Thursday, May 19, 2005

Nerd, continued

Brian and I, on a whim, went to see Revenge of the Sith (or is it Return of the Sith?) at midnight tonight. It completely took me back to that childhood space of I totally want that spaceship.

Oh, and cousin Jake? I'm totally sorry I played with the Star Wars guys I found under your bed all those years ago. I hope I didn't mess 'em up at all. *Whew* that guilt's been on my chest for like, twenty years.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Lest any one doubt that I come by 'nerd' honestly

I just got off the phone with my parents. We had a long conversation about the reasoning behind the Pythagorean prohibition against eating beans.

A long, animated conversation.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Five Questions from Tricia

1. What are the values/morals your parents (or
whomever) taught you as a child, which somehow
affected you in the future?

This is an interesting (and somehow difficult) one. One of the strongest lingering values (or at least one I've been noticing recently) is my strong 'intellectual' streak, something (oddly) that sets me apart from a lot of the people in my writing program. This isn't to say they aren't smart -- far from it, really. It's just that I have a sort of academic way of looking at the world: a love of reading and writing about strange and esoteric concepts, and an unabashed enthusiasm for things like literary theory and the history of ideas.

Of course it's not a black or white 'people see it either my way or another' type thing. But its always been one of my defining characteristics, from my brown-nosey elementary school days on up. And I take it really personally when people act like 'intellectualism' and 'elitism' are synonomous. Because thinking crtically is gonna save the world, man.

2. What is a common first thought you have in the
morning and the last thought before bed?

I don't know if there is a common thought that runs through my head when I'm lying in bed. I do love bed thoughts though - those funny little surrealist streams of consciousness that seem to show up in the liminal states between consciousness and whatever lies beyond it.

As we're falling asleep, we usually listen to Coast to Coast, a conspiracies and aliens call-in show that Brian's been listening to for forever. He usually falls asleep right away, no matter what topic is being discussed, but I'll often lie awake staring into the darkness as people call in to discuss alien abductions and haunted factories. Our bed is by the window, and I like to stare up at the sliver of sky between our apartment building and the next as I fall asleep, but some nights, when the eerieness on the radio gets to me, I just close my eyes and try to think of rational, daytime things.

When I wake up, I usually just wonder what's made Brian so damn chipper. And try to will myself out of bed in the direction of coffee. And I try to hold onto my just-before waking dreams for as long as I ca, but I never have the forsight to leave a notebook by the bed. This morning I woke to a dream of someone spraypainting the windows to a car I was in, and then me cooking appetizers and snacks for a large crowd.

3. If you were stranded on a deserted island and could
have 5 things and one person with you, what would you
have and with whom? (The ol' standby.)

Well, 'who' is easy -- I don't know if I'd even know how to get lost on a desert island without Brian. And besides, he's totally the sort who can figure out how to build a shelter and make fire, while I would, I dunno, weave together palm fronds into a cute bikini or reinvent deconstruction or something.

And lets see - five objects:

1. A phone (you don't expect me to live on a desert island without calling my parents at least once a week to talk about it, do you)?

2. A portable lavatory, well eqipped with toilet paper (I have anxieties about poopin' in the woods).

3. (ahem) a lifetime supply of feminine hygene products (can i include toothpaste and floss and make it a sort of toiletry bag? Ok, ok, I'll try to think outside the bathroom for a while).

4. I bookshelf stocked with (waterproof?) copies of Madeline L'Engle's books, the complete Anne of Green Gables series, random paperback mysteries and sci fi, and a few "infinitely re-readable" books, like the Illiad, the Divine Comedy and the like.

5. pants.

4. What is something you regret?

Sometimes I feel like regret is my default setting. Seriously -- today I had this great convestation with a girl from school, one of those totally wide-ranging and in depth funny conversations you get to have with folks every once and a while. And within an hour, I was feeling twinges of... I dunno ... free-range guilt? Even though it was a great conversation, I can't help but feel I said something stupid or potentially offensive or something.

That said, there are plenty of things I do and should regret. I fogot to call Shana on her birthday. I'm terrible with money. I often speak without thought or reflection. But if I had to choose one, everyday, practical regret : I wish I'd learned time management skills somewhere along the line.

