29.6.05

the city by the bay

There's really no city like San Francisco, California.

I know, I know. You could say something like this about every city, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a city that doesn't have its quirks and specialties. To other cities' credit, they have their cool parts. But I've been to a lot of cities in my short time here on Earth and, so far, San Francisco is my favorite.

why I like San Francisco, California:

-Physical geography:
You've got the pristine and mysterious Pacific Ocean lapping to the left, making its way inland through the San Francisco Bay. As the water sprawls its way in, it surrounds the little islands (Alcatraz, Treasure, Yerba Buena) and fills any space bounded by Napa to the north, Berkeley and Oakland to the east, and Silicon Valley to the south. Its omnipotent aquidity gives you a floating feeling that whispers "life is what you want it to be." (Or maybe that's the voice in my head?)
You also have ginormous hills (in the east we call them 'mountains') of lush, moist rainforest green rising up past fog's reach and dipping right back down to the water's edge, rendering the landscape just as fluid as the seascape, and life equally as such.
Throw in sunshiney spreads, crisp glacial lakes, ripe vinifal valleys, rock-and-shrub mountains and arid mission towns--all within a short drive per cardinal direction--and your life is at your fingertips. Right now.

-Urban geography:
Every city has its "sections," usually based on ethnicity, but San Francisco throws ideals and lifestyles into the residential mix. In the Mission you'll find every Latin and Central American country represented via restaurants, cantinas, clubs and sidewalk markets and shops. And I truly mean "represented" to include the indigenous and beautifully-haphazard way these places are set up. (At Sonia's, for example, you'll find Sonia slowly cooking at a small kitchen with a play pen set up for her granddaughter and a box of tortillas on the floor next to the cash counter.) Set against a backdrop of Latin pop, bustling merchants, and smells food. You'll also find the gringos (non-Latin; artists, entrepreneurs, normal people) who've assimilated into this lifestyle living above all La Hubbub in tiny studios or 1BRs.
Other nabes:
Chinatown, Japantown, North Beach (vaudevillian/carnivalian/adult-night clubs/literary), The Castro (gay), and more. I'm not an expert in the least sense of the word, but this is what I've consumed as a short-time resident, and I love it. There's a place for everyone, even if you're normal.
But there's a constant throughout the urbus major--a sense of commonality--whether it's physical (in the ubiquitous pastel Victorians and square, Spanish-Scandinavian blockhouses), political (in the commitment to common-sense socioeconomic policies), mental (in that everyone has to deal with the bums), or simply visual (it's hard to find a place where you can't see the red spires of the Golden Gate Bridge).

-Human geography:
The people make San Francisco San Francisco.
Put simply:
In one block I saw a group of Latinos making cat calls; a fat, barefoot black lady wearing daisy dukes and screaming across the busy street at a wasted bum peeing himself; some 'bohemes' grabbing falafel sandwiches on the go; a lesbian couple holding hands; an Asian street merchant selling some shit; me in the reflection of the window of 826 Valencia; and a huge man in a pink fairy costume riding a bike.


My trip was fast and furious (Friday-Monday)--the details of which are not the focus of this particular post--but it was a much-needed break from the rigid, uptightity of DC. As a short contrast, we have one area, AdamsMorgan/Dupont, that is supposed to be cultural and thornily bohemian but it lasts all of a few blocks and can be considered pretty much unaffordable (at least on a receptionist's, er, office manager's budget. I share a 1BR). It's been whitewashed, gentrified and slowly homogenized.
I guess that's invetible, though.


Except in San Francisco, California.

20.6.05

when I grow up

24. food critic
23. actress
22. mountain climber
21. curator, Metropolitan Museum of Art
20. skyscraper window washer
19. professional surfer
18. astronaut
17. paper archivist, National Archives
16. tie: brewmaster or European
15. travel writer
14. oceanic biologist
13. UN Secretary General
12. sommelier
11. Olympic triathlete
10. classical guitarist
9. princess
8. tie: zoologist-serengeti large mammal division or DJ
7. chef
6. etymologist-lexicographer
5. beekeeper
4. Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court
3. orchestra conductor
2. teacher or journalist/correspondent (same to me)
1. linguist spy

do you think this is important?

