Tag Archives: weather

I’m Back in San Francisco. Guess I Better Find My Jacket.

Found it!

Found it!

50 days and 6,000 miles (ish) later, I’m back in San Francisco and wearing a sweatshirt. I’m not going to try to do one of those here’s-all-the-crap-I-learned-while-I-was-traveling blog posts so don’t get your hopes up. That’ll come later this week.

While I was on the plane from Denver, stuck in a special non-reclining torture chair, I kept on thinking about what it would be like to touch down in this city and reenter life as I left it, but with some profound differences. In all my imaginings, I saw a beautiful sunset, delicious frozen yogurt and a clear night sky.

I get into town and of course (duh duh duh duh duh) it’s foggy as all hell, I get Indian food instead of froyo because I’m craving hot food after a day of exclusively eating Cliff Bars, and I remember I don’t have a towel so I’ll have to air dry tomorrow morning before I can go to Target to get one. Yippee.

On the bright side (and there is a very bright side), I don’t have to go into a job I don’t care about, I have Indian leftovers for lunch, and I get to wear an outfit that I haven’t already worn 30 times this summer. Yes, there is much to be thankful for, even in the fog.

So goodbye, brick houses and warm summer nights. Goodbye styrofoam and mosquitoes. Goodbye short sleeve shirts and sandals. Hello San Francisco.

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20 Pieces of Advice for My Sister’s Trip to San Francisco

We're going to paint the town.

We’re going to paint the town.

Dear Sister,

I’m so excited that you’re coming to visit me in San Francisco for Christmas, that you’re leaving parents and home far behind in Oklahoma and venturing out to the West Coast, a journey our ancestors and great-uncle made and one that it is now your turn to make. Welcome to this state. There are some things you should know to make the most out of your time here.

1. You will always feel like you’re doing something wrong as you ride public transportation. It’s as unavoidable as congealed gravy after a holiday meal.

2. Bring every kind of clothing you have. Because of witchcraft or something similar, the temperature varies wildly from day to night and from shade to sun. I use the handy phrase “sun-hot; shade-cool” to remember which one is which.

3. Bring cash; some places will not accept your plastic. These places will often have tasty pastries.

4. Most born and raised Californians know nothing about Oklahoma aside from either the bombing or the musical. Because of their ignorance, they will lash out and make fun of your native state. Don’t let it get to you.

5. Half shirts are a thing, as are sheer wispy shirts, all manner of hats and anything with a mustache on it.

6. Strangers might talk to you, and it’s not always a bad thing. Feel it out, and respond if it seems appropriate. If someone says “Good morning” to you, they’re probably being friendly. If they say, “Damn girl, you healthy. Them organic goods?” while you’re carrying groceries, you’re probably in Oakland.*

7. Green bins are for compost, black are for trash, and blue are for recycling. Don’t let anyone see you throw away something that can be recycled.

8. Leave your Styrofoam at home and bring a bag to the grocery store.

9. That weird smell is either dog urine or marijuana. It could also be people urine, if we’re downtown.

10. That delicious meaty smell is either coming from Hahn’s Hibachi or Yellow Sub. I’m never sure which one.

11. This city is full of stores selling things no one should ever purchase, like $40 bowls and many whimsical variations on the salt and pepper shaker. That being said, it’s all beautiful and you will want to purchase something. Don’t spend all your money at the first place.

12. No one knows what to do about the homeless people, so mostly we just ignore them. I’d like to find a better way to handle this but I’m not sure what it is.

13. This place is mind-numbingly beautiful and everyone who gets to live here is lucky. Don’t forget that where you come from is also lovely.

14. Avoid the Tenderloin and Upper Market area – no reason for you to dabble in those neighborhoods yet. You can tell you’re in the T-Loin from the missing teeth to broken glass to face tattoo ratio.

15. Don’t waste your time on bad food.

16. Climb every hill you see. You won’t regret it.

17. Buy me a present while I’m working. I’ve earned it.

18. Don’t be ashamed of being a tourist. It’s what you are and you don’t have to hide from any one.

19. Everyone does and doesn’t look the same. You’ll see what I mean. Most people are attractive in a “I’m going places” or “I’m unique” or “I took time to dress myself this morning” or “my clothes are expensive” kind of way.

20. Have fun! (and buy me a present)

*This was said to me once in Oakland.

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Weather: The Forbidden Topic

I read once that an author should never start a book with the weather. I don’t remember who said this. It was in the context of a Guardian article in which writers shared their wisdom on writing, and this particular author (I believe it was a woman) mentioned one exception, that there was an author that was allowed to start a book with the weather  (I believe it was a man). The reason I bring this up is because I want to talk about the weather but couldn’t lead with it, so instead I introduced the whole topic of weather-discussion through the very fact it is forbidden at the beginning of a work, such as a blog post.

Let’s start in San Francisco, where I’m looking out the window through the gaps between the blinds. I can’t see much, but what I do see is shades of grey and raindrops, but it’s not sensual. It’s cold and I want to get back into bed and see how many months I can sleep.

If I were the heroine of a romantic novel, I would probably choose this time to go wandering the streets in inappropriate footwear. If I were a detective in an action movie, I’d smoke a cigarette on the street corner somewhere and remember an afternoon all dappled in sunlight in my life before I started police work and got caught bum-deep in the grime of the city. Part of me wishes I had stayed in the sun, but the other knows I didn’t have a choice. I take one last drag on the cigarette and toss it to the ground, waiting to hear the “tssss” of the embers dying in the water.

