Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Road to Rock Stardom

This is what I believe I would look like if I were a rock star.

While it is very unlikely I actually will become a rock star, or any kind of music star, I am one step closer. I don't want to jinx anything by telling you too much, but... The Sub Rosas have a gig! I'm not talking three songs at an open mic or playing for my co-workers at Doug's house; I mean a real, honest to goodness gig. With a full set and (theoretically) people we don't know in the audience. This may prove to be The Sub Rosas last dying breath as Rosa moves on to other projects, but still. What a way to go.

Again, I don't want to risk ruining everything by spilling too many beans, but suffice it to say a date has been confirmed with the venue, and Rosa and I will soon go about the business of creating our playlist. I'll update you on this anticipated moment in music history as more particulars are solidified. And if you know me personally, I'll expect to see you there.

(I am so excited!)

On an unrelated topic, I am exhausted today. I went to a super fun party last night and stayed up way too late. Let me tell you, after being out until about 2 a.m., 8:15 came awfully early this morning. I was smart enough not to drink, though. So I'm only fatigued, as opposed to hungover. How much fun was this party? I have two words for you: bunny dance. Make of that what you will (but this is still me, so nothing terribly dirty is involved).

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Like 1997 Again

Well, it's not exactly like 1997, but sort of.

When I first moved to San Francisco, Blondie's in the Mission was my very favorite bar. It had quite the neighborhood feel eleven years ago, and I recall spending many a Saturday night sipping pint sized lemon drops and listening to live swing bands alongside Mission denizens. I also met a couple of really cute boys there back in the day, and that was enough to keep me coming back again and again. Plus, I became friends with the owner, Nikki, who is super nice.

I didn't live in the Mission, myself, however. I had come to Blondie's from another neighborhood, as would many, many people over the next several years. By, say, 2001 or 2002, the weekend crowd at Blondie's had grown exponentially, and the bar had lost it's live music license, meaning no more bands. The bowling shirt clad gentlemen who previously had filled the place were nowhere to be found; replaced by overgrown frat boys and the lingering happy hour crowd who now bounce to the beat of far too much hip hop and house music. So I turned my attention to other San Francisco watering holes.

Well, I just may become a Blondie's regular again, at least one day a week. Nikki got her live music license back about four years ago, and last month, Rosa and I made an appearance at Blondie's Wednesday night open mic. Then last night, I was back. Sadly, as I mentioned before on this space, Rosa's unforgiving work schedule is keeping her away from open mics these days, but thanks to the magic of Craigslist, I have found another guitarist.

With my barstool fan club of Suzanne and Zeina cheering me on, and several members of the house band joining in on my three-song "set," I treated the crowd to renditions of the Beatles, Icicle Works (again) and the Stone Poneys. Plus, thanks to some lucky timing, I think the bar was most crowded while I was singing, and people were actually paying attention. I even got the weirdo-chic punk hippy who had performed before me to sing along while he gave me a beer bottle salute. That, in my opinion, is a serious accomplishment.

I'll be back in two weeks, armed with more three minute pop songs. And there just may come a time when, if you want to find me on a Wednesday night, the open mic stage at Blondie's will be the only place you need look.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Hopping Down the Bunny Trail

I have a jelly bean hangover.

Actually, it's possible I am still riding a sugar high from the 16 pounds of Easter candy I have eaten today. It's been just so delicious.

In addition to my champion sweets consumption, I have established an Easter tradition: brunch at the Rex Cafe in Russian Hill. Little did I know in 2001, the first year I organized Easter brunch with my friends, that this would be become a not-to-be-missed event. Some years see more brunchers than others, but it's always a good party. We had a relatively small group this time around, with Tom, Suzanne, Steve, Katie and me gathering for mid-afternoon snacks and drinks. I brought the Easter basket, as always, and a good time was had by all.

Well, it's possible Suzanne had one bad moment when the waitress spilled a mimosa on her, but other than that, it was good time for everyone.

After brunch, I took a tiny nap, and now here I am at work. I like having a work schedule that allows me to celebrate a holiday before coming in to earn my paycheck. When I got here, I found a tiny marshmallow-Rice Krispie Easter treat left for me by my co-worker Megan. It was shaped like a bird's nest with chocolate eggs in the middle. Yum.

Did I mention that I've eaten 16 pounds of candy today?

