Saturday, August 22, 2015

Like liver, spinach, and beets too

It's one of the indignities of middle age -- and perhaps the amount of alcohol I've consumed over the last 20 years -- that I can remember lyrics to truly terrible songs but not always, say, where I put my phone or the name of that former bar customer who's really happy to see me. Back in the 80s when they forced the entire class to be in "chorus," we had to sing this doggerel set to Bach:

"We are supposed to sing this song / I hope it doesn’t last too long / If you think its boring please refrain from snoring / Remember that its culture! / Culture is something good for you / Like liver, spinach and beets too..."
I could go on because MY BRAIN SUCKS. This is a real thing, by the way, that kids still get stuck with, I googled it. I can only imagine how cheesy today's fourth graders think this is. I used to know kids who were in gangs by fourth grade.

The reason I had this debacle of a 30-year-old traumatic memory as an earworm yesterday is because I went to a museum. Culture, man. I am not anti-museum, though it's fair to say I don't go to them often enough to claim I'm pro-museum either. And museums are one of the reasons San Fran Fucking Hipster Douchebro Cisco can still justify its existence in 2015. The East Bay can generally do anything SF can do, but cheaper and better. Great art? Not so much.

When I say I don't do museums and museum-y culture type things as often as I "should," that is to say I really get something out of it, NOT that I consider it medicine to be taken to get I Am A Good Person points. I also like liver, spinach, and beets. For real, I open that plastic bag of chicken garbage that comes inside the chicken and I fry up that liver with some garlic and Shechuan peppercorn, that shit is tasty.

The flavor of Culture yesterday was the special exhibit by JMW Turner, an artist I hadn't been that exposed to, and thus an exhibit I probably would not have otherwise dragged ass 90 minutes on public transit to get to, but part of the fun of having friends in town is you actually go out and do things because no one wants to spend their whole vacation on your couch. JMW Turner, as it turns out, was a bad-ass motherfucker. He spent a lot of his later years traveling and painting various European cities. There are worse ways to live. Here's my favorite:
Joseph Mallord William Turner ‘Heidelberg: Sunset’, c.1840
© Manchester City Galleries
I mean, yes, I'd had my mental pump primed by knowing that he traveled a lot, but I instantly knew this was Heidelberg, despite having only been there once for a few days in 2001, and despite this being a freakin' watercolor. It was crazy to me that something so impressionistic was also so realistic. That's about as good as my art criticism gets before devolving into enthusiastic profanity. (I'm also the type of classy broad that sees a painting of something burning down and offers "shit's on fire, yo" as a scholarly assessment.)

Turner died at 76, which was a really good run for the 1800s, and among other things left more than 19,000 drawings and watercolors. Yeah, I very much had a "and what are you doing with YOUR life?" moment upon learning that tidbit. But later one of my friends left me a long message saying, among other things, that she loves that I am keeping up my beer blog because she hasn't written anything lately. So, baby steps. And if I keep waking up at 4am I'll have a whole pile of shitty blog posts to show for myself when I'm dead!

I checked into the De Young on Facebook and got a couple of the obvious "is there beer there" variety of joke, so a) I need to do more Culture and b) I need to tell more people more often that I do things that aren't beer. It's one thing to build a reputation as a local expert, quite another to have a one-track mind. Which I don't. Trust me, my mind has way too many tracks.

This concludes another episode of Up At 4am Blog Nonsense. Go to a museum soon and have a nice day.

Monday, August 17, 2015

"And the public wants what the public gets/but I don't get what this society wants..."

Hello 4 am my old friend, I've come to blog with you again. I should try to get back to sleep but that would require shutting the windows. Go to work on 3 hours of sleep vs turn my house back into a swamp? I'll regret this later but fresh air wins.

Here is a post I wrote and did not publish about a month ago when life was basically STOP THE WORLD I WANT TO GET OFF.
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I just took five days off Facebook and man was that nice. I'm going to come right out and admit that I rarely ENJOY being on Facebook, but I suffer from a variety of FOMO that is better described as FOBU, Fear of Being Uninformed. At one point I asked Rick if anyone we both know had gotten engaged or pregnant or anything. It makes me insane that I'm in the demographic that forgot how to keep in touch without Facebook. I know I could try harder to manage my relationship with the Book of Faces (time limits? only look once a day? only look at certain friends?) but I have poor impulse control so it often becomes a boycott vs check 50 times a day sort of proposition. Our corporate overlords can afford to figure out how to get you addicted to the little red flags. I'm working on it.

