Friday, January 30, 2009

Bacon-wrapped hot dogs ARE delicious.

I just read about a list of 100 things to eat in San Francisco before you die and while I've been to several of the places on the list, I seem to have ordered the wrong things because the ONLY thing on this list that I've eaten is #92: The Bacon-wrapped hot dog from a cart in the Mission (preferably when you’re drunk).

I can report that:

A. It was the best hot dog I'd ever eaten in my whole entire life, and that's saying something because my parents always bought hot dogs from the deli -- not the vaccuum packed meat section at Safeway.

B. I had been drinking.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Baltimore Bonanza

Now that I have the inauguration post out of the way I can tell you all about the rest of my adventure on the east coast.

JFK was snowy:

I couldn't sleep AT ALL on my red eye flight so I arrived at my final destination ALLLLLLLLLL bleary-eyed and unable to complete full sentences. Luckily, the only thing on our agenda for the day was BOTTOMLESS MIMOSA BRUNCH. Those three words, in that order, are my favorite three words ever.

We went to Kooper's Tavern in the Fell's Point area of Baltimore for BOTTOMLESS MIMOSA BRUNCH. Our waitress warned us that the window for bottomless mimosas ended in an hour and fifteen minutes (stupid flight was delayed because of all that bastard snow in NY), but we are career mimosa drinkers and DON'T YOU WORRY -- we got our $10's worth. And then some. We finally hit the mimosa wall after like five pitchers. Divided by 4 people.

Brunch was followed by shopping in some CUTE stores that, if I was sober and/or not going on 30 hours without sleeping, I would have enjoyed a lot more. Instead, I found a display couch and parked my butt.

We eventually made it back to Danielle and Mike's house where I enjoyed a shower and the best nap EVER. Rejuvinated, CK and Danielle and I ventured out onto the FROZEN TUNDRA to get dinner. The thing that is equal parts awesome and dangerous about CK is that you go "Crab dip and ice cream both sound really good right now" and the next thing you know, you're at a DESERTED grocery store (it was during the Steelers/Ravens game and these people take their football VERY seriously) throwing $30 worth of crab and boxes and boxes of things to deep fry into Danielle's cart. Normally I just go "Crab dip and ice cream both sound really good right now" but I'm too lazy to do anything about it so I have a bowl of cereal.

So we had my idea of the PERFECT dinner: APPETIZERS! Fried ones, even.

And cheeeeese!

The best worst chips I've ever tried:

They put Old Bay on EVERYTHING out there.

Orange you glad for change?

One thing we DIDN'T buy:

What the heck, cookie decorators??

So despite being EXHAUSTED, I had a really great day.

The next day was also awesome because I was in the same company but also because IT SNOWED:

We spent some time oggling our fancy train tickets for the next day:

And then went to lunch at a wacky diner where dusting must be a full time job:

It was right around the corner from the bakery in Ace of Cakes, but I totally wussed out and didn't want to get out of the car to have my picture taken. I could blame the cold but really, I was embarrassed. So instead, we only did a drive-by:

After that, Danielle took CK and me on a driving tour of Baltimore. There are TONS AND TONS of quaint brick buildings and it took me a minute to figure out that I think ANYTHING with brick buildings is quaint because we don't have brick buildings in CA.

Another factoid I discovered while touring the Baltimore area: It was late January and people still had their Christmas decorations up. Lights on and everything. Some even had Christmas AND Valentines decorations up. What's up with that, Maryland??

We decided to brave the FRIGID, FRIGID COLD and hike up a "hill" that looked out over the Baltimore harbor. Danielle was like "Would you rather climb up the stairs (she knew my thighs were BURNING from boot camp abuse) or take the path up the hill?" and I couldn't figure out what hill she was talking about because all I saw was a gentle slope. It's the San Francisco in me, I'm sure.

Here they are standing at the bottom of the mountain:

(And okay, in that picture it defintely looks hilly'er.)