Hey, guess what? One month from today I will be back in Hawaii. Yippee! I am so excited for the warm sun, my morning jogs, the beach and all the lava flow cocktails I anticipate drinking. And of course I'll get to see Diva Mommy. Plus, Emily is going to join me for about half of the trip. I'm also talking to Tom about coming, and he just may do it. Maybe. If you happen to be interested in a serious Waikiki party, let me know.

I suppose it probably wasn't a wise idea to load up on candy one month before I have to don a bathing suit, but oh, well. Happy Easter, anyway!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Return of Day Drinking!

Four years ago I found myself unemployed at the same time as several friends of mine. It began with Tom, who lost his job in September 2003, mere days before he and I went on vacation with our friend Chris to North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia. Tom was very calm about his work situation and simply took the rest of the year off before beginning to look for a new job at the start of 2004.

I was let go from my job in December 2003 and was not nearly so Zen about my circumstances. I was rather well grounded at first, knowing full well that I'd land on my feet, but my positive attitude didn't last. I pretty much took the holidays off because you can't find a job during the last three weeks of December, anyway, and also began my employment search in early January. However, being a person who needs stability and a bit of control, I quickly became anxious. I had plenty of money saved, but spending it frightened me. And I began to wonder if I'd find a decent job in my chosen profession. As it happened, I found an even better job in my chosen profession, but back in those dark winter days of early 2004, who knew how everything would work out?

Since we were both unemployed, Tom and I did a lot of chatting during that time. One day he mentioned that he and his friend Jessica, who was also between jobs, had developed a semi-regular lunch habit during which they'd always have beer to accompany their meals. Somehow, that lead Tom and me to decide to take one day off from job hunting every week or two and find somewhere to drink during the day (forget lunch, you can eat at home). Day drinking came with some pretty specific rules: it had to take place in an actual bar on a weekday, and the imbibing had to begin by 2 p.m., at the latest.

Day drinking took us to a wide variety of watering holes, including the Gold Dust Lounge, the Phoenix and Zeitgeist. As winter turned to spring and then to summer, our family of mid-day partiers grew. Unfortunately, Jessica proved to be a short term day drinker when she landed a job within a matter of weeks. By mid-March, I began working part-time, but my employment was very part-time, and I certainly could still fit day drinking into my schedule. Sometime in the spring Suzanne jumped into the mix, and in May Chris quit his job. Even though she was employed full time, Gretchen would sometimes join us, as she worked at night. Even Irina, who lives in L.A. but was also without a job back then, would come up to San Francisco to day drink on occasion.

At some point, I'm not sure how or why, the other bars faded into the background, and the Orbit Room, with its floor to ceiling windows and cafe-like atmosphere, became our day drinking spot of choice. Over time, however, our schedules grew more congested, and eventually we all found gainful employment. Thus the end of day drinking.

Until yesterday, that is. Even though we all have full time jobs, Suzanne corralled us back to the Orbit Room for a few Friday afternoon cocktails. She and I are pictured to the left enjoying the return of day drinking. (For the record, my work schedule does allow me to indulge in the occasional Wednesday or Thursday day drinking, but it never involves the 2004 day drinking crowd.) Our day drinking this time around was more like a traditional happy hour, given that we are committed to our employers. I worked an early shift at my job and arrived at the Orbit Room by 4:15. Ronn, whom I know through Chris, was behind the bar and concocted a lovely beverage for me with fresh strawberries and basil (okay, and vodka). Suzanne showed up next at 5 p.m. with her coworkers Zeina and Alexandra. At about 5:30, Chris made his entrance, and Tom pulled up the rear at 6:00. More cocktails were enjoyed, including one with fresh peaches and ginger, and the day drinking tradition was revived.

While waiting for the others, I had chatted a little bit with a couple playing Scrabble at the bar. When Chris saw them about an hour later, he knew he had to meet them so he could play. We coaxed them to our table, where an intense game ensued. It was Chris and Zeina, pictured here deep in strategy, against our new friends Val and John. It turns out Val and John were either lightweights or several cocktails ahead of us because they were a bit tipsy. To the point that Val began telling us details of her sex life that definitely fall under the category of too much information. We were also a tiny bit scared when she asked us if we "like to party," but overall, Val and John were quite nice. Chris and Zeina won the Scrabble game, by the way.