I had a pretty packed week, but if you don't tell the Internet about it did it really happen? Well, I trained at my new job on Wednesday...everyone seems chill, I'm looking forward to it. My car died (again) on Thursday. My last day as a bartender was Friday. It was one of those really slow shifts (3 day weekend in an area populated by people who can afford to go out of town) and if you've worked in a bar you know the slow ones can be trouble, with or without an occasion. We popped some bottles, my workfriend and I systematically tasted all 32 beers on tap, and one of the cooks got so bored she smoked a bowl in the alley then made me a cake. It spelled out "WE LOVE JEN" in chocolate chips. I should post a picture but five days off Facebook has rekindled my love of text-only so use your imagination. My colleague put me in an Uber at the end of the night so now I've taken one of those things. When the driver found out it was my first time and I don't have my own account, he ranted all the way to Richmond about how much Uber sucks. "They take 25 percent of every ride and all they did was write a computer program and get a lawyer."

Saturday, I saw Inside Out with some friends and cried like a little bitch. Hey, I thought only new moms and 5-year-olds cried during that flick, not angry middle-aged women. No one warned me. They were still doing early-movie exposition and I was like ALL MY MEMORIES AT THAT AGE WERE BLUE OR PURPLE BLUB BLUB BLUB. Rude.

I walked home from Richmond BART on the night of the 4th of July. 'Hood fireworks are a trip. You've got cute little sparklers and massive sound-only bombs and everything in between. Cops and fire trucks thick on the ground, on their way from one call to another, doing their best. Prostitution on 23rd Street a bit more open than usual. 'Merica! Someday when Richmond is all specialty bakeries and dog yoga I'll try to explain what it used to be like on the 4th and I'll fail because I can't even do it today.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

What it's like inside my brain, part 1

It occurs to me, if I blogged every time I woke up at Oh Dark Thirty and couldn't get back to sleep, this blog would be pretty active. So here is a story from the 90s.

You get your driver's license at 17 in New Jersey, or at least you did when I lived there. So I was 17 years old when my parents let me have the car one night and I don't remember where I was or what I did but I'm guessing it wasn't too exciting. I had a friend in the car with me who was still 16 and I felt useful.

I was 17 but I didn't drink then so it's not one of THOSE stories but at some point I committed some minor traffic infraction, the type of honest mistake you make when you are an inexperienced driver who does not get the car that often. I don't remember what this was either but it doesn't really matter.

When we pulled into the driveway of my parents' house, I must have taken a second to eject the cassette tape from the deck or something, because by the time I opened the door there was a man standing in my parents' driveway and then he was in the driver's side doorway of the car.

No, it's not one of THOSE stories either, so I recognize that in the grand scheme of things I'm complaining about Not Much, but it's still not pleasant.

This man had followed me home to yell at me about my driving. I played it off with my friend like it was funny but really I was scared. It's not the first time some man of that generation had yelled at me disproportionately to what I'd done wrong, but getting it from a total fucking stranger was new. I don't know how long he stood there giving shit to a 17-year-old girl who looked 12, but in my memory it stretches out into pretty much forever.

To this day, when I make some minor goof in traffic, the type that maybe gets me the horn but not the finger, I make sure no one is following me home. In fact, if I accidentally cut you off, probably the next thing I'll do is turn down some random side street and make sure you didn't come after me.

And that is one of the many ways living inside my brainpan is adorable.

Now that I'm older, I feel even more confident saying a grown-ass man following a teenager home to verbally abuse her in front of her home while blocking her exit from her parents' vehicle is a pretty sad way for an adult to spend any part of his evening.

Hooray for modeling stable adult behavior to the youth of your community!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Oh shit, it's a bucket list

I went to Belgium last week. Also I turned 40.

We've been talking about going back to Belgium for years. The trip before that was Taiwan in 2012, and we'd been talking about that since 2002.

I realized at some point a few weeks ago that with my life at least half over (c'mon, I may be alive after 80, but I will NOT be traveling...) I'd better narrow down my travel to-do list from "everywhere" because that's not going to happen because I'm not Anthony Bourdain. I'd better prioritize. So here's the new top of the list:
  • Japan (which we've been wanting to do since 2006)
  • Germany (we've been saying we'd go back someday since we moved away in 2003)
  • Vietnam (made the list when our friend Craig went...10 or so years ago?)
  • Vienna before 2020 while we have crash space there/somewhere in Eastern Europe like maybe the Czech Republic which we wanted to go to in 2003 but ran out of money and had to come back to the states?
  • Senegal or Ghana or more realistically South Africa, yes, this will be the hard one, but I need me some live African music at the source before I die
I know there should be something South/Central America on there but no one place has yet to capture my fancy in a huge, serious way.

I don't know if we'll ever get to all those places of if we'll get to all of them in the next six years. I don't know how finances and logistics are going to go. When we left Europe in 2003 we had no idea we wouldn't be taking a real overseas vacation again until 2010. There's also a lot of great stuff to do in this country, but there's only so much cultural mind expansion you can do within your own borders, even if your country is really big. 

My advice to new parents and broke people who want to travel but can't right now is keep the dream alive. Those places will be there in 10 years. Unless you want to go to Venice. Then you might be screwed.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

That's my chief

Everyone's been posting this on my Facebook timeline, so I figured it deserved a more permanent home. We are lucky to have a great police force in Richmond. (And now there's a counterpoint to the surly December posts at this blog!)