It's time I break the news. Drumroll, please! There. Shh.

I found a place to live in San Francisco. I'm moving on Sunday to a flat on Haight Street. The building is 100+ years old and the apartment is nestled above a record store. There are 3 friendly flatmates, and my room has pretty blue walls, a window, and a closet. What more could a girl want?

So, friends and loyal readers -- here, as they say, goes nothin'. I'll be sure to let you know how it all turns out.

*Beautiful (and inspiring) print found at the Etsy shop of Jessica Swift. If you want to see many, many more beautiful things (or buy me a Christmas present), go and have a visit.


The most fun you can have with your trousers on

What is...The 32nd Annual Great Dickens Christmas Fair & Victorian Holiday Party?

Yeah, I went there. With my mom. And it was -- you guessed it -- awesome. It's at the Cow Palace for the next 3 weekends and I'd recommend going if you fancy a little "magic, mirth and mystery," being wished a Happy Christmas! by everyone you see, and herds of people dressed up exactly like this:

We feasted on hot cider, meat pies, Turkish coffee, shortbread, sausage rolls, copper ale, and butterscotch candies all while scanning the crowd for the likes of Oliver Twist, Fagin, Dickens himself, and my personal favorite, Uriah HEEP! I recently finished reading David Copperfield and I was simply tickled when that devilish Heep walked by slowly, his hands hanging limply folded at his chest, his back slightly hunched, whatever current evil scheme no doubt hatching in his twisted sweaty head.

We also enjoyed a number of performances including but not limited to some Scottish and Irish dancing (HELLO kilts!) at Mr. & Mrs. Fezziwig's dance party.

My, how this fellow could leap..

Also, a performance of The Mikado during which I may have fallen asleep if it weren't for the quite authentic-looking Victorian gentleman at the end of my row who kept chuckling heartily and shouting "Here here!" in a thick British accent. When the play ended, the gentleman deemed it the most fun you can have with your trousers on. And by jove, he was right! Speaking of trousers, we also saw The Saucy French Postcards Tableaux Revue featuring...live nudes! Yep, nudes. It was racy, and there was a man with an eye-patch patrolling the aisles for cameras.

Actual beggar children. I don't know where they got them.

Some of you may not have known what a huge geek I am, but there you have it. Don't ever tell me I wasn't open with you. If you want the whole truth, this is actually my second year in a row as a visitor to the Cow Palace's London. I remember thinking last year it was something fun to do once, but somehow, I couldn't stay away.

I even imagined a romantic scenario (something I do a little too much lately... time to up the social life!), in which I meet and fall in love with a hot man in character and a tailcoat, perhaps with those giant sideburns indicative of the time. We'd have a great story to tell our friends -- we'd pretend to be embarrassed about having met at the Dickens Fair, but we'd keep going back year after year. I'd dress up like a proper lady with feathers in my hair and we'd stroll through the foggy streets of London, arm in arm.


Hey, thanks!

Well, everyone, I hope you had a super lovely Thanksgiving. As heartwarming as this American holiday is, the funny thing is that the best word I can think to describe it is gezellig, a Dutch word that we have no translation for. It means... cozy, warm, friendly, homey, inviting, fun, etc. Any number of tasty English adjectives the combination of which doesn't even cut it.

Here's what some of our gezellig looked like yesterday (not pictured: a rousing game of Jenga, stimulating table conversation, catching a yellow jacket in a mason jar, and a family trip to see Disney's new Tangled):

The short list of what I'm thankful for? My family, obv. They're nice to me even when I'm a horrible little brat (yeah, that still happens), and every day I can't believe how lucky I am that I have parents who understand, and siblings who I can call best friends. Oh, and the most beautiful little niece you ever did see.

Now it's time to set our sights on Christmas! I'm at home getting inspired by handmade goodness rather than out with the terrifying masses on Black Friday. I mean, who wants to participate in something with a name like that? It sounds like the plague. But instead of locusts, shoppers.

This, however -- this is little more like it.


32 Years

I have given my parents almost no anniversary cards over the years. Certainly no gifts or parties. I think once or twice I've sent an email congratulating them and saying... ya know, thanks? It was never really on our radar as kids, just something that was maybe mentioned around Thanksgiving every year -- my dad coming home with a card from the drugstore that he'd sign in a burst of emotion and present triumphantly to my mom, wanting simply to tell her he's glad she's here, glad she's always been here. We'd hear him say "Happy anniversary, Dear" -- and they'd hold each other close in our old kitchen while we, the fruits of their lasting marriage, focused on whatever else there was.