After the sun set, Zeina and Alexandra had to go, Chris had a dinner date, and Tom, Suzanne and I hit Zeitgeist for Roland's birthday party. And here's what I learned: on a Wednesday afternoon Zeitgeist is one of the greatest bars on the planet, but on a Friday night it sucks. Between the wall to wall people and the incredibly rude staff (who were probably driven to said rudeness by the maddening crowd, but still), going home began to look like a very attractive option. The cold San Francisco evening didn't help matters; so after one beer and a two tamales from the Tamale Lady, I called it a night. That is the good thing about day drinking: you can have a full evening and still get home and to bed at a decent hour.

After all was said and done, however, I felt a bit like crap when I woke up this morning. I wasn't so much hungover as just very aware that I'd poured alcohol into my system. I think I've become more sensitive to liquor since I've only been drinking two days a week (by and large) for the last 14 months. And that crappy feeling kind of makes me want to quit drinking altogether.

Kind of, anyway. Day drinking just wouldn't work with lemonade.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"Excuse me, are you Kamala Harris?"

I was at the gala opening celebration for the Rrazz Room, a new cabaret space in the Hotel Nikko, last night when a woman sheepishly interrupted my conversation and posed that question. Now, I happen to know and greatly admire San Francisco's District Attorney; so I was very flattered to be mistaken for her. However, I look nothing whatsoever like Kamala Harris. Nothing. Should you require more convincing of that fact, I have provided visual aids. Above is a photo of San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, who is half African American and half Indian. Below is a photo of me. I am half African American and half Caucasian. As you can see, we really don't look alike. If nothing else, she straightens her hair, while mine is quite curly, and I am at least three inches taller than she is, if not more.

I mean no disrespect whatsoever to the woman who thought I may be Kamala; she simply made a mistake. I tell you this tale in part because I mean it when I say I admire Kamala Harris. To that end, I truly did enjoy the idea that someone thought I might be her. It also was just plain funny to me because I happen to know her. But this exchange does bring up a curious idea. Why did this woman assume I might be the D.A.? Is it because I was possibly the only mixed race woman in the room, and I happened to be standing four feet away from Willie Brown, whom I don't know, and wasn't talking to him? (If you live in San Francisco, you understand the Willie Brown reference.) My friend Terry suggested that a lot of mixed race women in San Francisco might be assumed to be Kamala Harris, but again, I ask: why? Especially if the mixed race woman in question really doesn't look like her. Halle Berry and Jennifer Beals are of similar mixed ethnicity; do people confuse them? Yes, that's a silly question because Halle Berry and Jennifer Beals are both famous, but still. Something to think about, maybe.

Or not. About a year ago or so a cab driver told me I look like Sonia Braga, and I don't. But I didn't over think that comparison. He meant it as a compliment, and I just took it that way.

The Rrazz Room gala was super fun, by the way. Kurt and I went, and we had all the cocktails and champagne we wanted while being treated to a whole bunch of cabaret singers, including Paula West, Wesla Whitfield, Freda Payne and Mary Wilson. I was introduced to Mary Wilson and Freda Payne, and Freda Payne remembered having met me before, which was pretty exciting for me. It was also neato to meet an actual Supreme. Kurt and I both had a fabulous time. Wouldn't it be nice if life were just one champagne gala after another?

After the gala, my evening went a tiny bit south. I was awoken in the wee hours of the morning by the booming voices of some drunken St. Patrick's Day revelers downstairs. It sounded like they were in my downstairs neighbor's apartment and in the downstairs hallway. Well, if the loud music and celebratory yelling weren't enough, I soon heard the front door of my apartment building repeatedly slam so hard the building shook. I thought about tip-toeing downstairs to investigate this obviously raucous party, but then I decided the scene was no place for a girl in her pajamas. The noise abated, and I went back to sleep.

Well, when I got up to go running this morning I found my building's front door frame so badly damaged, the door could not shut properly, let alone lock. Actually it wasn't just damaged; part of the door frame had literally been torn off. The property management company has since fixed it, but good lord. This is an apartment building, not a dormitory. Grow up, you morons.

On a final note tonight, I have become addicted to the HBO show "In Treatment." I didn't think I'd like it, and given that it's on five nights a week, watching "In Treatment" takes more of a commitment than I can make. But then I caught a couple of episodes and was hooked. The acting is just so good. And luckily, with multiple channels of HBO on my cable system, I can always catch an "In Treatment" mini-marathon and get reasonably caught up. So I'm not tied to my television set every night.