5. What were you like when you were 10?

Ten was really my favorite age. I was at the height of my preadolescent powers. The fifth grade was the oldest class at Greenwood Elementary (the school around the block from my house that I’d been attending since kindergarten). We fifth graders were sort of uber-children, and school was a familiar world of teachers, janitors and administrators I'd known for years.

Though not popular, I was well known among my classmates, and universally accepted, even liked. Every day I wore the same uniform: a mismatched pair of Converse ‘All Stars,’ one pink, one blue; an old bomber jacket from world war two (the pockets stuffed with pens and paper), and a man’s fedora that my older sister had adopted and then abandoned some years before.

My teacher, Ms Riordan, and I had a special bond. We'd talk -- it seemed at the time -- like equals, with special jokes and secret smiles. Like every teacher I’d ever had, she scolded me for not reaching my ‘potential’ - a word I heard over and over again every year, as I turned math homework in late or missed assignments entirely - but she knew me, understood me. It was marvelous.

Except that I never did learn that 'potential reaching' schtick.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005


alternate title: boy am I wordy
Frog over at Between The Lakes was nice enough to pass on this meme to me. Anyone out there reading who'd like to play, let me know, and I'll send five questions of my own devising out your way (and thenyou get to ask me five questions and oh! this could go on forever...).

1) Tell me about your spiritual journey. I have a feeling there’s a story there.

Good question. I'd never really thought of my spiritual journey in any concrete way (and me! Dante obsessed over here. I know).

I grew up in a religious household. Which is to say that both my parents were religious, and actively occupied their respective faiths. My dad's a Quaker and my mom is Episcopalian, so I grew up attending both services as I liked -- Quaker meeting with dad when I was in the mood for quiet contemplation followed by organic peanutbutter sandwiches, Episcopal services with mom when I was in the mood for South African freedom songs followed by kool aid and raucous games of tag in the parish hall. And like I said, my parents were both very much involved in the life of their churches -- my earliest outside-of-family communities were formed in and around church.

This continued up through high school - I was in youth choir for a long time, and even after I dropped out of that, I regularly attended youth group and religious retreats (that was with the Episcopalians). Then, when I was a senior or junior in high school, I got very much into Quakerism -- in part because I was fairly shy, and in part ecause our old Episcopal church had hired a relatively conservative minister, and we (my mom and I and a fair amount of our friends there) were feeling a bit alienated.

When I went away to college, I stopped attending church regularly, and I have to say I haven't ever really gotten back in the habit. I do, however still consider faith and religious thought to be a big part of my life -- as I mentioned above, I'm fairly obsessed with Dante, and I read other stuff, like Aquinas and the Journals of John Woolman, which keep me on my spriritual toes. And I have a subscription to Soujourners magazine, which my mother says is just as good as church, really.

And when I was picking up my veggie box today, I noticed that there's an Episcopal church just a few blocks form me. So who knows, maybe there's more kool aid and tag in my future (though in SF, I've learned, one does not menation kool aid and religion in the same sentence).

I feel like I'm getting away without doing any sort of real meaty rumination here. But this was a great question to start mulling over - I'm sure more stuff will come out of it. I'm ruminating right now - I swear.

2) What brought you to SF?

This ones a little embarrassing, because so little brought me here, and so much makes living here so wonderful.

A little over two and a half years ago, I was living in Medford, MA with Brian in a perfectly nice apartment and working at a difficult but interesting job. I'd dropped out of Marlboro College about two years previous to that, and while I had a nice apartment and a happy relationship and a job that could be considered carreerish (that is, I wasn't slinging lattes), I still felt like there was something pretty tremendous lacking in my life. And I couldn't see myself going back to school -- there was just some sort of block there.

A week or so before thanksgiving, my old childhood friend Chris came out from California with his new boyfriend. Brian and I put them up for the duration of their stay, and Chris mentioned that should we ever want to move to San Francisco, it would be fun for all of us to live together.

