Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Conversation between Sidewalk Monkey and Jam Guy, late Thursday night,

while setting Sidewalk Monkey's cat up in Jam Guy's bathroom, following an awfully dramatic plane ride filled with yowling and cat vomit:

SM: She seems awfully happy now that she has this cardboard scratcher bed thingy. [The cardboard scratcher bed thingy is a corrugated board, about the size of a cat bed, laying on the bathroom floor, sprinkled all over with catnip.] She's just laying on it and purring. Purr purr purr. Wow.

JG: Catnip is like E for cats.

SM: Do dogs get that happy from catnip?

JG: I don't think so.

SM: Could people?

JG: Nope.

SM: How come nobody makes anything like that for people?

JG: There are lots of happy drugs for people.

SM: Yeah, but nobody makes like a bed of happy drugs that you could just roll around in.

JG: She sure looks happy.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Okay--three more total classics, and then I'll stop, I promise

Sidewalk Monkey Loves Harry and Myra

Surfrunner, May and I have been talking about homesickness. This is from whence where my current YouTube orgy of vintage Hawaii commercials arises.

Remember Harry and Myra, the unlikely celebrities that represent so much of what we love about being from Hawai'i? Played by Ben and Gloria Tamashiro, a real-life couple that had been married for 56 years when Ben passed away unexpectedly at the age of 86, Harry and Myra were the faces of a really brilliant Bank of Hawai'i marketing campaign. The commercials encouraged people to bank locally, because that's how Harry and Myra did their banking, and Harry and Myra looked, spoke and worked like us, or our parents, or our grandparents, or aunties or uncles or sisters or army buddies.

Mr. Tamashiro, who is a veteran of the 100th Infantry Battalion,
authored the inscription on the Go For Broke monument in Los Angeles, which bravely and without explanation uses the term "concentration camps" for what the United States government officially termed "relocation centers."

I love, love, love these commercials. They make me nostalgic, and also make me crave saimin.

The first one has a bonus Aloha United Way commercial with Frank DeLima!

This next one has a travel agency ad afterwards (I doubt it's a coincidence, but who knows) for a trip along with the filming crew for a documentary about the 100th Infantry Battalion.

This one brings tears to my eyes.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

It's a date!

We have a closing date set for the 31st!

So exciting.

Whenever I am happy--and I am very, very happy right now, I know I am (I must be.)--I am simultaneously wracked with anxiety. I am trying to learn how to just be happy, but it's an awful lot of work. Last night I came to the sort-of-earth-shaking epiphany that I am responsible for my own choices--for all of them; that part of being a grownup means not blaming my childhood or exes or anything but me for my neuroses and issues; that the liberating and terrifying truth is that I am in charge of my own life.

At the moment, I am aware of the liberating part of this truth, but definitely experiencing only the terrifying part.

There are so many wonderful things about being a grownup. I can live with my beautiful Jam Guy. We are buying a home. We can have children of our own and be the real grownups (gulp). I can wear what I want, earn a paycheck, go to the grocery store with it and leave with a shopping cart full of Apple Jacks if I want. (Do they still make Apple Jacks?) I can leave the house whenever I want; I can close doors when I want. As I told Jam Guy on our drive up through California a few weeks ago, I have never, ever been this free in my life.

But some days, there's nothing like being a grownup to make you want to get fetal again. Or at least hide out in a pillow fort.

(image from

My friend Monisha told me last night that at 30, I am winding up my Saturn return, which she says is a time of coming back to yourself and a time of maturation. That resonated with me. This right-now-period in my life marks for me a time of moving into happiness and groundedness in a real way. In spite of--no, probably because of--this, I am getting shook up every day by bad memories, weird flaring-ups of neuroses, anxiety, crazies. I am hiking barefoot over some scary-ass territory on my way to this home that Jam Guy and I are trying to build together. And I have to build something for myself, and I am still waiting and working to learn what that thing is.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Least-efficient way to start a conversation with a stranger

Today, about 5:30 p.m, in the drive-through lane of Colima's Taco Shop:

Taco Shop Employee: Un' horchata.
Sidewalk Monkey: Thank you. Oh, I might have exact change--
TSE: Hey, you got a little turbo car there, huh?
SM, who has no idea whether her car is "turbo" or not: Yeah!
TSE: Your name is Sandra, right?
SM: Nope.
TSE: Weird. You really look like a Sandra. I'm sure you have an S name. Shayna?
SM: No.
TSE: Shania?
SM: No.
TSE: Selena!
SM: No.
TSE: Shelly?
SM: No.
TSE: It does start with an S, though, right?
SM: No.
TSE: Huh. What letter does it start with?
SM: Oh, um.
SM: No. I--
TSE: Olivia?
SM: Is my taco ready?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Your good vibes are working!

