Category Archives: Writing

What Is the Click Hole of Darkness?

imageEveryone has dreams. Everyone has a pancake they wish they could turn perfectly, or a pushup they wish they could do while clapping.

It’s human, the ability to project onto a future self and say, “That person will be able to do something that I cannot.” Or the ability to project onto the current self and say, “Me, I am capable of doing this thing that feels really freaking impossible, but I can do it.”

But that’s on a good day, when the sun is shining, when an old friend called, when you went out for a run and pushed yourself harder than usual and it felt good to sweat goddammit. That’s the good day.

But there’s something else everyone has. It’s the darkness, the voice that says, “You cannot,” the voice that says you will never be great.

It says that you are not good enough, that the very idea of striving is ridiculous, that mediocrity and unhappiness is your destiny, and that yes, everyone else is succeeding except for you. This voice is always there, but sometimes it’s overpowered by the beams of positivity radiating from your brain chemicals.

But on the rainy days, the days when no one gets back to you, when you feel alone, tired and sick, when your goals loom ahead of you like a cliff and the idea of getting out of bed to wash a dish feels as impossible as parting the San Francisco Bay, this is the moment of your personal darkness.

The most insidious thing about this darkness is the way it works in the silence and the corners of your mind, never voiced out loud but slowly eating away at your will.

This is why I created clickholeofdarkness.tumblr.com. It is the place my negative thoughts go. Instead of pushing them out of mind, I push them to the forefront and magnify them by orders of 10, 20 and 30 just to see how ridiculous they are and how self-defeating it is to listen to them.

Clickholeofdarkness.tumblr.com is where they go to be made fun of in the full light of God and the internet and the God of the internet, and beneath that spotlight, the thoughts die for the day. Sure, they may resurge on another day in a different form, but I will not fight them lying down. I will fight them sitting up and with a keyboard, for this is my sword, this is my battle, and this is my war to win.

Back to your hole, darkness.

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Hey, My Weekend was Great. Thanks for Asking.

Ask about my weekend. I dare you.

Ask about my weekend. I dare you.

Hey, thanks for asking how my weekend was. I appreciate you thinking of me on a Monday morning when we’re all desperately crowding around the coffee like bison around a watering hole in a dusty, dry summer. I’m going to choose to believe that your question was sincere and not just a way to distract me so you could take the second-to-last cup of coffee and avoid having to make another pot. So, thanks again. It was great.

Oh, you want to hear about something cool that I did. Oh great. I did tons of cool stuff that I can tell you about and I’d love to do that right now. I’d love for you to know every single thing that I did this weekend just so you can know how cool and relaxing and fulfilling my life is and how it completely validates everything I do at this office for 50 hours a week.

Oh, what did I do? Great. I’m so glad you asked for details. I’d love to tell you all the things that I did, so I’ll go ahead and do that now I guess.

On Friday I went home at 8:30 after going to happy hour where I tried a drink that was hot pink and tasted like a scream. I got home and tried to watch an episode of Arrested Development but IT WOULDN’T LOAD. So like a baller I wrote in my journal by candlelight for a little bit before going to bed at 9:20.

But get this, on Saturday I woke up before dawn and did a whole morning of vision-casting, trying to figure out what to do with my life. I created mad google docs and made sure to update my mint.com account with my recent cash purchase of coffee ($2.00) and answer any personal emails from the week. I pounded down some peanut butter oatmeal and a calcium chew and futzed around before taking a leisurely walk around Stowe Lake where I saw a couple making out.

But wait, it gets better. On Saturday night, I did things with my friends – like eat food and see a show. And on Sunday, I slept in until 8 am and took a freaking walk in the park and talked to my sister who I love and then I went to West Oakland where I bought 8 candles and did improv and then came back and made a mother flipping lentil dish before going to eat dinner with a friend.

So are you happy now? Are you happy now that you know every detail of my weekend? Do you feel like you know me better? Do you think what I did was cool? Because it wasn’t. Nothing of what I did was cool, and it never will be. BECAUSE MY WEEKEND WAS JUST LIKE YOURS. WE DID THE EXACT SAME STUFF AND WE HUNG OUT WITH FRIENDS AND ATE FOOD AND OUR LIVES ARE NOT INTERESTING.

So thanks for asking how my weekend was. How was yours?

P.S. What’s the deal with mayonnaise. Why does everyone hate it?

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The Weird, Offbeat and Wonderful Breakfasts in San Francisco

I ate breakfast at 78 different places in the Bay Area last year.* I’ve written about the best of them and the worst of them, but there are some that deserve to be mentioned for other reasons, ones with some special sauce. Check it out.

Wolfe's Lunch

Wolfe’s Lunch

Most Surreal

Wolfe’s Lunch – Portrero Hill – $

I ate at Wolfe’s Lunch – a name that sounds like something out of a Grimm fairy tale – on a day when the sky was a gunmetal gray and the restaurant was completely empty. I got my coffee, pancakes, eggs, meat and potatoes for less than $10. When my food was ready, the woman at the counter used a microphone to call me to the counter which was about 10 feet away. I obeyed the voice and retrieved my breakfast, which I ate while staring at the sky and noting that this part of town is very boxy. It was one of those days where reality seemed a little thinner than others.

