tales from the city

Our last-minute “where should we go today?” game late yesterday morning ended up sending us to San Francisco.  We hadn’t been to the city since we moved here and were happy to find it was an easy two-hour drive. Every other trip to San Francisco has taken a lot of planning, an airplane and hotel reservations, so it’s still kind of hard to believe we can be standing in our kitchen at 11:30AM talking about what to do that day, and be elbowing hipsters out of the way at City Lights within a couple of hours.

self-driving car in San Jose
I assumed this was a Google street view car, then noticed the spinning contraption on top (like something a kid would dream up – it didn’t look very high-tech) (though obviously it is) – this was our first glimpse of a self-driving car – it was on 101 right outside San Jose – the guy behind the wheel had two hands on his phone and no eyes on the road, so I think the car was driving
the key to not being stressed out in San Francisco (for me, anyway) is not having to drive and park a stick-shift on an incline – we found a parking garage not far from our destinations and used our feet to get around – there was something energizing about being around so many people and so much action after three months on Amity Island
lovely blue skies with a peek of the moon (the flatiron building houses Francis Ford Coppola’s studio)
this hill is so steep, they had to build steps into the sidewalk
not the best way to see the city – I wonder if they point out the prostitutes and drug deals on these tours?
the last time I was at City Lights, I couldn’t seem to get away from a woman talking on her cellphone about her intestinal issues – this time, it was two precocious children reading from books in that loud monotone that some kids have when they read – at least they know what books are
practice safe disposal
my brother Tohner is featured in Lloyd Kahn’s new book TINY HOMES ON THE MOVE, which is currently for sale at City Lights (more on this story very soon – it deserves its own post)
Jack Kerouac Alley divides City Lights Books from Vesuvio, the place where we whetted our whistles prior to having an early dinner
the view from upstairs
lots of people day drinking yesterday
this is where they send you if you’re bad (or if you’re a man and need to use the restroom)
every time we come here, we get Manhattans – the place just has that kind of vibe
our reflection in a very old mirror featuring a ghostly image of a very different type of couple
our dinner destination – Tommaso’s – consistently the best pizza we’ve ever eaten – James and I broke our 13-month meat fast last night and ordered a pepperoni pizza – totally worth it
Tommaso’s was once Lupo’s, which claims to have had the first wood-fired brick oven pizza on the West Coast
meat fast = broken with greasy, delicious pepperoni
still daylight as we headed home – now we know we can do four hours in the city, plus four hours of driving, and not piss the dogs off too much

gift suggestions for people you don’t like

I started putting together this gift guide to assist you with your Christmas shopping. Specifically for people you are a) mad at or b) don’t much care for. Alas, I neglected to get this out there during the holidays. Let’s remedy that now.

THE WINE RACK – You’re going to a game or concert, and you don’t want to pay $13 for a glass of shitty wine. With the Wine Rack, you can sneak in a bottle of the good stuff…in your rack. According to the product description, “Turn your A cup into double-Ds.” Not sure how you sneak a tube full of red wine out of your shirt and into your mouth without anyone noticing (or hearing the sucking), but that’s for your alcoholic gift recipient to figure out. What I do know is, this shit is classy.

HUTZLER 571 BANANA SLICER – The Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer slices your banana into 18 (sort of) uniform pieces. Because, you know, it’s so difficult and time-consuming to cut a banana. Give this to the person in your life who’s constantly bitching (on Facebook and Twitter) about how busy they are. (Be sure to read a few of the customer reviews. Really. If you only click one link in this post, this is the one.)

HONEY BOO BOO BADGER PINT GLASS – For a diluted version of Honey Boo Boo and Honey Badger, look no further than this non-humorous drinking glass. The recipient will be, uh, maybe slightly amused, only because someone actually designed this thing, took the time to have it printed, put it up for sale, and you spent money on it. Capitalism.

PANTYHOSE FOR MEN – Give this to the guy who thinks anything beyond an overly aggressive handshake is gay. Just hope he doesn’t go all American Beauty on you. (The neighbor thing, not the rose petal thing.)

ILLUSION FAKE NAVEL JEWELRY – Good for irritating the parents of the teenager you give this to. According to the product reviews, one industrious magician used this for (shitty) magic tricks. So there’s that.

BILL CLINTON CORKSCREW – This is pretty much what you’d expect. A 9″ figure of Bill Clinton, and the corkscrew comes out of the front of his pants. Of course. (Unrelated side note: the penis on a male pig is corkscrew-ish.) (You’re welcome.)

WILLIE WOODPICKER TOOTHPICK DISPENSER – Reviews suggest you give this as a hostess gift. Life experience suggests (to me) that the hostess would probably dispense a toothpick and then stab you with it. This is best given as a dump-and-run, where the recipient opens it later, curses you, then throws the whole thing in the trash saying, “I don’t know why we exchange presents with that asshole every year. I’m not doing it next year.” Though of course, you will exchange gifts next year and every year after until one of you finally says uncle. Then the other of you will say, “Well, I thought we were friends.”

Finally, I know that people without children are contractually barred from sending out Christmas cards, but I think next year James and I may buck tradition. The two of us in front of the decorated Christmas tree, the dogs sniffing each other’s asses… That’s holiday magic, my friends. We’ll be sure to include a copy with your toothpick dispenser.

stink eye

I always get my weekly grocery shopping out of the way on Sunday morning, no matter how late my Saturday night might have been. If you don’t go early on Sunday, you end up knee-deep in the throngs of slow shoppers. They chat in front of the produce scales instead of weighing their shit and moving on. They leave their cart in the middle of the aisle to look at something shiny that caught their eye. They stand three across discussing the merits of this salad dressing versus that. It’s maddening for a person who walks fast and writes her grocery list in the order the items appear in the store in order to eliminate unnecessary browsing. Sounds fun, huh? That’s why I go alone.

Because it’s early and I pretty much literally roll out of bed, put on clothes and head to the store, I don’t make much eye contact while I’m shopping. Not looking to get into a conversation with the chipper lady who’s been up since 6 or the crusty old man who can’t find the chutney.

I was nearing the end of my weekly chore this morning when I broke my rule. I was on the main aisle and needed to turn left to get some detergent. There was a guy coming my direction whom I needed to let pass before I could move forward. I glanced up, and he was looking me dead in the eye. Giving me the stink eye. He looked at me like I’d just puked on his grocery basket or called his mama a whore. I’m looking at him, probably with surprise on my face, and he’s staring at me as he continues pushing his shopping cart, having to turn his head as he goes by in order to maintain angry eye contact. This went on for a few seconds, which is fairly intense for this type of interaction.

It was so weird, I sort of wanted to turn around and follow him to see what the deal was. Instead, I kept walking.