With CK at the summit:

The harbor was frozen:

Danielle and I both have dandruff problems:

Then, after a couple of trips to Target (or before? I don't remember), the three of us had pedicures:

I swear, as soon as I win the lottery I'm getting that stupid tattoo removed.

And then because you can't go to Maryland without eating crab, we went out for some famous crab cakes, where we ate too much and then came home and followed the crab cakes up with more ice cream before we set the alarm for 3:30AM and hit the hay.

[insert inauguration bonanza here]

And then I went home. Tired but inspired. And missing my friends. Wah.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Elizabeth Goes to the Inauguration FAQ:

Q1. Was it SUPER cold?

A1. Yes. And when I say "yes" I don't mean in that "OH MAH GAH I'm from California and anything below 60 degrees is FUH-REEEEZING!" kind of way. I mean it like "OH MAH GAH it was SO COLD that I have never been so ACTUALLY concerned for my physical wellbeing ever before in my life."

Seriously you guys, it was cold. The day before the inauguration, Danielle took CK and I on a tour of Baltimore (where I weenied out about taking a picture of myself in front of the Ace of Cakes bakery because I was embarrassed) and we spent about seven minutes walking along a path that looked out over the harbor, taking pictures, and walking back and that was pretty darn cold and I had trouble looking at the view because the wind was blowing the falling snow directly into my eyeballs, but it was only seven minutes and I knew the luxury of Danielle's Saturn was waiting to warm us at the end of our excursion into the elements.

So drop the temperature ten degrees and stand around outside for HOURS AND HOURS AND HOURS without ANYWHERE to go for warmth and not only are you REALLY, REALLY, REALLY cold, but you're also starting to freak out a little bit. And then you think about how badly you want to give up and go home. Except you can't because there is LITERALLY no way for that to happen. Your phone doesn't work because of the couple other million cell phones out there so you can't even call your dad to come and rescue you, and even if you could call him, he wouldn't be able to help you, which is crazy because I've always known that my dad could save me from anything.

So you decide to sit down. Except you don't have anything to sit on and yes, you might not be thinking very clearly (confusion is a symptom of hypothermia, I've since learned) but you're wearing your mom's very fancy wool and cashmere coat and the ground is covered with dirt and dried grass and you have the clarity to know that sitting directly on the ground is not an option but then you remember that you have an emergency poncho in your bag so you unfold it and park your ass down on the frozen ground.

So now you're probably freezing yourself from the ass upwards but you don't care. You want it to be over. The only part of your body that is warm are the palms of your hands because HOLY COW those hand warmers work like a CHARM. So you sit there and try to wait it out while the crowd fills in around you and a few other people sitting on plastic bags or blankets around you.

While you're down there, willing time to pass so it could be time to go already, you try WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT not to start shivering because once you do, you know it's OVER so you get the great idea to put a spare set of toe warmers IN YOUR BRA. To warm your core, and all. Ignore the warnings about avoiding direct skin contact with the toe warmers and enjoy the warmth. (Note: The warnings had merit. I still have toe warmer shaped red marks on my boobs.)

They started playing the Sunday night Lincoln Memorial concert on the big screen right when we got there and eventually, high on the warmth of my chestular region, I decided to stand up and join the crowd in enjoying the show.

So I was up, people were dancing and rejoicing and having fun. Me? What was I doing? I was fading in and out of a standing sleep. I'd catch myself right before I'd fall over and I started thinking that maybe I wasn't sleeping. Was I fainting? I don't know. I've never come anywhere close to fainting before. I'm a battle axe. I'm my mother's daughter. But I do know that I had to hold onto consciousness like the lap bar on a roller coaster. What to do?? Don't freak anyone out. Eat something. OOh, CK is eating beef jerky. Maybe nitrates will do me good. Mmmm, beef jerky. So a few sips of water and a chunk of beef jerky later I was feeling better. Still totally cold and miserable, but better. Like, I was capable of standing up without nearly toppling over.