That really planted the seeds. Brian had been fantasizing about California since he was a young and freezing teenager in rural Vermont, and started really talking about San Francisco as a long term plan. My job was getting more and more unpleasant, and I started fantasizing about San Francisco, too. Poor Chris had probably forgotten the whole conversation as soon as he got on the plane back to San Jose. But we started talking with him about it, anyway.

Then, at thanksgiving, my cousin Claire mentioned that she was taking a year off before medical school and moving to New York City. Everything in me that wanted freedom and something new and no more job and no more snow and arrrg! rushed to the surface, and I blurted out, "Yeah? Well, Brian and I are moving to San Francisco."

After that, things pretty much fell together. I gave notice at my job, Brian and I started saving money, and Chris started looking at two bedroom apartments in San Francisco. By March, we were here, in this small-but-cute-and-location! little apartment on Haight St. And in the two years since, I've finished my BA, started on my Masters, and made more 'neighborhoody' friends than I've had since college. Go figure.

3) What was the best thing about your trip to Hong Kong?

Thats a toughie. I went with my old college friend Liza, which was awesome in and of itself, because she and I hadn't laid eyes on one another for more than two years. So, seeing Liza, getting over (mostly) my fear of flying (because when you're in the air that long, you just cope), and getting outside my well-worn grooves. Those were the three best things.

That and looking for a lost turtle on Lamma.

Lost Turtle
Originally uploaded by Nora Sawyer.

Or at least wondering how one might find a single, specific turtle on a tropical island. Which leads us to...

4) How long have you and Brian been together and how did you meet?

Brian and I have been together five years as of April first (april fools day makes for a memorable anniversary).

I actually wrote down our 'how we met' story a few years ago, when I wanted to get all my family's love stories together in honor of my sister's wedding (a project that never really took off -- the collection that is, not the wedding). Anyway, you can read it here.

5) Tell me about the photo in your profile. I’m intrigued by it.

Ack! I just wrote a whole long bit on this, then accidently deleted it. Boo. Apologies if it comes out rushed.

That's probably my favorite photo from my trip to Hong Kong. Its of an alleyway in a town called Tai O, which is on Lantau Island in the Hong Kong archipelego. Liza and I went on a daytrip to Lantau one of our first days in Hong Kong. My guide book, "The Top Ten Guide to Hong Kong," reccomended that one take the Star Ferry over in the morning, then take a bus to "the quaint fishing village at the end of the island" -- Tai O, then hike up to the Buddhist monastary (and its 72-foot statue of Buddha) and enjoy a vegetarian lunch provided by the monks.

We got up early and took the ferry over, munching on red bean buns and sipping tea as we tried to get pictures of Hong Kong retreating in the distance. Once on Lantau, we poked arount Mai Wo, the village where the ferry dropped us, then hopped a bus bound for Tai O, on the other side of the island. The bus, filled to the brim with elderly people and their groceries, chugged up and down steep mountain roads for about a half hour before finally dropping us off in Tai O. We poked around for a bit -- Liza bought shrimp paste and I tooke that picture -- and congratulated ourselves on discovering something so far off the beatenpath (at least to those not in possesion of a "Top Ten Guide"). After a while, we started to get peckish and headed up the only road out of town (past the 'Fat Ho' middle school, for all those adolescent sniggerers out there), and towards the monastary.

After about fifteen minutes, the sidewalk ended. Another ten minutes, and we started to consult our maps, trying to figure out how many miles were contained in the half-thumb-width between monastary and town. Finally, after about forty five minutes of conversation about what an adventure this was and attempts not to look annoyed in front of one another, we managed to flag down a monastary-bound bus. Ten minutes and several(!) steep hills later, we were at the monastary. And man, was that monk-food good.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

We must imagine Sisyphus healthy

Oof. In my continuing campaign to be a guaranteed size eight for my cousin Claire's wedding, I've taken to jogging, and the propensity of hills and three-storey stairways in the neighborhood make for quite a work-out. Holy hindu cow-in-a-bucket, is it a work out.

In other news, San Francisco is freakin' gorgeous. I'm wishing i had a more eensy camera for in-the-pocket transport. The sunsets I'd show you!