christmas in california
I'm too lazy to upload all my Christmas pictures to Ofoto right now. Maybe I'll do that tomorrow or Saturday.

berkeley car game
Get two points for every Toyota Prius. One point for every Honda Civic Hybrid. Subtract 10 points from your opponent if you spot a Hummer.

Number of Priuses seen: lost count
Number of Hummers: one, on its way into San Francisco from the suburbs.

Reasons why Berkeley residents own Priuses:
+ Progressives (heart) the environment
+ Government incentives to help fight smog
+ Can't maneuver SUVs around the twisty streets
+ Neighbors would egg a military-inspired Hummer

more games
Match my answer with the question posed to me during the visit with the family.

1. "So, how's the editing job?"
2. "You don't believe everything that book [Jon Stewart's America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction] says, do you?"
3. "You grew up in Kansas. Tell us, why are Midwesterners so afraid of gays? We Californians got used to gays living together a long time ago."
4. "You like Harry Potter?"
5. "You know, this is a prime opportunity to say, 'You're not in Kansas anymore,' right?"
6. "How do you like the new job?"

A. groan
B. "Are you kidding me? I camped out for tickets to the first movie."
C. "Satire has a bit of truth, you know."
D. "I design. That is, I make the magazine look pretty."
E. "That's a very easy question with a very complicated answer varying on the day."
F. "You're preaching to the proverbial choir now."

books received as gifts this holiday season:
Longitudes and Attitudes by Thomas Friedman
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss
Pappy's Boys: the Rose Bowl Years* edited by Sports Illustrated's Ron Fimrite and produced by my grandfather

Plus reading rights to my mother's Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer, and my sister's Citizen Girl by the authors of The Nanny Diaries.

on the floor when i arrived home:
See no. three on Tim's blog (Dec. 29).

*Which, unfortunately, does not include this year


El Cerrito, Calif. - Happy Boxing Day. Holiday greetings coming at you from the Bay Area. The whole family is off to see White Christmas in a bit. We haven't seen any of that white stuff in Arizona all winter, so we have to resort to on-stage special effects.


let the ass-kissing begin
I got my first Christmas card from a freelancer I worked with earlier this fall.


lime chops
I didn't have lunch today. Apparently I picked up the wrong live-lamb-sized bag of left-overs Friday night. When I opened the box that was to contain my lamb porterhouse, I found my boss's half-eaten lime pie.


it's not me. it's you
I wish one could turn down an offer for friendship like one can break up with a guy. When telling a suitor that you see your lives going in different directions, you're applauded for being open and honest. If I can turn a guy down, why can't I do the same with a girl?

"I'm sorry," I would tell her. "I just don't think we're right for each other. I want to find someone who will watch great movies with me and discuss politics and travel, while you want to go out to expensive clubs and discuss how few hot guys are out tonight. If I want to talk about the lack of hot guys, I can do so at home and not pay cover. I want someone who will hike Camelback Mountain with me, you enjoy using the back seat of my van to mount a guy you met two hours ago at a club. I just don't think this is going to work out."

There's a word for people who say mean things like that: bitchy. So, instead, I ignore her phone calls and appologize for having other plans. ("Sorry I can't come out with you tonight, I have to wash my hair.") My evasion was working well; I hadn't heard from her since before Halloween. But tonight she called.

Thank goodness for caller ID.
playing with the big kids now
It is 1 a.m., and I've just returned home from an office holiday dinner party. Against my better judgment, I am posting on this leaky cauldron, of sorts because I feel guilty; I have let the links bar to the right grow longer than the recent entries in the main column of this site. It is time I revisited you, dear blog readers and amused you with the goings on here in the Valley of the Sun.

Tonight we went to a nice steakhouse for dinner. "Nice" doesn't cover it, though. When I arrived, I parked a block away so as to avoid the restaurant's valet parking. When I saw the waiters in the white suit coats swirling around the tables, I was glad I had changed out of the pale blue tank top I had planned on wearing. Nearly every other woman seated around the table was wearing a sequined blouse. A waiter swooped in on me as soon as I sat down, replacing my crisp white napkin with a crisp black one, "So as not to get lint on your black slacks," he said.