Last Thursday, a subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives voted to cut federal funding for public broadcasting by 45%. The proposed cuts eliminate funding for the Ready to Learn program, which supports educational, commercial-free children’s programming on public television. In addition, it acted to eliminate within two years all federal money for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting starting with a 25% reduction in CPB's budget for next year, from $400 million to $300 million. This week, the House is expected to vote on the budget which includes these cuts.

This raises a lot of questions, the most important of which is simply whether having publically-funded, non-commercial media is worth paying for.
What do you think?
Whichever 'side' you're on, I urge you to make a quick call to your congressperson's office and let him or her know what you think.

Dear Rep. Platts (PA-19):
I am writing to express my concern over the recent House Appropriation Committee decision to cut funding for public broadcasting.
On the national level, I am sure that you have already heard the arguments for and/or against this decision. But I write to you as a long-time citizen of Central PA.
As you are well aware, the Central PA region is a beautiful mixture of rural, town and small-city life, rife with rich American history and a burgeoning future of small-business as well as national commerce. From town to town and village to village, we are all connected by our regional similarities; though it might be a 15 minute drive, each one of us has a stake in the "next town over."

As you are also aware, the National Public Radio affiliate, WITF-FM (and PBS WITF-TV), works very hard to keep the community connected by covering Central PA news and goings-on. From its educational "Explore PA History" program to the only non-commercial classical music in the area, to its daily news coverage, I believe that WITF is an indispensable independent source of news and information for the area I've lived in and which you represent.
I believe, Mr. Platts, that one of the best things you could do for me as my congressman, is to say 'no' to this decision when it gets to the House floor.

In doing so, you will actually be saying 'yes' to an investment in the Central PA community. You would be saying
"Yes, in the face of big media mergers, low-quality news coverage from the networks, and A.D.D.-inducing commercial programming, the CentPA community deserves a balance. They deserve an alternative. They deserve a station which covers what's happening in my electoral district with deliberation and a commitment to my constituents' well-being, and the general public good. Sure, it costs money, but that cost is a pittance when compared to other projects and appropriations I consider here in Washington. And the return--the opportunity for my fellow CentPA citizens to have a sound source of news, information, and other educational programming--is priceless."
Please say yes to me and my fellow CPA'ers by saying NO to cutting funding for public broadcasting.
Thanks,

Emilie Cole
p.s. I think ponies are cute and my T-ball team just won our league champonchips.

18.6.05

i'll just admit it right now: i don't have any major things figured out yet

[Back in Carlisle for the weekend...having a good time chillin' with friends and dad (a lot of people are back in town). Today we drove around in the country, went canoeing did a small hike, bbq, beer/deck, etc. It's such a pastoral place--lush and untouched.]

Today I was giving a lot of thought to my peers and friends who seem to think they know what they're doing with themselves/their lives.
I just don't understand how you have all of the major questions answered already. Perhaps I'm far behind, or maybe it's that they are getting ahead of themselves?
People are getting married (and divorced), some know their calling and others have done complete 180's in just the past six months alone. Either going from being attached at the hip to a complete player, or the opposite: declaration of no desire to settle down/fear of commitment/mover&shaker type to all of a sudden settling down/committing/docility (not in a negative way).
It's not bad, just interesting to observe.
I know that, at a certain point, the "writing's on the wall." It's hard to ignore reality/fate slapping you directly in the face.
But sometimes I wonder how much of that we make up, or which "signs" we construct just to feel some sort of stability for once. Or which conclusions are hasty. Or maybe we're sick of the old ways, so "this will do" "because it's not bad" and "mostly good."
Or how much we are turning into our parents and the older generations we sometimes chided for thinking that everything that happens is somehow "proof" of what we believe; everything we come across is somehow evidence that we've made the right decision or that our opinions are the right ones. (Like Belly said, "Feed the tree").
I would just hate for us to be wearing the blinders already at such young ages.

17.6.05

i saw modest mouse last night and it was very disappointing.