But I'll tell ya: It did occur to me that maybe I shouldn't try so hard NOT to faint because if I DID faint, at least I'd get my ass carried out of there and I'd be able to regroup in a warm ambulance. That sounds horrible, doesn't it? Except that later that night a couple other posse members admitted that they had the same thought: If they could get hurt, they'd at least be able to get warm.

So yes, it was cold.

Brian took this picture, which I think speaks volumes:

Q2: But was it awesome?

Yes. But also no. I'll be honest with you: I didn't feel the heart-swelling, goosebump-inducing pride I felt back in November when they called the election for Obama but really, dying of hypothermia is kind of distracting.

But yes, it was awesome. I was happy for all the people around me, happy for the country, looking forward to the future, etc. It kind of felt like Christmas and how how happy I am to be giving people I love presents that make them happy.

Also, it was pretty damn awesome to be a part of something so big. Big in terms of logistics, but mostly, big in terms of what it all means for America. I love that so many people have fallen back in love with their country.

Q3: Who did you go with?

My friends Mike & Danielle opened up their new house in the Baltimore suburbs to a whole gaggle of us for the weekend and we all attended the inauguration together and MAGICALLY, also managed to STAY together. So it was Mike & Danielle, Brian, Louise, their daughter Amelia and her friend Amanda -- all from West Virginia, my beloved CK from Texas and ME!

My friend Sonya was also in town for the big event and was due to take the same inbound train as the rest of my posse. I saw her for a split second as I was boarding the train and she looked happy and excited to be there and I hugged her but I had to continue moving and I thought I'd see her again when we got off the train. I didn't see her again and the fact that I assumed I would was just so mind-blowingly naieve. She was one in 1.8 million.

I am really happy I did see her for that moment though.

Q4: Did you watch the parade?

A4: No, but in retrospect, I wish we had. We kept trying to get back to Union Station so we could get out of the cold and find something to eat but every police man we (Danielle) asked sent us in a different direction and each time, we found ourselves at another dead end. We'd walked ONE MILLION MILES at this point and yeah, people were hungry and cranky and at their wits end, but we had somehow stumbled upon the verrrry beginning of the parade route (like, 20 feet from the gate to the capitol) where there were (gasp!) places to sit and the crowd was only one or two people deep. Our options appeared to be:

* Walk ONE MILLION MILES back and around, where we had no guarantee that we'd even be able to get to where we were going.

* Sit down and watch the parade. Heck, we still had nearly four hours before our train was supposed to leave and I'd certainly love to see Obama up close.

But just as I was convincing the posse that we should just make lemonade out of lemons, the police broke into the parade route and we made a run for it.

I can't decide if that was a good move or a bad move. If we had stayed, we'd have seen the Obamas with our own eyes but then we would have been MUCH MUCH MUCH MUCH further back in the multiple thousand person line to get into the train station and we wouldn't have made it onto the first train after the station reopened (more on that later). On the other hand, heading straight over put us smack dab in the biggest FIASCO I'd ever been a part of, but we did get on the first train.

Q5: What is this Epic Train Fiasco of '09?

Ohhhhhhhhhhhh girrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrl. It was epic.

So, we got to the train station and found that the main entrance was closed (for an inaugural ball that was due to take place later that night) and the crowd to get into the side door was PACKED and NOT MOVING. Then it turned out that we WEREN'T going to move because the train station got shut down by the fire marshall because it was overcrowded but OH HEY the doors were blocked by thousands of people who were trying to get IN so the people inside couldn't get OUT.

EVERYBODY TURN AROUND, they said. Okay. Sure thing. Except that in order for all those people to TURN AROUND, they all have to be willing to cooperate and they have to UNDERSTAND, which was one of the main problems. I heard someone in the crowd comment that of ALL the cops standing around watching the crowd, NONE OF THEM had a megaphone?!?!?!