The inspection on what we have been calling "Our New House" (usually followed by me dancing around and squealing a lot) was completed today, and it's all good. Meaning it's pretty much all systems go--still not closed, but one big step nearer to moving in to Our New House. Yay!

Thank you again for the good vibes, and please do keep them coming!

I think this calls for a shoe picture:

These are the shoes I am currently lusting after in earnest (as opposed to the four pairs of shoes in the previous post that I find of interest aesthetically but am not actually considering saving my pennies for), because not only are these awfully pretty, but they are also comfortable, waterproof, warm, and not trendy (read: I will still like them next year). More remarkably, they are the first shoe with a lower-than-three-inch heel that I have lusted after probably ever.

I think that means I am growing up. Or else it means that my crunched-up, blistered feet are shouting that they have had enough. Or maybe--I am leaning towards this theory--they represent the real plausibility of melding urban-barhopping-dancing-queen-shoe-lusting me with blissfully-farming-in-the-backyard-of-Our-New-House me. I mean, I can work a Nanette Lepore skirt AND a row of artichokes in these, maybe even at the same time.

Or maybe I am ascribing too much import to my shoe choices. In support of this theory stands the fact that I consider lusting after a low-heeled boot to be clearer evidence that I am becoming a grown-up than the combined evidences of finishing grad school, getting married and buying a house. But I still like the melding theory better.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Time for more shoe lust

I am not sure why I like these so much. I tried not to like them, because they are Uggs (their new slightly more appearance-sensitive "Nolita" line). It's kind of how I tried really hard not to like Uggs in general. In principle, I am opposed to dropping a couple Benjis on remarkably unattractive shoes, no matter how soft and warm and fuzzy, simply because a few years back they became trendy. I did, however, buy a pair of knockoff Uggs at Sears for 20 bucks back when I sprained my ankle and was trying to figure out how to look cute for a Jam Guy visit without wearing high heels. Now I love those knockoffs so much I have Lysol-ed the soles and wear them all around the house, because the nice (fake) sheepskin lining is so kind to my feet that get abused in heels most of the time when I'm not in the house.

One of my fellow interns has this pair of Uggs with a little buckled pocket on the side, and they are actually very cute on her, and I have eyed and coveted them a little, but secretly.

So I get the appeal of Uggs, although for the price tag, I'll just stick to my knockoffs, or get a pair of Bearpaws when the knockoffs fall apart.

So the cool thing about these actually attractive high-heeled Uggs, besides the fact that they are high-heeled, is that they have the luxurious (real) sheepskin lining along the footbed of the boot. So they're probably pretty warm and comfortable, even if they do have a three-inch heel.

One other reason I tried not to like them is that I generally tend not to like black leather with wood-tone heels, because for some reason it makes me think of old bar furniture. Although I normally like old bar furniture. Maybe that's why I like these.

I think maybe I spend too much time thinking about shoes.

But as long as I am thinking about shoes:

Friday, July 11, 2008

I like this

I dunno how to make it bigger, but it gets bigger if you click on it.

It's from, by the fantastic Randall Munroe.

Kind of sums up why I get nervous about how wonderful I feel when I'm with Jam Guy: This doesn't seem possible! Am I about to wake up? Pinch me.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Monday afternoon, somewhere between San Diego and Santa Rosa, on the 5, heading north

I was sitting in the passenger seat of Jam Guy's car with my feet up on the dash, about three-quarters of all the stuff I own in the world crammed behind us (Jam Guy, happily loading the car in San Diego with boxes of miscellaneous shapes: "It's like Tetris, but in 3D!"), drinking kefir and eating banh mi, gazing out at endless, wide-open acres planted with some constant, indistinguishable agricultural product, and reflecting on a past marked by close borders. Unthinking, not pre-editing my speech for once, I said to Jam Guy, "This is the freest I've ever been."