Best Hidden Treasure
Bechelli’s Flower Market – $$ – SoMa

In this part of SoMa, the streets are lined with old warehouses and car shops. It’s not especially beautiful unless you’re into that sort of thing. I thought Bechelli’s Flower Market was just a cute name to attract patrons in this industrial area of town, but sure enough fresh flowers adorned every table. The food was good and right on par with expectations. On a whim, I exited out the back way and discovered an alley lined with flower shops – pinks and reds and oranges bursting into the street – and the name of the cafe made more sense.

Oldest Head Cook
Olympic Flame Cafe – Tenderloin – $ 

The day I ate here was the day a 90-yr-old Greek man made my breakfast. Despite the terrible reviews on Yelp, I loved this place, which goes to show that most people on the internet don’t know what I like.

Credit: Afar Media

It’s Tops

Most Dream-Like
It’s Tops Coffee Shop – Mission – $$ 

I wandered here in a dense angst haze after barely making it through the Upper Market area alive, assaulted on all sides by the worst of what people can become due to illness, abuse, and life on the streets. I walked into It’s Tops and felt like I was back in a perfect version of my childhood, wood walls and cozy booths and I sat down and ordered a breakfast feast to take away the pain of not knowing what I was doing or where I was going in life or how to get what I wanted. I ordered everything to help that pain go away and sat in a time capsule for a little bit while the world raged on outside. It was delicious.

Best Breakfast for a Sailor
Red’s Java House – Embarcadero / SoMa – $ 

An outpost of a time gone by, built out of cinderblocks and plywood and clinging to the pier while glassy office buildings rise up around it – Red’s is somewhere you can let your hair down and talk shop about how to get them ropes on your ship working properly. I got pancakes and other stuff and sat and looked out at the street and the water. They said I could come back for refills of coffee all day if I wanted to. I didn’t take them up on it, but maybe next time. Maybe next time.

Best story
Toast Eatery – Noe Valley – $ 

The food here was average, but as I was walking to BART after eating I saw two men carrying a mattress. One of them was very tall and this information was filed somewhere in my brain. But mostly I forgot all about this and months later, I’m going to get a drink at an event called Nerd Nite, and I see someone who’s very tall and we make eye contact and he says “You look familiar…” and I say “You look familiar!” And so we dig through our activities and where we live and our connections and he mentions he lives in Noe Valley and then it hits me, “Wait, were you recently moving a mattress on the street?

As it turns out, we didn’t know each other at all but had merely seen one another on the street early on a Friday morning. San Francisco is so small.

bashful-bull-tooMost heart and soul

The Bashful Bull Too – Parkside – $ 

This place is run by people who are not of midwestern descent, but they have made this restaurant into a veritable paragon of everything most midwestern eateries wish they could be. The amount of love they have for Americana of old is enough to grant them the Heart and Soul award plus the fact they have a dish that includes: hashbrowns, eggs, bacon, ham, sausage, biscuits + gravy and pancakes. Amen, hallelujah and praise the Lord.

*Full list here: Breakfasts in the Bay Area

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The Worst and Most Awkward Breakfast and Brunch in San Francisco


complicated_breakfast

I ate breakfast at 78 different places in the Bay Area last year.* Want to know what memories have been seared onto my brain lobes due to horror, disaster or sheer awkwardity? Read on.

Most Awkward

Mel’s Drive-in – multiple locations (I was in the SOMA one) – $$
Shockingly, the food was not terrible here, but my experience was overshadowed by a language barrier incident. The Italian (or possibly Brazilian) man sitting five feet away from me was trying to order and spoke almost no English. He pointed at the menu and asked for an omelette. Then this happened:

Waitress: What kind of cheese do you want?

Man: Omelette – yes I want omelette.

Waitress: But what kind of cheese?

Man: (points at the menu) Omelette, yes!

Waitress (slowly, like he is willfully misunderstanding her): We have American, Cheddar and Swiss.

Man: Yes! (now agitated, getting hungrier and more embarrassed)

Waitress: (emphasizing each word) But – what – kind – of – cheese – do – you – want?

Man: YES, Omelette please! (on the brink of despair)

Waitress: What — kind — of — cheese — American — Cheddar — or — Swiss?

Man: (pointing emphatically at the menu, getting ready to curse America and everything it stands for): YES!

Me: (embarrassed, indignant and uncomfortable) Just choose for him!

Waitress (looks at me questioningly and raises her eyebrows): Okay, guess I’m going to have to do everything for this one. (pauses) What kind of toast do you want?

Me: (falling over dead)

Waitress: I guess he’ll just do sourdough.