After like an hour of inching and shoving, we were out of the mob and LOOK! SOMEWHERE TO SIT!

But then it quickly turned into a big, confusing mess again and we ended up spending the next couple of hours standing in a crushing crowd of people who were generally pretty good natured, but annoyed because this guy doesn't know how to use a megaphone:

He kept pointing it up to the sky and the crowd would organize themselves to shout WE CAN'T HEAR YOU and the DHS guy would smirk and chew his gum and look cocky and then point his megaphone up in the air again and ug, it was frustrating, but EVENTUALLY they cleared the station (except for, as it turns out, my friend Sonya who was one of the people on the inside and who refused to leave because it was unsafe) and they let us back in and BY THE GRACE OF GOD, we got on the train and went back to Baltimore.

Despite my near meltdown earlier in the day, I was pretty okay during the whole train thing. All the bodies crushed against mine warmed me up enough and I was just going with the flow. The only answer was to just be cooperative. There was nowhere else to go -- no shelter, no food, no other answer than to just keep on keepin' on. So I did.

I mean, seriously, look at all the people behind me:

But then the next day we heard about all the people who never even made it to the mall because they got stuck in a tunnel and we decided that being stuck outside is A MILLION times better than being stuck in that tunnel. Plus, it sounds like just about everyone experienced the same HOW THE HELL DO I GET OUT OF HERE challenges that we did, so we weren't alone in our plight.

Q6: Would you go again?

NO. It was a really exciting life experience and I'm SO GLAD I was able to go and be a part of it and I wouldn't trade it for the world, but it was also one of the hardest days of my life and I can't imagine VOLUNTARILY being that cold ever again. And it's not like I was woefully underdressed or anything -- I was wearing two shirts, a fleece jacket, a big warm coat, hat, scarf, neck warmer, fleece gloves and jeans. If I could do it again, I'd have worn thicker socks and probably also my puffy vest that everyone makes fun of me for, but even then, I don't think I would have been warm enough.


Parking in Baltimore:

Pre-Dawn Capitol Building:

Totally fake looking, no?


Our Spot:

We were between the Capitol Building and the Washington Monument:

The garbage people left was DISGUSTING:

I heard the term "post-apocolyptic" a few times throughout the course of the day:

Fun Fact: Of all the folks we saw at MSNBC, Rachel Maddow was the HANDS DOWN FAVORITE:

I had no idea who she was until a couple of weeks ago but people of all ages and ethnicities kept coming up and going OH WOW! RACHEL MADDOW!

Sorry, Rachel Maddow, for that unflattering picture, btw. You're way cuter than that.

Getting closer to the Capitol Building:

The walk and the celebrity sightings warmed me up and my mood improved and I took 75 million self portraits of me and half of the Capitol Building:

But most of them turned out to be of me and the porta potties:

Other Fun Facts:

1. Did you know that people still wore fur coats? They're like THE choice in outerwear for the older black ladies. With coordinating head pieces and everything. I couldn't even tell you how many I saw -- thousands, easily. And underneath the fur, almost all of them were wearing sweatshirts with rhinestones on them. It was a fascinating fashion lesson for me, I tell you.

2. If you happen to be Facebook friends with Danielle or Brian you should go look at their pictures because HOLY COW those two take some fine ass pictures...unlike me with my EasyShot something-or-other.

3. My face is peeling from the cold. Give my scalp about a week or so and it'll follow suit, which will be AWESOME.

4. We saw Garrison Keillor! He was one of the people who managed to get across the parade route with us and when I got to the other side I stood there hoping to see seven familiar faces emerge from the crowd, I saw Garrison Keillor crossing. I was like "Hmmm. That sure does look like Garrison Keillor. Oh wait. That dude is asking him for an autograph. It IS Garrison Keillor." If I'd had my camera handy and if he hadn't been walking away from me I would have asked for a photo because I know my parents would get a kick out of it (they're big Lake Woebegone fans from way back) but instead I saw some members of my posse and pointed him out.