15.6.05

misc. wednesday

-Fake Sport.
A few Saturdays ago I went over to Brad's to hang out and we were flipping through the channels and came across the NCAA women's softball tournament.
For some reason I felt like watching for a bit; I think it has to do with my new fascination with baseball.

OK, so, how do I say this without being offensive??
Hmmm.
Well, OK:
I think softball is a huge insult to women.
I mean, who was like "OK, girls. You can play baseball, but there's a catch....
You have to play with this." (Hands over humongous ball)
I mean, have you seen our hands?? Way to set us up for success there fellas.
(Even more insulting is that it's BRIGHT YELLOW...as if we might have trouble seeing the goddamn thing in the first place).
Additionally, I couldn't help bursting out laughing everytime, well, I looked at the screen.
From the ridiculous manner in which pitches are thrown (all of this violent pumping of the arms like some vaudevillian madman and superfluous swaying back and forth...just to throw it
u n d e r h a n d), to nothing really happening (I think I saw one hit by Cal off the UA 'pitcher'), to a bunch of valley girls with big ol' helmets blocking their vision, I couldn't help thinking
"What is this silly sport and how did we get lured into playing baseball dress-up?"
I understand that softball is a fun and leisurely recreational activity; it can help foster amicable relations between co-workers and provides many companies with a way to boost employee morale. Also, it's a great end-of-picnic transition to the inevitable all-out drink fest which follows.
But I really think women/girls should be playing real baseball like the rest of their male counterparts.

-Real Sport.
Now that I think about it, I think that Ultimate Frisbee should be an Olympic sport.

-Perceptions.
Last Friday at happy hour I had the pleasant surprise of running into an old friend from Syracuse/ROTC. We talked pretty much the whole evening about where everyone, including ourselves, were in life, etc. (For the record, I consider myself post post-college; I've just made it out of the abyss and I'm desperately trying to lift myself out onto the ledge. I guess we'll see if I have the upper-body strength).
Of course after a few drinks the conversation opened up and, during one point, he said "Wow, Em. Didn't know you were such a romantic!"

Usually a statement like that is more of a rhetorical device people use (like "Wow, ____. Didn't know you were such an asshole/Jessica Simpson fan/race car driver!)
However, I sensed that he really was telling me that he didn't know this fact about me, so I followed up.
"Really?" I asked
"Yeah!" He said. "I just had no idea..."
This led me to confess my own perception of him during college and sparked a great conversation about how we thought each other was and then how we 'really' are.
What I mostly took away from it was that perceptions are nifty creations.
Also, that I think some guys don't consider me romantic because I can be sarcastic and silly and that intimidates them.

Oh, and that I should really slow down on the half-priced drinks.

-Reality.
I have a hard time accepting certain things because I just don't see why they have to be that way.

-Forced Pride.
DC Capital Pride Fest ended this past weekend.
I really don't know what to think about "pride" anymore. In college I was all about it. Back then I considered myself a 'straight ally' (in fact, my real pride in college was an overall iconoclastic lifestyle) fighting for marriage rights, adoption, equality, etc. Also, I may have had ambiguous feelings for other females at one point or another and participating in the SU Pride Union certainly let me feel like that was OK.
The college 'pride' scene is so different when compared to the one after college. I think people get to college and obviously feel much freer; they are just so grateful to be able to get together with people they never had the chance to before (this obviously goes for all college groups/clubs). The cause is sincere and, for the most part, unified.

Now, however, I really don't feel there's a such thing as a 'gay community' out here in the Real World (this could very well just be DC). The gay guys have their own agenda/sub-groups/lifestyles; so do the lesbians; and the two are quite different.
Not that that's a huge surprise or anything, but for example, I recently went to a gay bookstore (I like all bookstores, OK?) and I was browsing the gay-guy books and they were all filled with either pictures, illustrations, erotica etc. I then looked through the female material and all of it was words, theories, dissertations-blah blah blah. Any erotica was in short-story form and involved (what I consider) nasty images of leather, and, well, let's just say "blech." Overall, just so typical. Not that I was really looking for anything in particular (that whole thing is definitely not my bag). But it was interesting to observe the blatant differences.