Most Disappointing
Rose’s Cafe – The Marina – $$

Put simply, this place sucked. The food was overpriced but average, and even tasted as smarmy as the service. Only come here if your yacht’s broken down and you can’t escape. Rose’s Cafe, you can suck a lemon.

Unfriendliest

Cafe de la Presse – Union Square – $$ 

I’d been wanting to come to this place for a while because it looked fancy and shiny and pretty. So I was excited about eating here, but it ended up sucking, so that sucked. I sat down near a window that happened to be open. Keep in mind that this is the morning in San Francisco where the air feels like a damp fridge. I was cold so I asked them to shut it and the waiter sighed and went to close it while he told me, “Ma’am, we are trying to cool down the restaurant,” like I was the dumbest person in the world. He left a crack open.

Most Forgettable

I wrote down the name of this restaurant as “The other place in Burlington.” The only other note I have about this is that it was “forgettable.”

Worst Smelling

Munch Haven – Civic Center – $ 

While the first thing you might notice about this place is the questionable name, the second thing you’ll notice will undoubtably be the smell – something like egg grease, cigarette smoke and dirty shirts. On the plus side, there were pictures of styles of egg dishes (fried, scrambled, sunnyside up, etc.) as well as the different kinds of cheese you could order. This is probably very useful for people who don’t speak English (see note on Mel’s).

Really?Most continually disappointing yet bafflingly popular restaurant

The Grove – multiple locations – $$

This restaurant will woo you with its fine appearance and tasteful furnishings. It says all the right things and makes you feel special and you’re optimistic that things will work out. Then, on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd date, it ditches you in the middle of a meal, sticks you with the bill and you find out later it stole your wallet, phone or passport. And the meal wasn’t that good either. Stop dating this guy. No fourth date.

Saddest
Joanie’s Happy Days Diner – Fisherman’s Wharf – $$

Happy days had turned into sad mornings the Friday I visited this restaurant. I remember the sound of the fridge humming, the television turned to Channel 6 news, fluorescent lighting and a mysterious sense of guilt. Maybe some more patrons would have made me feel less lonely. Was it my fault for visiting at 7 am, right when it opened? I think not.

Runner-up: Chestnut Diner – Marina/Cow Hollow – $

*Full list of breakfast places here: 78 Breakfasts in the Bay Area

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Why I Ate 78 Breakfasts at 78 Different Places Last Year

A coffee cup I drew

A coffee cup I drew

I hereby declare that I have done it. For one year (from 1.11.2013 – 1.17.2014), I ate breakfast at a different Bay Area restaurant every Friday before work and on some weekends. I achieved both my written goal of eating breakfast at a different place every Friday and my actual goal of simply eating tons and tons of breakfast.

I went to the furthest reaches of San Francisco and the Bay Area, from the Marina to Glen Park, from Santa Rosa to Santa Clara. I traveled 441.7 miles by bus, car and train to 78 different places of breakfast-eating, consuming $1258 dollars worth of food, 131 eggs, 90 slices of bacon, 98 pancakes, and 234 cups of coffee. I also drew one coffee cup.

This is all well and good. I managed to spend a lot of money and eat many hash browns with my butt in many different styles of chairs and booths, but so what? Why did I do this? Why did I wake up so early and go so far, not even searching for the best food or service? Why did I spend so many hours and dollars on this project and persevere even towards the end when I’d eaten my breakfast passion into the dust (for the time being) and felt I’d seen everything and that I just wanted to sleep in for once.

It wasn’t just a meal, or just a restaurant. Breakfast for me was outer space. It was my Sahara and my Antarctica and the Wild West, the region I was destined to explore and chronicle. 

Pork Store Cafe BiscuitsAnd I wanted to find breakfast, to seek it in its natural habitat, to consume and know it inside and out and to know its people. From the crust of a sourdough loaf to the tenderness of a scrambled egg and the crisp release of grease that comes from biting into a perfectly cooked hash brown.

I wanted to make a portrait of a ritual and to examine it until I knew its every detail and their meanings, to paint a complete picture of breakfast, to tell its entire story and not miss a thing, to climb hills and descend into valleys, to walk on darkened doorsteps and to step into empty places, to look into the faces of strangers and try to place them, to ask of them to serve me food in exchange for money and some of my time and for some of my thoughts and skin cells and saliva left on the used silverware.

But most of all, I set out to eat, to consume mountains of hashbrowns and toast and eggs, stacks of pancakes, whole sticks of butter and gallons of syrup. I wanted to explore using my senses and let my brain take a back seat and just shut up for a second.

Friday morning was mine and it was special. Every morning that I got to work with my stomach full of breakfast and another journey under my belt, I’d squeezed a little extra life into my day. It was my secret, that before I started doing work for anyone else, I’d done something for me and my goals. I wanted adventure, and that’s why I did it and have lived to tell the tale. What’s next? I don’t know. But it’s gonna be epic.

By the way, this is not the last you’ve heard of this. There is much, much more breakfast to be served.

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