My real character sits in the mostly dark of her room and types, looking out the slats of the blind occasionally and piecing together the world behind it. The day is October 22, 2012. The rain falls harder outside. Next week is Halloween and a celebration of all kinds of things the administrators of my elementary school found frightening enough to have a night at the gym called “Hallelujah Night” to counteract it. I don’t think it worked, considering many of those students later wound up as pimps and ho’s at frat parties, the dressing-up itch still unscratched. And now they’re deciding who they will be all over again.

North of here, maybe it’s sunny. South of here, it’s definitely sunny. In the lumpy parts of the United States, snow is already falling. As people are leaving their houses all across America, some grab umbrellas, rain boots, down jackets, wind jackets, suit coats, water bottles, brown-bag lunches, and keys. They pat the dog, kiss the loved one, and get in the car, run to the bus, or hop on the bike. It might be wet, dry, hot, cool, leafy, humid, gray, or bright on the outside. Maybe they wish it was a different way, but that doesn’t change what they have to do, unless we’re talking about chalk artists or hot air balloonists.

Now comes the time for some great metaphor about the weather, or better yet, a simile. I’ll say, “The weather is like a hot dog, but you don’t always have to enjoy eating it when the bun is soggy.” You can unpack that statement, or move onto the next one which is this: soon I have to leave to get on the train and go to work, where I’ll probably sing to an 18 mo-old. I’m going to read a book on the train and I’m looking forward to that, despite the weather. I hope you have something you’re looking forward to today as well.

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Miracles of Midwestern Cooking

Dinner’s ready! Bring your Lipitor.

People on the coasts often have no idea how to categorize 60% of the states between New York and California, so they do what they can with the terms West, Midwest, and Southern.

As a result, Oklahoma is often incorrectly lumped in with Midwestern states, a classification that makes sense geographically but not culturally. When I hear Midwest, I think of Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, etc., places that don’t have the hard-working prairie ethic instilled in them from their mothers’ breast milk as we do in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska.

I prefer to call my region the Central Plains, but for the purposes of this blog series, I will accommodate the ignorance of outsiders and call these great states part of the Midwest.

Imagine a people sprawled under a sky that scorches them in the summer and dumps snow and ice on them during the winter. In the spring, tornadoes and hail demolish homes and crops. There is no mercy: you will farm or become food for the farm.

Because fresh vegetables wither in all seasons (to be explained later), and dairy and carbs must pull up the slack. Bacon grease is a health supplement. People die at the age of 60, but they die having eaten egg yolks and butter their entire life. Healthy eating is a foreign imposition by people on the coasts, and God bless America.*

What kind of food do these people eat? What flavors, textures, and cooking methods typify their everyday noshes? How can they survive the blazing summers and bone-cracking winters?

The people of the Central Plains are ingenious. They have invented a cuisine that not only allowed them to deal with their harsh surroundings, but took the cooking out of cooking altogether. From the Midwest come an astonishing variety of casseroles, truly unique takes on the salad, and all different kinds of ways to prepare, texture, and name a meatloaf. For this reason, the Midwest is known for its incredible cuisine. When people from other countries and the coasts imagine the great gap between D.C. and L.A., they inevitably think of the mouth-watering food that has made itself known across the world for its creativity, flavor, and health-benefits.

Cities like New York, Atlanta, Boston, San Francisco, and Portland are overrun with restaurants serving up hot casserole dishes and dinner rolls to eager clientele, and top chefs hail cream of chicken soup as a miracle liquid revealed by the Almighty.

For the next couple of posts, I will be talking about this wonderful cuisine, aided by two cookbooks that my mother recently gave me. Stay tuned next week to learn about the Midwestern casserole, the salad experience in the Midwest, and culinary highlights of Midwestern cookery. It’s sure to be an enlightening journey.

*Do I have “science” to back up these claims. No. But I have been to family reunions.

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An Automated Response to the Rainfall

visual evidence of what may have been the end

Alert. Alert.

This is an automated message addressing the near-apocalypse that occurred last night in Cairo, Egypt from approximately 17:30 to 20:30 pm.

What could have been the end of the world took the form of a heavy rain descending upon Egypt’s capital. The moisture falling from the sky proceeded to form large lakes and puddles on every uncovered surface in the greater metropolitan area due to a complete lack of street drains. Thankfully, the inconveniently tall sidewalks were still of no use since they are pocked with various pits and sudden changes in height and existence.

As the night progressed, the (temporary) bodies of water became foamy, a result of both the physical movement of cars and the multiple chemical reactions going on between the various air and ground pollutants that include but are not limited to: soap, animal feces, garbage, and car exhaust. This foam can and will be used by the Egyptian government as a new form of riot control.

Though the streets have suffered considerable damage from the acidic mixture eating away at the concrete and asphalt, their physical appearance is almost indistinguishable from what it was before the quasi-Armageddon and the new potholes will likely go unnoticed.

Mild panic reigned over much of the populace during the moisture-time, resulting from an inability to identify the bizarre tapping sound that pervaded Cairo’s various boroughs. Once the sound and the substance causing it were identified, the panic was replaced with a sense of bewilderment, wonder, and hunger as entire families gathered round to watch the sky water drip down the sides of buildings and make the streets unusable.

Though Cairo’s streets were predicted to bloom today as the result of this rare rain, it appears the only thing blooming this year is Egypt’s democracy, and even that has a chance of getting stuck in the chemical muck left behind on both major and minor thoroughfares.

In response to the widespread fear that such a scathing indictment of the quality of the roads and sidewalks will cause the government to respond, an official has reassured the populace that, as in the past, nothing will be done to change the infrastructure’s current condition and that there is no cause to worry.

Happy Election Day. Please do not respond to this message.

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