So Capital Pride struck me as almost a farce. The parade was none-too-exciting. The only 'exciting' part was when the old-school leather men drove by...half naked in their S&M garb (including those funny little policeman hats and combat boots), dancing to mid-'90s house music, etc--then again, they're always an amusing sight. However, they didn't make me want to clap/cheer out of 'pride.' Neither did 'dykes on bikes.' (Yeah. Not so much.)
The street festival was equally as silly; booths set up by a smorgasbord of non-profits who seem to want my money just so they can set up a booth next year; the same old food vendors who show up to any street festival selling teriyaki chicken and gyros; a stage with some temporarily-amusing dancing gay cowboys and then boring lesbians performing "All That Jazz."
(I eventually left the street fest for the National Gallery of Art's Toulouse-Lautrec & Montmartre exhibit--great stuff!!)
I feel like this bullet point just got really cynical about gay pride. Maybe it did; whatevs. The 'movement' just seems kinda lame to me.

-Natural Pride.
Yesterday was my first day of training at the Capitol City Brewing Co., "DC's first brewery since Prohibition." It was a good time--we got to sample all of the food and beers (!).
There was a (jappy) girl in my group who, after sipping the hoppy and dry Amber Waves Ale, spit it out and proclaimed "Pyuck! Why is that so bitter??"
I also had to help her fill out her W-4 because she didn't know what an 'exemption' was.
Now even though I'm a glorified receptionist picking up a second job, for a moment I felt good about myself for being able to appreciate a good brew and knowing how to fill out my tax forms.

10.6.05

a first

I have never said something like this before, but
Crash is the best movie I have ever seen in my entire life

9.6.05

Q: que hora en mi corazón?

-Manu Chao

A: "It's five o'clock somewhere"
-Alan Jackson

As many of you know, I'm in a relationship that just so happened to pass the two-year mark. On one hand, whoop-dee-fucking-do (as my mom would so aptly state. I think she's a nihilist). But on another, I've been thinking more and more about what it is that I need (or atleast 'think' I need) in a relationship and, thus, from another person.
In the haze that is figuring out onesself (especially when you're a gemini, which I am, because you'll come to a conclusion one day and a different one the next), I think I have a somewhat clear idea of what kinds of things will win my heart for eternity, if that's at all possible:

-The Ability To Pick Up After Onesself:
For the record, this does not mean "be a neat freak or possess other OCD-like qualities." However, I think it boils down to something to do with self respect. Again, my geminitic impulses want to hit backspace through that whole previous sentence because I quickly question whether I have the right to define properties of self respect (self respect for someone else could mean rejecting this fuddy-duddy notion).
But, for me, I have pretty much concluded that Picking Up After Onesself entails an awareness of one's surroundings, one's impact on them, and one's impact on others in said surroundings. It's also something I was brought up to do. Simply put, things have places and we should put them there.

-The Ability To Listen To Me, And, Furthermore, Understand My Point Of View:
For some reason, I've been blessed (cursed?) with the ability to comprehend what anyone says, ever. Except when what the person is saying is based on the ridiculous notion that I don't understand what they are saying. Get it?
Perhaps it's because I'm the oldest child and therefore I had to communicate with both my parents and my younger brother. Or maybe my parents raised me a bit too adult-ish, choosing to reason with me rather than order me around. Or perhaps it's that gemini thing again; I just have so many personalities that I have to understand ones not pertaining to myself. Crazy!
I dunno. But it's the way I am and I really like it when others can be the same way. Thankfully, I think all of my friends happen to be this way.

-The Ability To Be Up For Anything, Anytime, Anywhere:
I am a self-proclaimed triple-A kind of gal.
Wanna get a bite to eat at The Diner? OK!
How about going running? Sounds like fun!
Naked? Even better!
How does playing hide and seek at midnight sound? Like fun!
or
Wanna just sit here doing nothing? Cool!

