Cloudy With A Chance Of Storm

My forecast for life. Be ready to jump in puddles.

How Foursquare made me a winner

I’m going to hit you with the punch line first. Two weekends ago, my friend won a $1k Nancy Gonzalez purse by playing a foursquare scavenger hunt with me. It took her under three minutes to get her hands on the prize.

My consolation gift was a Neiman Marcus Journal and a matching pen. Yay.

But, I think I felt as much a winner as my friend.

It started with a random blog earlier in the week stating that Neiman Marcus was going to have a promotion with foursquare in which 15 Nancy Gonzalez purses were to be hidden in 15 stores across the country. Foursquare subscribers had to go their local store, check in and, if there was a hidden purse, they’d unlock a riddle to help them find it.

I recently turned my friend, H, onto foursquare. Despite our busy schedules, both of us were free Saturday morning. So, donning our worst possible workout clothes, we showed up to Neiman Marcus with our game faces on.

We were two hours early. Damn that blog for not including the pertinent details!

So we window shopped, sipped coffee and caught up for the next two hours. At noon, we stormed that Neiman Marcus, checked in, and got our clue. It was something about a red-pair of sole mates. Duhhh. Get me to the shoe department.

As soon as we got up the escalator, I saw another young woman on her phone making a quick walk toward the shoes. Let me tell you something about H, she doesn’t like to come in second. I like a competition almost as much as I like chocolate.

Game on.

It turned into a respectable speed walking contest to the shoe department. Me, H, and two well-dress girls on their phones.

There we were, four young women (although, at my age, I might just be fooling myself) scouring the shoe department. I didn’t know if the other women knew to look for Louis Vuitton. So while they were all over the department, H and I zeroed in on the LV display table. She took one table, I took the other.

And then, it happened.

She reached her hand into a boot and pulled out the winning ticket. It said she had won a red crocodile clutch. H was speechless. It doesn’t happen much. In fact, I can’t remember another time I’ve seen her so quiet. Her expression spoke volumes though. While H was trying to wrap her head around winning a purse that could pay off her credit card bill, I was giving the other girl’s a “bitches, we won this” look.

It was at that moment, that I felt like a winner too. Friends are like your team. Sometimes, you’re all working together to kick some ass, sometimes your just the fan with the foam finger. This was a case of the later. I didn’t win squat, but I was so flippin’ ecstatic to see her holding that ticket.

It hadn’t been an easy couple of weeks for her. She had just gotten back from a European vacation with her mom where her boyfriend surprised her with an engagement ring. But, the trip ended on a sour note with her mom and quiet a bit of debt from unplanned last-minute lodging.

Even though I wanted to get my hands on that purse, I sort of surprised myself at how happy I was to see H get it. I should have been wearing a team H jersey and pulled the foam finger out of my purse.

In a time of my life where text messages and tweets suffice as acceptable forms of communication with my best friends, Foursquare and Neiman Marcus gave me a lifelong memory with one of my closest pals. And it didn’t cost a thing.

We had two hours at the mall. We only bought some makeup and coffee (Lord knows we needed both that morning). We spent two hours catching up. Talking about family (the kind you’re born with and the kind you choose), worries, hopes, and plans for her future wedding. What I got was worth more than that purse.

And, H, decided that it the purse was worth keeping and that the debt can wait a bit. She already said I get to borrow the purse for my next big night out. Go team!

P.S. – Breaking news. H, just IM’d me to say she won $100 for guessing the weight of a pumpkin. Lucky bitch.


It’s Christmas time at Costco

I was at Costco the other day and, without the aid of Christmas music, it became abundantly clear to me that it was time for holiday shopping. So naturally, I started picking things out for me.

There was a red 49ers sweatshirt for $40. So naturally, I called my mom and told her what “someone could get me for Christmas.” Naturally, my mom runs to her Costco the next day to buy my present, but they aren’t carrying the same sweatshirt.

