAITER: Sure, sure. [Rattles off suggestions]

WOMAN: Do they have black pepper? No black pepper either.

WAITER: Uhhh. . .

WOMAN: No black pepper, and no chili pepper.

WAITER: Okay. Honey beef is good.

MAN: No beef.

WAITER: Okay. [Rattles off other suggestions]

MAN: And no salt. Is it salty?

WAITER: Uh, yeah, it’s kind of salty.

MAN: And no oil. Is it oily?

WAITER: Uhhh – How about this? [Kindly makes another suggestion]

MAN: You think that’s good?

WAITER: Yeah, yeah, good.

WOMAN: Is it spicy?

WAITER: No, not spicy.

WOMAN: Um, okay.

By now MB and I are rolling our eyes and staring at each other like, Are they kidding?

A few minutes later:

WAITER: Sorry, that dish is already marinated in salt.

MAN: It is? [Begins to sound desperate] Um, I don’t know, you decide. I don’t know what to do.

WOMAN: It’s okay.

Now MB starts munching like crazy on our tumis buncis, which if you don’t know is string beans sauteed in a very salt, somewhat spicy fermented shrimp paste. It’s really delicious.

“Mmm!” he said unnecessarily loudly. “This is sooo good!”

MAN: That looks good. It’s probably salty though, right?

WOMAN: Yes, very salty.

MAN: [Sigh]

Hearing that conversation was probably the best birthday present ever.

Apr 10

WonderCon, writing, reading

Time for a weekend update (with your host, the Bad Luck Girl).

We didn’t have a chance to see Clash of the Titans, but we did go to WonderCon.  It wasn’t as fun as I expected since it was so incredibly crowded.  Getting through the aisles was almost impossible sometimes, especially near the “celeb” booths, like Brent Spiner (Data) and John de Lancie (Q) whom I now associate with Breaking Bad.

We also saw Adam Baldwin from Firefly.  He had this embarrassed smile as he sat there in his booth while people went nuts taking pictures.  I heard one middle-aged woman say, “Oh my God, he’s so gorgeous!”

Another highlight was this booth selling a magazine called Girls and Corpses.  Either it’s some fetish or a joke.  Either way, disturbing!  (Now I’m sure I’ll get hate mail from Girls and Corpses lovers.)

There were tons of photo ops but I only managed to get one:

alien and random woman

That’s not me by the way, just some random lady having her pic taken with the alien.

In other news, I heard back from the Graywolf Press contest, and while I didn’t win, my memoir was one of the 15 finalists.  Yay, I don’t totally suck!  I’m also busy this week with a few deadlines.  I love deadlines!

As for my reading, I read the first Harry Potter, which was awesome, and now am reading Memoir of a Geisha for the first time.  It’s good in a trashy way.

Mar 10

External validation

I realize I need it.  I wish I didn’t, but I do.

I had pitched a couple of ideas to magazine, but hadn’t heard anything.  All week I had a vaguely blah feeling, which I attributed to not knowing what I wanted to write about next.  But in the back of my mind, I knew I was feeling rejected.

It’s something I have to get used to, and in a way, I am.  I feel the sting for a few moments, then move on.

Of course it’s easier to move on once you get an acceptance of a new idea.  Yay!

At least it’s incentive to keep thinking of new ideas, to keep trying.  MB had suggested when I follow up to follow up with a new idea or two as well.  So smart!

Yesterday I worked hard on my latest post for the Nervous Breakdown, which is about the 100th episode of Ghost Hunters.  I know I won’t get too many comments – it’s a long essay about a niche topic – but still I want them!  I want lots of comments!  I freely admit it.

In other news, I looked at my NaNoWriMo book from 2006 for the first time.  Some parts aren’t bad, but I’m not sure what to do with it.  Right now I just want to read it, and see if it’s salvageable at all.  *Maybe* I’ll post it to my writing site, and see what you guys think.

The book isn’t about me, at least not overtly, but is about the brutal murder of an older couple, set in the midwest.  The couple’s son, who to everyone seems “off,” is the main suspect, and is basically coerced into confessing.  The novel deals with unraveling the mystery of if he really did it or not, and if not, who the real killer, or killers, might be.

I got the idea when I heard some story on NPR about coerced confessions and implanted memories.  Some poor guy got coerced into confessing to the murder of his parents, and even started to “remember” details because he’d heard them so many times from the police officers.

MB and I spent the weekend working on our projects and hanging out in Union Square.  People watching was fun. One guy kept taking off and putting on his shoes and socks. Some Asian chick fell as she tried to go down the steps in her four-inch stilettos (idiot) so that the people who were photographing her (why, I don’t know – was she a model? paying for headshots?) had to run off and buy her a pair of flats because she couldn’t walk in her heels anymore.

This couple had the most adorable miniature terrier named Stella. How do I know the dog’s name? Because they kept calling it as they tried to photograph the dog. Of course Stella was more interested in stalking pigeons.

There was the cutest little Asian girl in sparkly pink jacket and sparkling pink ballet flats. I would have KILLED for shoes like that at her age!

The highlight though was this group of Kim Kardashian-lookalikes who took pictures with these random gay guys like the guys were just another tourist sight. Look, kids, it’s two gay guys again!

So not motivated to go the gym today. Will probably do an easy workout.