Monday, June 29, 2009

PRIDE: Parade

We headed down into the city early in the morning after a long night. The train was packed to the brim, but everybody was in a festive mood, happy to squeeze a few more people in, unlike morning rush hour.

Three and a half hours is a long parade, especially when it's hot outside. (Where am I?) The parade started off with Dykes on Bikes, just like the Dyke March, followed by Mikes on Bikes and then a variety of floats and groups. Scroll down and you'll even see Cloris Leachman, celebrity grand marshall.

I was delighted by our handsome mayor striding past me amongst a crowd of people wearing Team Newsom t-shirts. I could have reached out and touched him, but I was so surprised to see him right there, not in a car, not at the end of the parade, that I just stared. He is attractive. And liberal.

After the parade we stopped by the festival at the Civic Center, but didn't stay long. We'd had enough partying the night before. (I also probably saw more breasts and penii than I have in my whole life up to this point.)

What a great city we live in!

PRIDE: Pink Saturday/Dyke March

We watched the Dyke March out on the street in front of the house of a couple of Matt's teammates. I could not believe how many people were there. Apparently every year a group of old women sits on the same corner with their "muff mitts" - oven mitts they have decorated to look like, well, you know. You can see them waving the purple mitts on the left side.

This guy cruises up and down market on his bike with his stereo blaring. Apparently also a fan of gays.

After the march we headed into the center of Castro for Pink Saturday, but we just walked through and took shelter outside the team's bar. It pays to know people. I didn't have the camera, and Matt wasn't with me when I was actually in Pink Saturday, so again, you'll have to use your imagination. Humongous disco ball suspended from a crane, multiple stages, naked people, and more people than I've ever seen anywhere, including Block Parties and all other such spectacles. I truly can't believe how many people attended. They sure don't all live in the Castro. Matt and I stumbled home after midnight.

City Walks #40: Twin Peaks

This walk was obviously nothing we hadn't done before, since we practically live on Twin Peaks, but we enjoyed it anyway. And true to the card's word, there was a snack truck on top from which we purchased ice cold beverages to overcome the severe heat in which we'd been hiking with dark shirts and long pants. Who knew?

First, the Pemberton Stairway. Absolutely gorgeous, but the light was not great for pictures.

Then the pink triangle erected for Pride. (Gay men in concentration camps were required to wear pink triangles during the Holocaust, resulting in beatings, torture, and extra-long prison stays.)

Looking down over the city and the festivities.

And a rare picture of Matt:

City Walks #32: Sacramento Street

And on this one we learned where all the rich people shop. (Even richer than all the other fancy, pricey shopping areas I've discussed on these walks.)

Sadly enough, no pictures. Just imagine furniture you could never afford.

City Walks SF #31: Pacific Heights

And now we know where Danielle Steel lives. And all the other rich people in the city (as if anyone who owns a house in this city isn't rich). They have nice views and lovely hydrangeas. However, Matt was very bored with this walk and apparently didn't take any pictures of the mansions. Use your imagination.

You can see the pink triangle on Twin Peaks in this picture. More on that later.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Pride Weekend

It's our very first Pride weekend here in San Francisco. The Castro was already getting packed last night - in fact I have never seen so many lesbians in one place, and there's usually not many at all in the boy's mecca of the Castro. I wonder if people come into town for the weekend.

Today we will be viewing the Dyke March with Matt's softball team at a house along the route. Tomorrow we may figure out where to catch the parade. Should be crazy, I think. There have been barriers waiting to be set up all around Castro, Market, and Church. We may not be able to get anywhere.

So take a minute this weekend to think about how we can work toward everybody in this country having equal rights.

And next year come check out the scene!

Public Open Spaces

I have forgotten to mention that while we were in Ireland, a public open space popped up at the corner of Castro and Market. While the streetcar (or F train, as Matt likes to call it) can pass through, cars no longer can. There are planters and tables and chairs sitting there - and they're not bolted down; I have yet to figure out how they stay there. It is now always full of people.