Mom calls me and says, “So they don’t have the sweatshirt here, but if you want to pick it up at your Costco, I’ll pay you back.”


“Mom, you want me to pick up my own Christmas present for you to give me?”

My mom laughs and says, “Ahhhh, yeah. I guess so.”

So, if anyone ELSE is wondering what to get me for Christmas, the Mountain View Costco has 49ers sweatshirts. Might as well pick up some wrapping paper and ornaments while you’re there.

A Cross Stitch Christmas

I went camping this Labor Day weekend in Bodega Bay. It’s cold; It’s dreary; It’s the perfect place for scary stories around the fire.

So I told everyone about my family.

The Bus urged me to tell the one about Christmas 2010. It goes something like this:

Each year my mom’s side of the family has a Christmas get together with a Secret Santa gift exchange. Each gift is under $40 and we draw numbers to determine the order in which we pick. Gift givers’ names are usually secret.

Except for when your boyfriend calls out in front of everyone, “Hey, is this your gift for the exchange?”

I’m thinking, “Uh yeah, that’s why I put it under the tree.” I swear, it’s like Jews know nothing about Christmas.

So once everyone knows what awesome wrapped gift I brought, the fun begins.

Now this is where we take our first break for some back story.

I had decided to make a lovely subversive cross stitch as a humorous Christmas present. You know, the type you laugh at and re-gift the following years? It had a cute red border, was in a gold frame and in black letters it read, “Don’t make me cut you.” That’s funny, right?
I paired it with a mob-like cookbook and a bottle of Chianti.

My cousin is the second to pick and he picks my gift. Everyone is watching. Everyone knows I gave this gift.

Back story break number two.

After I started making my gift, but before Christmas, there was this little unfortunate domestic violence incident involving that cousin, his wife, the cops, and a knife. I think it got blown out of proportion. I can’t really say because the story was mostly hearsay. And when I say that, I mean I heard it from my mom, who heard it from the wife. It was like the biggest secret that everyone wasn’t supposed to know in my family.

You see where this going, right?

That DV cousin picks the gift with a funny heart cross stitch that says, “Don’t make me cut you.”
I swear I didn’t see this one coming.

So instead of the rousing round of laughter I thought it would get. It was met with deafening silence. I mean I could have heard a cat fart, it was so quiet. All eyes turn toward me. The Bus, who’s in the middle of the room nearly gives himself whiplash as he turns around to look at me while loudly saying, “What the f—?” Luckily he caught himself. Although at that point he was just verbalizing what everyone was thinking.

I look to my closest cousin; The one with the same sense of humor. She is standing to my right and I say, “funny, right?”

Blank stare.

So, hopefully we see THAT present again this year.

Lessons from Grandpa Norm

What always surprised me about Grandpa Norm was that he spent his career as a butcher, deconstructing living things with a knife.
It’s surprising because the Grandpa I knew always liked to fix, build and grow things. He spent hours upon hours in his garden or garage tinkering, toying and planting.
Some of my earliest memories are in Grandpa’s backyard. In fact, I distinctly remember upon every visit running down stairs, flinging open the screen door to the backyard and finding grandpa tending to his garden. I spent my afternoons asking questions, tasting cherry tomatoes, searching for perfect peas to pick and, of course, harvesting carrots.
It’s there that I learned that fava beans are delicious, that picking carrots is the best simple pleasure in life and that potato bugs are the scariest creatures I’ll ever touch with my bare hands.
Grandpa’s garage, on the other hand, was a treasure trove of antiques. Each trip to his workshop maze resulted in a history or mechanics lesson. His history lessons were taught at every old newspaper clipping and mechanics at every old cigar box that held nails or screws.
I got some of my best lessons on presidential campaigns sitting on a stool in grandpa’s workshop. And I also learned that if I couldn’t fix something, I should go ask grandpa.
When his body preventing him from doing the things he loved, he used his resourceful mind and generous spirit to help others build and fix the things he once did so well. He could tell Jeff how to add something to his new home or help Chris build a bookshelf.
As Grandpa became housebound in recent years, he retained a pretty good spirit. Partly, I think, because he could sit back and reap the fruits of his labor. I will always remember the way he smiled upon seeing his grandchildren and all six of his great grandchildren, who made frequent trips to his home.
Because of my grandfather, I believe that life’s troubles can be buried in fertile soil, that helping people is both a talent and blessing and that the true happiness comes from the simple things in life. For grandpa, there was always a reason to smile.