And seriously, if you needed more proof that we're a bunch of NERDS, Garrison Keillor might as well have been Beyonce.

5. If you haven't seen the satellite picture, you should go look at it. It's pretty damn amazing. I believe we were about here:

Bottom Line:

It was exceptional.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I totally used a calculator to figure out what 16 x 3 =.

It's too bad the majority of my posse turned 32 in 2008 because I don't think I can remember to send this to them for their 48th birthdays:

Friday, January 9, 2009

Why the park across from my apartment isn't as lovely as it may appear.

This happened five blocks from my house.

For the click-adverse:

(01-08) 17:49 PST SAN FRANCISCO --

Three men were arrested after someone opened fire on mourners outside the funeral for a homicide victim this afternoon in the Western Addition, San Francisco police said.

No one was hit in the shooting at 1:25 p.m. at Fillmore Street and Golden Gate Avenue, which happened as friends and relatives of 18-year-old Lazarus "Buddy" Pickett were leaving his memorial service, police said.

Officers who had been monitoring the service seized a Tech 9 assault weapon and arrested two 21-year-old men and a third man, age 20, said police Sgt. Wilfred Williams. Their names have not been released.

Pickett was stabbed to death Dec. 30 outside the Plaza East public housing development on Larch Way in the Western Addition, in what authorities described as the outgrowth of domestic violence.

DeEbony Smith, 27, with whom Pickett had a baby daughter, was arrested and has been charged with murder.


Even better? The original murder in this sequence of events took place THREE blocks from my house.


I mean, that's not a surprise or anything -- I live across from the beginning of several blocks of projects and the last time I looked at the SF homicide map there were a GAGGLE of them in that same neck of the woods:

View Larger Map

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Picture Post!

I just uploaded the pictures off my camera so here ya go:

1. This was one of my Christmas presents and it was SO not like my mom to do this, so I loved it:

It was a box with 20 or so pictures of boots that had been cut out of the newspaper (who knew there were so many boots to be found in the paper??) and underneath them all:

was a check for boot camp.

Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwl, thanks Mom.

2. Today's lunch making process.

The ingredients:

The simmering:

Getting a chicken soup facial:

The dumplings have been added:

The end result:

It wasn't as totally ASS KICKIN' delicious as the soup I made last week, but this one (from Cooking Light) was definitely worth making again. And next time I'll make sure I have all the ingredients, but FYI, the dumplings come out just fine without the baking powder and the parsley.

My San Francisco To Do List

So now that I'm officially moving out of SF in 2009, there's more pressure to do the things I've always wanted to do, but never got around to. I started a list of things to do in the city while I was unemployed and I did a whole bunch of them:

The unchecked items include:

I did most of the things I actually crossed off my list in my early retirement days. By the time I hit summer, I started to sink into a funk and motivating myself to get out and about was really difficult, but I did knock out a few more City Walks right before I started back to work.

So that second set of bullets? I WILL accomplish before I move. I dunno when that is, exactly, but I'm guessing it'll be late summer / early fall.

I'm angling to move into Joanie's old cottage in Campbell, but there's someone living there now so we all have to cross our fingers that Chuck's current tenant moves her ass after June but before, say, November. I have no reason to believe that she will, but I've been laying awake at night thinking about how awesome it would be to live there -- it's a teeny tiny two bedroom free-standing granny cottage type place, but with TONS of storage and a washer and dryer and it would be like my own little house...and ever since Ben and Sarah moved into their little house, I'm DYING to stretch my legs and have a house with a driveway and a yard.

And seriously? Is this was 32-year-olds fantasize about? Storage and washers and dryers?

You bet.

And OMG if the universe smiles down on me and I DO get to move into that little house?!!?? GUESS WHO VOLUNTEERS TO HOST CINCO DE MAYO 2010?!?!?!