Thursday when I was waiting for the bus, I watched a group of 30 to 40 bicyclists dismount at the plaza and proceed to dance. When the song ended, they got back on their bikes and followed the stereo down Market. People clapped.

Also Thursday I learned that the Kaiser building next to my office has a public rooftop garden. Sounds like a new lunch spot (not that I ever take lunch...).

Just Watched: The Hangover

It was kind of an accident. Matt had at one point suggested we see it because he had heard it was funny. I wanted to see Away We Go, and not just because I love John Krasinski. And we knew the little theater where we had seen up was also showing both the Hangover and Away We Go, and we knew that one was at 7:10 and one was at 7:20. And we left the Castro at 6:50.

Alas, the movies had all moved up by 20 minutes. Away We Go started at 6:50 and the Hangover started at 7:00. It was 7:03. So we hedged our bets and went to the Hangover.

I will give the movie some credit. Parts of it were quite funny. All I knew was that the movie was about a bachelor trip to Vegas. I had no idea the extent of the outrageousity (!) of the plot line. But everytime I started thinking it was stupid, something funny happened.

And the picture sequence at the end of the movie had me cracking up hysterically. As we walked home I kept thinking of funny scenes and lines in the movie.

I'm definitely not recommending you spend $10 for this movie as we did (we are apparently trying to spend all of my salary on movies and food), but maybe you could netflix it. I will probably never watch it again because I don't think it has repeat value - you have to be surprised by these jokes.

However, keep in mind that I for the most part don't dislike movies. As long as I am entertained for a couple hours and not bored, they're okay with me.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Just Watched: Up

This movie was wonderfully cute and and terribly sad all at the same time. Although it did have a happy ending. I really don't have much to say about it, but I would recommend you see it. Just be prepared for the tears.

And don't forget that life is an adventure.

Just Watched: Sicko

Somehow Matt and I managed not to watch this movie when it came out, but we finally Netflixed it. It was depressing, to say the least. So many stories of people dying because their health insurance failed them. So many fabulous stories of other countries - Canada, England, France, Norway, even Cuba. Now I am sure that there are downsides to socialized medicine too, but Moore does make some good points. Here in the US we have socialized fire, police, and education services. Is it really such a stretch to socialize medicine as well?

Every time Moore went to a new country, Matt decided we should move there. 5 weeks of vacation minimum? Plus unlimited sick days, lots of holidays, 35 hour work weeks (where overtime is paid out in vacation), 6 months paid maternity leave plus an optional 6 months unpaid, daycare that costs $1/hour.

The thing that most interested me about the movie, though, was the concept that in France, the government is afraid of the people, and in the US, the people are afraid of the government. People in other countries turn out in droves for protests on a regular basis. They showed one protest because the government was trying to take away one guaranteed holiday. Here in the US, these days we've only had really big protests regarding wars, and even those pale in comparison to other countries.

Here in the US, if you try to hold out for a job with more than 2 weeks vacation, people tell you you should be happy with any vacation at all. Here in the US, we just accept what is given to us. We are afraid to ask for more. Somebody will always be ready to step in and take your place if you ask for too much.

I'm interested in why this difference exists. Why do we think our workers don't deserve paid time off, just compensation, and excellent medical care? Why don't we believe the myriad studies that show productivity increases with shorter work weeks and more vacations? Why do we think that working 3 jobs to pay the bills is heroic and according to Bush, "uniquely American," as if it's a great thing and not a terrible thing? Why is it so much different in France?

I got three weeks of vacation. But I didn't hold out for a job that had the benefit package I really wanted. Still I got better than most. And that is because I had the luxury to be picky in my job-seeking.

But I really do think we have to figure out, as a nation, how to not settle for the bottom of the barrel. If we all decide we deserve better, couldn't we get it? Couldn't we decide to help ourselves and our neighbors?

I realize I'm way off the health care tracks right now, but I think the differences between the US and other countries of our means are astonishingly ridiculous. What happened to us?

Guess we'll be moving to Canada...