What I meant was, I am myself, and this time in my life is the first time that I know I don't have to let that be interfered with. That is a big deal.

Tuesday afternoon we went and viewed the house (thank you again for all the good vibes--keep them coming, please!) We met with the owner, Tom, a perfectly lovely older gentleman who weighs maybe a hundred pounds and bursts with energy and goodness, who said that he was so glad that the people buying the house are going to love and cultivate the garden; it's what he knew his parents wanted and he had been so worried that the new owners would turn it into an apartment complex or something. He gave us a grocery bag filled with jars of preserves he and his mother had put up from the garden outside: figs, pears, Italian prunes, his mother's famous raspberry jam. He also gave us all sorts of invaluable information about the garden, a whole calendar's worth of planting and pruning guidelines, so much that I said I wished I'd brought a notebook. He offered to come back and show us how to do what when, and I ended up popping by the next morning, a jar of Jam Guy's pickled figs along to give to Tom, to learn how to care for the raspberry bushes. It was fun. I wielded clippers, tied sisal, dodged yellow jackets; I had gloves full of raspberry stickers and berry stains all over my clothes when I was done. I met a lovely neighbor. I ate a fig. I am still nervous about the house, and I will continue to be until closing, but I am daring to be happy anyways.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Thank you, Universe, and open call for more good vibes

So I maybe rant about this too much to my friends, but I really believe that if you put out what you want to the universe, or God, or the Jedi force or whatever or whomever you think is sort of in charge of things, it comes to you, and this keeps happening as long as you are able to be open and grateful.

I have a lot of examples of how this has worked out in my life. Some big ones: Jam Guy (Hey, Universe? My faith in the fact that I can have be romantically involved with someone who loves me just the way I am has been deeply shaken. Please don't let me lose it entirely); Chinese medicine (Hey, Universe? I know it's hard to find a career that lets you be fulfilled and paid at the same time. Could you help me with that?); and Meimei, my amazing cat (Hey, Universe? I think it would be cool to have a cat, but I like dogs and I worry I won't be able to bond with a cat. Could I have a cat that is as affectionate and happy to hang out with me as a dog?). I am deeply grateful for all of these absolutely elemental pillars of my happiness. And they have all involved being open--I didn't expect the universe's answer to my romance request to live three thousand miles away; I really thought the universe's answer to my career question would involve the performing arts; and I didn't expect that the sandpaper-tongue kisses lavished by my puppy-sweet, wildly lovey-dovey kitty would cause me to break out in hives. But rolling with those particular, unexpected punches--moving across the country, launching myself into a Master's of Science degree while the people that remember how I felt about chemistry class in high school blink and look polite, and taking megadoses of vitamin C for its purported antihistamine effect--has opened up a sweeter life for me than I even dare believe most days.

I do have a point here: So on my Facebook account sometime last week, I posted a status update that read something along the lines of, "Sidewalk Monkey wants to live in a house with enough room to have a vegetable garden and chickens and goats, but that is also within walking distance to cafes, bars, and boutiques. Is that possible?" Maybe in my head, I'd prefaced that with, "Hey, Universe?"

It is one of those things that's sort of impossible around the area in in the price range that Jam Guy and I have been looking for a house, given Santa Rosa prices and the way that its communities are laid out. I was trying to resign myself to a one-or-the-other kind of deal--we can have the big plot of land but be far from town, or we can be in town and have a bitty backyard. But since in my experience it never hurts to put the hope out there, give thanks for everything you already have, and spread your hands in a gesture that might be surrender or expectancy or both, out there went the hope, right up there on the Internet.

So then a couple of days later Jam Guy and I are looking at houses online, and we see this house with no pictures that had gone on the market less than 24 hours before. The info on the site described a teensy little cottage, 103 years old (Jam Guy and I have always said we wanted an old house, one with good bones and strong character). It also described a HUGE backyard, bordered all along its back edge with a creek, with a fig tree, an apple tree, a pear tree, raspberry bushes, a greenhouse, an artichoke plot and plenty of room for gardening, for a chicken coop and for running Toby. It mapped an address that is a few moments' walk from downtown Santa Rosa, which has a whole bunch of bars, cafes, and boutiques. It also listed a price well within our range. It is the house I put out the hope for, and then some. (Thank you, Universe.)