That's, at least, what I noticed. As most kids raised in nuclear families, we took the fact that they were still married, that they had ever gotten married, for granted. The idea that they had ever not known each other, had ever been anything other than our parents, a single unit, seems in my mind to have been nonexistent. Immaterial. Blank. There they were, and to change it would be to change the earth's orbit. To change it would be to change gravity.

Last weekend, my parents bought a motor home for little trips, particularly down to LA to visit their grandbaby. It's small, somewhat of an antique, let's say, but it's cozy and it's right. My dad brought me out in the cold last night to give me the grand tour (all 21 feet worth). We reached the back and I realized the toilet is there, out in the open as though the whole thing is one giant bathroom that happens to also have a table, sink and bed in it.

"Isn't there a door?" I asked. My dad slid said 'door' out from inside the wall -- it's really nothing more than a thin sheet of paper that doesn't even reach all the way across the opening. Surely, I suggested, one person would have to leave while the other person.. you know. My dad threw his hands up in the air and said loudly, his face incredulous, "We've been married 32 years! You close the door and what happens, happens."

This, I think, is marriage. At least, it's my parents' marriage. What I know is you can't stay bound to a person for 32 years without being able to let what happens, happen.

Last night, my dad did the same thing he's done many times before -- he ran out and bought a lovely card and bouquet of flowers, laid on the sweetness when my mom came home and when he said "Happy anniversary, Dear" there was a brief moment of confusion when it became clear that my dad had the date wrong. "Thanksgiving threw me off!" he said. This year their anniversary, November 25th, falls on Thanksgiving day and that just didn't sound right to him, so in his mind, the 24th it became. An honest mistake, really.

We all had a laugh, but in the end it's not really about the anniversary of a little wedding that happened a long time ago, it's about every single moment since.

 Happy anniversary!


Ain't nothin' Ron with that.

I don't know where this came from, these heroic hipster wizards and witch. The chosen one, The Boy who Lived in old man shoes and skinny jeans. I found it on Facebook and I normally wouldn't share something I can't credit, but I just couldn't pass it up. It makes me want to see the famous trio in any number of other themed ensembles: Olympic gymnasts, perhaps, '90s grunge, Target employees? What I'm saying is that I love them and I'd love them in any variety. Particularly (and I don't want to make any of you uncomfortable here), Ron's bulge in those pants. I mean, have you seen ol' Rupert lately? Our squeaky Ron Weasley has become, oh yes! a man.
Boy's beefed up, eh? Now if you'll excuse me, it's almost 8:30pm so it's time I get in bed with book 7 and fall asleep with a certain ginger on my mind.


Some pretty I found in Colorado

This? This is my parents, looking up at the little mountain cabin that was their first home together, over 30 years ago.

Friday Night Whine Fest; Or, Trainspiration

Have I told you that my commute is approximately 1.5 hours door to door? It's likely you've been made privy to this thrilling information because it seems like I can talk of nothing else. It's unlikely you've heard because oh, right, I never post.

My sorry excuse is that working+commuting+sleeping is not the perfect formula for inspiration or creativity. I may be inspired to, say, elbow somebody on the train in the teeth for letting their mouth hang open to release -- like rot in a tupperware long-forgotten in the back of the fridge -- their clammy, oven-baked morning breath. Don't they know the train is an enclosed, poorly ventilated can in which the air does not filter but rather hangs in thick sickly clouds of stench? Don't they know they have nostrils? Don't they know I have nostrils?

I may be inspired to squeeze tears out my bloodshot, I-woke-up-at-5:30am eyes. Tears my nose pushes up in protest of being too near what can only be described as sweaty human body crevices. (A phrase thinked up by none other than my brilliantly scornful sister). Tears of self-pity too for, well, obvious reasons.

I may be inspired to bow my head in resignation and trace my eyes over word after word on pages of worlds that are not a bleak screaming train with stained blue upholstery. Worlds that are light and open and make me feel like I'm breathing something more than oxygen.

I may be inspired to let myself have music, to surrender to, say, Arcade Fire the whole hour. To let my brain lift and dissolve into nothing but stars and clapping and harmony and orchestra. To look out the window and open myself up to the lights, to the world outside the train. I may be inspired to see that the great looming machinery, the many metal shades of gray and brown, the plumes of thick smoke twisting like flower stems into the sky -- that with the right music in my head, it's beautiful. (I'm telling you - listen to Arcade Fire.)