Watching a Baby Bird Die

Yesterday as we were walking down the hill to a barbecue, Matt and my dad stopped to look at something, and then told me not to look. Naturally I looked back. Lying on the ground was what appeared to be a little rubber animal - like a floppy chicken. It was really a baby bird with no fur, splatted on the ground, but intact, like it had done a belly flop. But as I peered closer, I saw it begin to move. The poor little thing was struggling to go somewhere. And it wasn't going to make it.

It had clearly fallen out of its nest far too early. I wanted to stop and help it, but we didn't know what to do. Then I suggested that maybe we should kill it, but that was vetoed as well. So we just walked on, leaving a tiny, unfeathered baby bird waiting to die on the sidewalk.

First an egg, then a baby bird. What's next?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Always Look on The Bright Side of Life...

Do do do do. Do do. do do do do do do...

Last night Matt and I went to see Spamalot starring John O'Hurley. It's based mostly on Monty Python's The Holy Grail and featured full-on Monty Python humor with a side of political jokes and gay love.

Parts of the play were hilariously, laugh-out loud-really-loudly funny, but parts were also boring. Of course, it was well past my bedtime, so maybe I was just asleep. It's hard to tell. We got the cheapest seats, $30, in the corner of the balcony. Funny thing - the whole balcony was full, while the mezzanine had lots of empty seats. Couldn't even see the Orchestra.

We also had the meanest usher ever. She wouldn't give us two playbills because I had the nerve to ask for one instead of waiting. She proceeded to give everybody else as many playbills as people, until someone tried to take a playbill from the stack. Then you only got one. She also made sure that the entire party was present before letting them sit down. And she forgot her watch, so she had to ask Matt for the time. The first time she asked kind of nicely. The second time she said, "Excuse me, I need to get the time from you. I forgot my watch." I'm pretty sure if you're going to be such an anal, brusque usher, you'd better bring a watch.

Then on the way home, in the wee hours of the night (about 10:30) we got accosted by a very drunk man at the bus stop who had ripped out some flowers from across the street and brought them over to us, for Matt to give to his pretty wife, because his boyfriend was in Europe doing something and it was killing him. And, how do I get home? And, here, take some money. After we got on the bus, he proceeded to pound on it over and over again as it pulled away. Despite the fact that I'm pretty sure he kissed me on my forehead, I hope he got home okay.

Ah, the joys of standing on corners.

I'm not sure if I'd recommend the play. Maybe if it was only $20. It was hilarious, but so are the movies. So you could just rent one.

Monday, June 15, 2009

City Walks SF #38: Duboce Triangle and Upper Market

I loved this walk. Noe turns out to be a beautiful tree lined street with extra large sidewalks featuring little groups of benches and planters. So peaceful. And still so close to the Castro. After I decided I wanted to move here, we saw a house for sale for about $2.15 million. Considering that's about twice as much as in our neighborhood, I think we might be a bit short on the proportional rent.

Duboce Park is also very nice, although we didn't manage to get a good picture of it. (Clearly it's very close to transit though.)

And not featured on our walk card, but also noteworthy - the US Mint.

City Walks #37: Market Street and Hayes Valley

This walk featured a surprising neighborhood of upscale shops and eateries, hidden in what I would consider to be a not very nice part of town. I'm glad I know it's there. Not that I'll likely go back. There are so many other places where I might actually be able to buy something. I feel like the last several walks have been hitting up the high priced, trendy neighborhoods. I'd rather go to the Sunset for shopping and food.

City Walks #36: Civic Center

We've been through the Civic Center many times, on buses, on foot, on trips to the library and farmers market. This time we took the time to meander through the UN Plaza, and we attempted to go check out the dome in City Hall, but it was closed. The Asian Art Museum is being saved for the Samurai exhibit. The Civic Center is definitely a neat place that many tourists avoid. Maybe because of all the homeless people and the lovely smell...

The Civic Center also features the Veterans Building - where the United Nations Charter was signed, an opera house, a symphony hall, and the main library.