At the open house the next afternoon, Jam Guy, being his usual sincere and charming self, made friends with the owner and the real estate agent. We had some Serious Talks. I danced around a lot, out of nerves and excitement. We wrote an offer letter together, explaining how much we loved the house, the visions we had for the garden, the desire to have a wedding in the backyard with the grand fig tree standing witness. Jam Guy included a jar of his marmalade with the offer, to rather literally sweeten the deal.

Last night Jam Guy called me to let me know that the offer has been accepted. He signed stuff. At this stage, things look pretty good, and we should feel celebratory, I believe, but I always hear that you just don't know for sure until closing. There are some little things that might turn up that would not result in our having our wedding under the fig tree. So for a little while, I was afraid to tell anyone and be excited about it because I didn't want to jinx anything, because I am so hopeful that this gift from the universe is really the gift it looks like right now.

But then I remembered how very helpful all your good vibes were for helping get to rounds yesterday morning and this morning, and how much more wonderful the experience of rounds was than I expected (no doubt due to your fantastic good vibes). I also remembered that I don't know that I believe in jinxing, except when I'm feeling fearful--but I do know that I always believe that the universe is conspiring in our favor. So, while we are still technically unsure about whether our beautiful new home is indeed our beautiful new home, I am asking my lovely friends to please, please, please keep sending those good vibes! And in return, we will send you some lovely fig preserves next year.

(Again: How did I get here from where I was two years ago? I can't be anything but absolutely overwhelmed with gratitude.)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Yay for your good vibes!

Made it to rounds this morning! It was SO cool. Even more fascinating than I'd hoped. The MD team was very open to having acupuncture interns in with their patients, and we saw some incredibly interesting cases.

Your vibes worked! Thanks so much!

I'm going to try and go tomorrow again. Feel free to send more vibes if you're awake; I'm sure I could use them.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Tomorrow morning

I am waking up to go on rounds at UCSD Medical Center. They begin at 7:30. I am planning to wake up at 6, or a bit earlier, in order to have time to have a bit of coffee and breakfast first.

Last Thursday I tried to do just this, but somehow slept through three alarms and woke up at 7:20. I miraculously still made it to the hospital at 7:35, but by then my team was off somewhere and I couldn't find them. I did wander (delirious for having had no coffee yet) all over three floors of the hospital, explaining to people who approached me that I don't work there and am not an M.D.; and that yes, I realize it is confusing because I am wearing a white lab coat, but I am required to wear a white lab coat. This was an awful lot of sturm und drang for 7:35 in the morning before coffee.

Around 8 I gave up (the rounds take less than an hour) and went back to my car, and was charged 5 dollars for having parked for half an hour (them's the rules--up to two hours is $5; I usually scout around for cheaper parking, but I was late.) Gave the attendant a ten, he gave me no change; I asked for my change, he insisted I'd given him a five; I parked and waited while he counted out his drawer, and after about 15 minutes he kindly apologized and returned my fiver. I wasn't mad at him--maybe he hadn't had coffee either--I was just growing increasingly discouraged with the direction my morning was heading. Then I got a text message from someone on my team telling me where they were, and as I had not pulled out of the parking lot yet, I asked the attendant if I could please just pull back into the lot and not pay again, since I would only be another 20 minutes or so, and out well before spending a total of two hours there. He politely informed me that the parking lot does not offer in-and-out privileges, and even though I was still in the parking lot, it counted as being out of the parking lot. This kind of makes sense to me now, but it was far too confounding for having only been awake for 45 minutes.

The end result of all this was me driving away (and past my team as they emerged, looking sane, organized, and cheerful, from the hospital) and, when I was a safe distance away and out of my lab coat, having a complete meltdown and leaving a very soggy-sounding message on Jam Guy's voicemail.

So. I am posting this to request that my friends who read this blog send me some positive vibes, and hope for me that tomorrow goes nothing like last week's attempt, because that might traumatize me in some gruesome and irreversible way. If that happens, you will probably be alerted by the ranting gibberish that will appear on this blog. Thank you in advance.