Earlier in the day I had been lulled into a false sense of security that my peers at work were my kind of people. Having told us to wear comfortable clothing, our editor treated us to an afternoon out of the office, taking us to a rock wall climbing center. We spent a few hours scaling the walls, and I was at home in clothes I've also worn as pajamas. Then, we were told to meet him as Mastro's Steakhouse, "And I wouldn't wear jeans," he told us, his eyes emphasizing that a shower would be necessary.

Mastro's was the type of restaurant one goes to for (insert life-changing event here). Our table of 10 didn't have one white-jacketed waiter; we had four. There was a man whose sole duty, I determined, was to stand watch over the three tables in our area, keeping careful guard for water or wine glasses nearing the half-empty mark. Another man, who looked like he could be playing the role of a Secret Service agent with his black suit and earpiece stood at the opposite side of the table. The seafood sampler came out with dry ice "smoke" spilling over the sides of the dish, and I felt like a foreigner scrutinizing the natives around the table, mimicking their moves as I tried to figure out how to extract meat from a lobster claw without squirting lobster juice all over my boss.

When it came time to order our main course, the ring leader of the waiters got our attention saying, "Excuse me ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to take this time to introduce our menu." I ordered the lamb porterhouse, and when it arrived, it announced its entry into the room, sizzling on a 400-degree platter. The food was amazing, and of course I couldn't finish it (I knew desert would be coming and I had to save room). This was not the type of restaurant where one asked for a doggy bag, though. Instead, the waiter returned with my lamb in a small box occupying a shopping bag large enough to carry a live version of my dinner. The bag read:

Scottsdale + Beverly Hills

After dinner, I followed a couple of coworkers out for drinks at Barcelona, a nearby club. This time, I parked two blocks away not because I wanted to avoid the valet parking; I seriously doubted that the bouncers would let me in the building after watching me alight from the beat-up green minivan I drive. The men in our group paid their $10, and though we women entered free of charge, I gripped the Burberry purse my grandmother bought me for my 21st birthday as if it alone could sanction my presence in the upscale club. I was afraid my plastic Target chandelier earrings would give me away, and I adjusted the £5 pashmina Pat brought me back from a London street vendor, hoping it would lend my outfit an air of global style.

I should have realized that the days of Chipotle as a high-class meal were long gone a month ago when I attended a "get together" at a coworker's house. She asked that guests bring something to eat or drink, so I brought chips - I went all out and brought two bags, actually - which seemed to slightly offend my hostess. I set my bags of chips on the table among sushi, tri-tip, mussels, candied almonds and chocolate-covered bananas and turned to the little black terrier that follows us Kansas girls, saying to myself, "Toto, I don't think we're in college anymore."


come one, come all
Wanna get in on the FHNGBCBC action? Let me know. Our first book is Jeffrey Eugenides' Middlesex. If you want to be part of the club, I'll extend you an invite. Or, feel free to read along and comment if you so desire.


bibliophiles, unite!
The Friendship Has No Geographic Boundaries Cyber Book Club begins! You read it there first.

blast from the past
Fellow Cyber Book Club Bloggers:

Sarah, Meh-gen and I celebrate Halloween at Kate, Myndi and Becca's last fall. Posted by Hello


some like it hot
We have heat!

What general, yet heart-felt gift should one give their new co-workers?


this isn't fargo, but...
It's friggin' freezing here in the Valley of the Sun. Last night it was colder here than in NY, Boston or Philadelphia. There was ice - ICE! - on my car this morning. Of course, none of this would be a problem if my winter clothes weren't packed away in a box on the top shelf in the garage. Or if the heater in our house worked. My dad, who grew up in cold Colorado winters, has been bundling up in his parka while indoors and I've been turning the electric blanket on high every night. Brrr.

The United Church of Christ's new ad campaign has been getting some press. Here it is.