City Walks #35: Alamo Square and the Lower Haight

You may recognize the Painted Ladies of Alamo Square, made famous by Full House. And maybe some other shows and movies. Alamo Square is a pretty nice park - playground, dog play area, nice views. I love all the green spaces in the city.

Lower Haight is full of supposedly good restaurants, although we didn't try any. Also tattoo parlors and houses with funny facades.

The card refers to Lower Haight as "the Upper Haight's rougher, scrappier counterpart."

City Walks #34: Japantown

We've enjoyed Japantown before - tasty food, red bean and green tea gelato, and of course the Peace Pagoda. The place is mainly a shopping mall, holding on to its vibrant history that was taken away during the World War II internments.

City Walks SF #33: Fillmore Street

More shops and restaurants, but Alta Plaza Park featured some nice views, if a lot of concrete.

City Walks SF #30: Union Street and Chestnut Street

This weekend we went on several city walks, many of them through shopping and restaurant districts. This one included the affluent Marina District, where shops were way out of our price range. The walk also featured one of the city's two remaining octagon houses (I think the other we documented on an earlier city walk). These houses were once thought to be fortuitous. I suspect it has something to do with the Chinese roots of the city, but I can't be sure.

We also attempted to get our New Mexican margarita fix at Left at Albuquerque, but the menu was sadly disappointing. And thus began my day of drinking.

Bad Omens?

This morning a pigeon attempted to lay an egg on her former nest site (long since knocked down by yours truly and her husband), and now we have a cracked-open egg with unborn pigeon guts splayed all over our balcony. I have so much yolk on my hands... (metaphorically speaking)

This afternoon our office manager/research coordinator was suddenly fired. That makes 10% of the employees in about a month. Funny thing is, we're looking to expand, not lay people off. And the boss locked the door and called security just in case. Yeah. Guess I better make sure I'm doing a good job.

What will the third thing be?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Is it Baseball Season?

This morning I finished reading a baseball book that Matt lent to me (I say lent because we keep our books on separate shelves - because of me - and he hates it when I turn down the pages on his books. He might fine me).

At the beginning I wasn't sure how I felt about it because the author, a former big league pitcher, tells a lot of stories that are often incongruous, with some being two lines and some being several pages. I found it hard to follow. But then I realized it was a perfect book for reading on the subway because it contains lots of convenient stopping places.

And by the time I finished reading the book today, I realized that I had really enjoyed it. The stories are entertaining and really telling of what goes on - or at least used to go on in 1969 in baseball clubhouses, dugouts, and bullpens. But the book also talks about the larger issues of what to do with your life and how playing in the big leagues doesn't even always make you feel like you're good enough as a person. (And if that doesn't, how do the rest of us get there? By realizing you don't have to cure cancer to be worthwhile.)

We also watched Bull Durham last night, which is a fantastic baseball movie. It's hard to believe it was made 20 years ago. Bull Durham, unlike Major League, is not only a funny baseball story, but also tells more interesting stories about life.

To be honest, I find baseball quite boring, especially on TV. Although I enjoy going to baseball games, often I just people watch. But I do recommend this book and movie.

Matt is currently reading a baseball book I lent him, by one of my favorite nature authors. I guess it's just that time of year.

And my Predictions Have Come True

Hello there long lost blog friends.

This past week was my first full 5 day work week in the office, preceded by a 6 day, 60 hour work week that included a 3 day trip to Boston in which I never got to leave the conference center. And during those two weeks I have been writing on planes and at night for a magazine deadline.

I managed to never have time to buy a plane ticket to LA this weekend to see our friends until the plane tickets finally became too expensive. (Except for the night before I flew to Hawaii during which, in a rush, I bought a plane ticket for the wrong weekend and decided to go to bed instead of purchasing any other inappropriate things.)

I've been far too busy to spend time on the internet or head out into the world, and therefore I have had no material about which to blog. I fear this will become my routine. However, if my husband ever wakes up we might be doing some City Walks today, so maybe I'll at least have a pretty picture or two to post.

Hope everybody's doing well!

See more pictures of my nephew. Three weeks until we get to meet him!