I may be inspired to stare at the heads and shoulders, the clenched jaws and watching eyes, the people who wait. Every day. Just, wait. Like this train ride is a pause, a time when the world moves, but they are still. Still and surrounded by hundreds of others squished in next to them, just trying to live. I may be inspired to hold my breath and thank the sky that I am mixed in with humanity, right where I want to be.

But am I ever inspired to write? Not so much.


Her Talks

Earlier this month I spent three days in Colorado visiting enough relatives to populate a small village. My mother is one of eight children: five sisters, three brothers. Now, the great thing about these eight is that they're all wonderfully clever. The perhaps less great thing is that they all know it. Don't get me wrong; they're a very fun bunch and there's always lots of laughter, but things reach a competitive level that leaves some of us caught in a crossfire, innocent bystanders in a repartee bombardment. It's like a perpetual game of hot potato, the potato being regular, joke-free conversation.

One of my aunts in particular, however, is quieter than all the rest. While her wit is sharp, she seems to keep it mostly to herself (or at least her immediate neighbor). I made this observation to her, wondering how she could have possibly ended up this way, so remarkably mild-mannered in a joke-eat-joke family. She hmm'd on that for a moment and suggested perhaps it was a result of being the third born and never having to speak for herself as a little kid because her two older siblings did all the talking for her. "Her's hungry," they'd say. "Her wants more spaghetti."

One day, as the story goes, the silent child spoke. I don't remember what she said, but the two older siblings ran into the house eagerly reporting, "Her talks! Her talks!" Now, let me just say that I don't know exactly how old these two were at the time... but somehow everyone overcame the apparent yokel vernacular and they've all grown up to be not only jokesters, but writers and, you might say, wordsmiths. In fact, "her" went on to recently place 5th in the AARP's National Spelling Bee (who knew there was such a thing?). As it turns out, her spells.

I sat with my thoughts this evening on my commute home, my mind coming to rest on this family that I love but have never known all that well. My aunts and uncles -- never the prominent figures in my life that they might have been had we lived nearby -- I've now begun to see as more than just relatives I've always known were there. Just, there.

I know that these faces have been present from my earliest moments, that their steady love has followed me patiently over the years. And I now know more than I once did that the love they carry with them through the world, the words they spell, sentences they string together and jokes they lob into the air, that all of it truly is somehow a part of me. Somehow woven into my bones and skin, into my own words and sentences, my own stories. I've long felt that a blood or familial relation does not mean a relationship, but I've come to believe more and more that it does mean, unmistakably, a piece of my identity.

Identity. I-D-E-N-T-I-T-Y. Identity.



Since today is November 1st and a crunchy new fall has officially begun, I'm going to introduce a personal challenge for this month.
Hold on, what? You mean it's not November 1st?! You're saying an entire week has gone by without my knowledge?

Well, crap. That's going to make this goal I'm setting much more difficult to meet. You see, I've become a real slacker in the blog-posting department. I mean, four for October? Pathetic. In the short lifespan of this blog the best I've done is a measly 10 in one month! So I've decided to set the bar just a touch higher and shoot for 11 in this 11th month of the year. That can't be so hard, right? I thought about promising myself some kind of prize if I make it, but I'm thinking that escaping the shame I'm sure to suffer by failing in the eyes of my beloved readers (that's you) will be reward enough. It's a good thing I'm getting an early start on the month instead of putting it off a whole week to do even the first post! Or, wait...

Anyway, I'm going to kick things off in triumph by drawing all ya'll's attention to what I find to be a delightful coincidence. Remember back in July when Holland won game after game and made it to the World Cup finals? I was there with a country full of pride and glowing orange. Pride for a team of underdogs that should not have gotten that far. Pride before it all, and pride after. I watched the games among the Amsterdam thousands, a tiny drop in an orange everything.

And then last Wednesday, where do I find myself? Crowded among orange-clad masses once again along Montgomery Street in Downtown San Francisco as the Giants, a victorious pack of misfits (and certainly underdogs), rolled by in cable cars to the hoots and screams of their enamored fans -- and may I say, seeing that beard in person was, in a word, exhilarating.
I mean, look at that guy.
While I was admittedly far more emotionally invested in the World Cup than the World Series (and maintain that the US has nothing truly like the national unity and spirit that other countries know in the World Cup), I still find it funny that in a span of four months I happened to find myself in these two cities as they cheered on their champions in orange.

So on that note, dear readers, I hope you'll be cheering me on (and, of course, reading) as I use these last three weeks of November to post my way to victory. One down, 10 to go. The odds are against me, but I just might pull ahead.

How does a parade sound to you all?