-The Ability To Hang Out With My Friends When I'm Not There
self-explanatory

-The Ability (And Desire) To Complete A Power-Hour:
In fact, what would seal it is if one endured the labor pains that entail making a Power Hour mix tape. That would show me that
A) one enjoys a heavy swizzle session now and then
B) one is creative and, for certain events, can be detail-oriented
C) one at least knows 60 fun drinking songs ("fun" is a very open-ended term)

So, there one has it. It's not much and there are probably others. Additionally, some might leave my list of amorous assets if I think too hard about it all.

oh...

-The Ability To Think Too Hard And Also To Not Think Too Hard About Things

6.6.05

mondays

I consider Mondays really important for my health (The other days, well, those are a different story...).
Sometimes, if I'm going to yoga in the evening, I only eat raw foods and only drink water. If I'm not going to yoga (like today), then I simply don't intake anything except water for 24 hours.
I like to do this in order to start my week off right, to give myself a rest from digesting (or whatever you call the weekend's fare) and just to bring my body to a more balanced state. Additionally, I think it's important to go without food for a least a day per month to better understand those who have to on a regular basis. It's not some weird martyr mentality--I know my mini-fast isn't helping anyone else per se--but it's helping me understand 'what it's like,' even if for a mere day, the experience of which will come into play when I make decisions that hopefully and eventually help someone else.
Also, it's a great feeling of accomplishment the next day and it makes me appreciate tastes, flavors and textures so much more, even after such a small time off. I like how I feel and knowing that I just did my body a favor; I gave it a break.















The sucky part is staring at this mother fucking candy dish all day long.

everything

This weekend I was asked what kind of music I liked. This isn't an odd question at all, but for some reason my answer seems odd to almost all of my inquisitors: everything.

Do I really have to "prove" that this reply is legitimate by rattling off some indie bands or talk about the production circle between Dan 'the Automater' Nakamura, Prince Paul and everyone in between?
Or note how ironically tortured Beethoven was when he composed his joyful Symphony No. 9?
Or explain the juxtaposition of traditional slave song and Celtic folk that is bluegrass music?
I don't feel like I should have to, but too many times have I either encountered a surprised face or a skeptical one.
Does this make me spineless? Unable to form my own opinions about music? Does it even matter if you think I'm an big fat liar for liking everything?

No,
no
and no,
respectively.

1.6.05

misc. wednesday

-As highly unlikely it is that I ever become a famous government leak, if so, I'd really appreciate a cool nickname. "Deep Throat" is not such a nickname.

-Alison Krauss could very well be the first bluegrass artist on crack.

-Apparently The Iliad isn't the most exciting book ever written. Either that, or I'm just not that committed.

-I really don't think there's anything wrong with having a mimosa during breakfast.
Even on weekdays.
At 7 am.
I mean, right?

-In 23 days, Li'l Kim will face sentencing regarding a guilty charge in a 2001 shootout.
I'm not sure what I'll do if she's put in the slammer. I mean, have you heard "Not Tonight"?? Not only an outrage, this might be one of the biggest tragedies of the 21st Century.

-What the hell ever happened to Sarah McLachlan?

-I actually don't care what the answer is.

-In practical terms, nothing really matters. When speaking impractically, everything does.

-Let it be knownst throughout the land that, yes, you can look up other people's phone numbers while you are on your cell phone. Got that dad?

-Speaking of my dad, welcome back after 3 years in Bucharest!

-Also, congratulations to my cousin Katie who yesterday became engaged!

-A whole round of younger high school friends recently graduated college. To them, I say:
"Just follow your dreams. Even if they lead you to a shitty shitty place, in reality it can't be shitty because your dreams led you there."

-I'm not one of those people who was obsessed with Bob Edwards. But I have to admit that after a year of Steve Inskeep & Renee Montagne, I wish NPR had used better decision-making skills.
Please don't tell NPR I said that.

-Two numbers total 96 when added together. One is three times as large as the other. What are the numbers?

-Let's just say that the "readership poll" didn't really turn out the way I thought.
Oh, 'the way I thought' was that more than 7 people read my blog.
So, thanks liz, spoon, molly, allie, eric, kelly and ren. You guys are the best. Sniff sniff.

-I'm over that now.

-I used to have a weird thing for knowing about all the different Gore-Tex parkas on the market. I don't have that thing anymore.