Is it wrong to use the term "addicted" when writing about an affinity for a show about therapy? Probably.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Wood Anniversary

This Wednesday marks, in my opinion, a rather inauspicious anniversary. I'm sure plenty of people would disagree with me calling this occasion inauspicious, and I respect that. I'm talking about the beginning of the Iraq War: March 19th, 2003. Since those first bombs hit, Saddam Hussein has been tried and executed; President Bush has been re-elected (good Lord); and a historic race for the Democratic presidential nomination this year could result in a fractured political party.

Five years.

I'm not terribly interested in using this space as a political soapbox, but I do find myself wondering how the lives of everyday Iraqis have changed during this time. That I can read about. Instead of writing about it, I've decided to behave like a typical self-involved American and steer clear of politics by looking at how my own life compares with what it was in March 2003.

Employment. Early spring 2003 saw me holding what I thought was the best job of my career. While it did provide me with a very good resume line, the job was far from perfect. For one thing, I worked for an incredibly dysfunctional company. For another, I was growing increasingly bored. When I went to my 15-year high school reunion that May, I found myself a little embarrassed to tell my former classmates what I did for a living. Well, I didn't have to be embarrassed for long; I was fired from that job at the end of the year. Now I work in the same industry but in a significantly better position. My current job also isn't perfect, but it's better. On every level.

Body. Oh, the glory days of 2003. I was so thin. I'm hardly fat now, but I was in incredibly good shape five years ago. I had lost a chunk of weight in late 2002 (due to depression, but whatever; I'm over it now), and before I could gain it back, I began working with personal trainers. Nine months of training combined with a newfound love of jogging and a much better diet than the one I currently maintain rendered me about 12 pounds lighter than I am today. Plus, I was much leaner. At least I still love running and my gym. And I still look good, if a bit curvier.

Boys. As the Iraq War began, I was dating a geologist eight years my junior. For some reason, I did a lot of shopping for men in the junior section that year. This particular gentleman and I had met just over a month before at a Valentine's Day party. I had volunteered, along with my friend Marissa, to man the party's kissing booth. It seemed like a good idea until I actually had to kiss a couple of guys. I quickly realized how horrible making out with totally random strangers can be. Ick. The geologist wandered over, and I latched on to him in an effort to scare off kissing booth Romeos. Happily, it worked, and the geologist and I hit it off. We didn't date very long, and it never got at all serious. In fact, I think it was over by late April or so when he faded away without actually telling me he'd lost interest. Typical, but the geologist was still a nice fellow. I stayed in touch with him off and on for about six months after we stopped going out, but I have no idea where he is now or what he may be doing. I should hit Google and look him up. I'll do that if I ever remember his last name. Had I been asked back then, I probably would have guessed that I'd be married by now or at least in a serious relationship. Not so much, so I guess my love life is pretty much the same as it was five years ago. Except that the boys and I are all older.

Home. I live in the same apartment that I did in 2003. I still love it, but the building, as a whole, is a little worse for wear. It was sold that September, and the new owners are not very good at fixing things or keeping up with improvements. I'd move, but I love my little home. Besides, rents have shot up in the last year, and I probably can't afford to live anywhere else.

Okay, that's all I can think of. I know my experiences pale in comparison with what the Iraqis and American soldiers serving in Iraq are going through. Let's just hope that we can soon mark the anniversary of the end of this war.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Music, Movies and a Cooking Class

I don't cook. Proudly.

I imagine I could be a very good cook, but honestly, I just have no interest. People tell me I probably don't cook because I'm single; you know, it's no fun to cook only for yourself, etc. However, I suspect that even when I get married, we'll be eating out. Unless my husband cooks. I could be wrong, but that's my current prediction. I know how to make about three dishes quite well, and that's sustained me throughout my adulthood so far.

That said, somehow, last Thursday night, I found myself at a Brown alumni event that involved cooking. It was a Parties That Cook evening at Sur La Table, and a bunch of us Brown alums paid to drink wine while learning new recipes. Some of the dishes sounded fancy, some not so much, but when all was said and done, everything was delicious.

I attended this little cooking extravaganza with Paul, Denise, Jim and Molly, but I also ran into Mehul there. Mehul and I knew each other at Brown but haven't seen each other since we graduated in 1992. And neither of us knew the other lives in San Francisco. So even if I never cook again, I'd say running into him 16 years later was worth the price of the class/party.

After our culinary adventures, Denise and I went to the House of Shields to see my friend Pat Johnson play. Pat still insists that I am his only fan. I, in turn, still doubt that assertion, but I was certainly his fan with the most stamina that night. Pat played for two full hours, and I was there for virtually the entire set. Other fans came and went, but Pat had my attention the whole time. He's a pretty talented guy; so I'm happy to be his fan. But I'm totally not the only one.

In other news, I believe I have mentioned that I'm incredibly lazy about seeing movies. I rarely set foot in movie theatres, and I don't even rent films. I just wait for everything to come on cable. It's not that I don't like movies; I love them. I'm just lazy. However, I made an exception yesterday to see one of my very favorite movies, Paper Moon, on the big screen at the Castro Theatre. The Castro hosted a Peter Bogdonavich retrospective this weekend, and Mr Bogdonavich, himself, was even there to introduce the film.

After being charmed by the so-lovely Paper Moon, Tom and I went for tacos followed by cocktails at the Attic. The DJ's at the Attic last night were spinning awesome music, helping it regain it's position as my new favorite bar. I actually didn't drink last night, so only Tom indulged in the $5 Chimay, but the music and the atmosphere were good enough for me.

And tonight, after enjoying an extra hour of evening sunlight, I intend to soak up a few episodes of "In Treatment" on HBO and go to bed early. Tihanna and I are going to the spa tomorrow morning in advance of her move to Texas on Wednesday; so I have to rest up.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Narcissus Would Be Proud

I am so wrong.

I have a little side job writing this Cool-Things-About-Town column for a neighborhood newspaper. I don't get paid for this "job," but it's only a monthly paper and writing the column is pretty fun. Anyway, I picked up a copy of the March issue yesterday and immediately turned to my own column. And that's when I found myself laughing out loud and delighting in my own cleverness. For several minutes.

I now officially have no retort if someone calls me self involved.

That said, do you know who is not wrong? Paula West. Terry and I went to see her at the new Rrazz Room last night, and she was awesome. As always. In addition to the jazz standards that usually comprise her set, she treated us to cabaret arrangements of Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice," The Beach Boys' "God Only Knows" and The Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want." I guess Paula is a classic rock fan as well as a jazz aficionado.

Paula West is the kind of singer I could only be in my dreams.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

To Quote Diablo Cody...

... when she won her Academy Award last month: "What is going on here?!"

No update for six days?!? Okay, that's less than a week, but still, I feel like a big league slacker. My apologies, dear readers. While I wouldn't be so arrogant (or delusional) as to assume you hang on my every word, I do know that a few loyal souls check this space regularly. And frequently. So allow me to atone for my sins and write some nuggets of brilliance.

Or something.

First and foremost, a terrible fate has befallen me! This is a tragedy of gargantuan proportions. A turn of events so dismal, I don't know how I'll muddle through! (Gosh, am I dramatic or what? Clearly, I never should have quit acting.) What is causing my consternation, you may ask? Well. Rosa has told me that she won't be able to play music for a while due to work commitments. That's right, I temporarily have lost my open mic partner.

What's an aspiring chanteuse to do?

Well, it is with a heavy heart that I have begun looking for a new guitarist. Worry not, the Sub Rosas are still very much together and will play again, but I need to keep my singing going and my voice in shape. So I've been putting out feelers for any musicians willing to play 60's pop and 80's new wave/pop music. I have a few leads already, but it won't be the same as the Rosa-Melissa musical domination combo. Ah, well.

However, I will be able to console myself quite handily at my new favorite place in the world: the Burke Williams Spa. Burke Williams is the most luxurious spa I have ever been to in my life. I went there last Thursday, and I will never be the same. In a good way. This place takes pampering to a level I imagine as reserved for royalty. I have frequented the same spa for the last six years, but Burke Williams may have stolen my heart. What can I say? Loyalty only goes so far when it comes to relaxation.

That's about all from here. I'm annoyed about something happening at work right now, but I'm aware that perhaps I'm being a little unreasonable. But not really. But kind of. But not really. You can see how this situation is sitting in my brain. Imagine what a restful night's sleep I'm going to get tonight.