Take photos!

I sometimes watch my siblings take what seems like an excessive amount of pictures of their children. My nieces and nephew, all under the age of six, are adorable and lively and great photo subjects, but I always wonder if their parents are missing out on actually interacting with them for the sake of grabbing the “perfect” photo.

Quality photos are fine, but isn’t time with mom and dad better?

However, I recently read a post from one of my favorite photography web sites that changed my perception of the situation. Something as mundane as a baby picking up Cheerios might be the last time he or she does so. It might be the last smile.

I am not going to shoot family photos for fear that every relative might soon leave us. But it happens.

My father was a notorious family photographer. Long before the digital camera, my dad shot rolls and rolls of 35mm film. He made slides, shot video and had a huge closet devoted to these relics of our families past.

My dad died of a heart attack nearly 10 years ago. He was 54. I was 18. As we prepared for his funeral, it became clear that almost none of our family photos contained my dad. He was always behind the lens. My uncle, also an avid photographer, searched through his collection and gave me photos of my dad that he had taken over the years. Those photos are priceless and become even more important as time fades my memories.

This Christmas, my sister surprised the family with a compilation of some of my dad’s slides converted to CD. I sometimes feel sad that I never had more opportunities to share long conversations with my dad, to understand his life and how he saw the world. These pictures offer me that opportunity.

One of the only digital photos I have of my Dad

Pictures capture a moment and freeze it forever, remaining in our lives long after our loved ones are gone. And even if those people are not in the picture, they are a part of it.

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Funny headline: “Military aviation body set up after fatal Nimrod crash”

The obvious question to me was: Who names a military plane Nimrod?

That word must have two meetings, right? So I turned to good old Merriam-Webster for answers.

Main Entry: Nim·rod
Pronunciation: \ˈnim-ˌräd\
Function: noun
Etymology: Hebrew Nimrōdh
Date: 15th century

1 : a descendant of Ham represented in Genesis as a mighty hunter and a king of Shina.

And according to the American Heritage Dictionary at, Nimrod can also be used as an informal term referring to a person as silly, foolish or stupid.

Its informal use probably stems from the phrase “poor little Nimrod,” used by the cartoon character Bugs Bunny to mock the hapless hunter Elmer Fudd, according to

Yet again, Warners Bros humor entertains and educates. Who said cartoons are for kids?

Oxford Word of the Year 2009: Unfriend

Oxford Word of the Year 2009: Unfriend


16 days

I have 16 days left at the job. At the end of this month, I will officially be unemployed and it’s becoming increasingly obvious that I will not land another job. I am stuck with a half-complete revamp of my resume, a dwindling self esteem and a whole bunch of questions.
This week’s highlight: my boss took the rest of the office out to lunch … to check out a coffee shop that I recommended for an event… that a co-worker thought of. So I took a two-hour lunch.
And worked on my resume.

An evening at the ballpark .. gone bad

This is the story about how a drunken night can go from a good time to a bad time to “what the hell happened this time?”

Hoping to shrug off the weighty idea of having to look for a new job, I took a friend up on her offer to watch the last Giants home game. I arrived early, met another friend at the sushi place with a great happy hour. A bottle of sake later, my friend with the invite shows up with her co-worker.

Said friend walks into sushi place, orders up a round of sake bombs. Follows it with another, and another, and another. Oh, and the sushi was late so the waitress gave us a free bottle of sake. Several rounds of sake bombs later, the only logical next step was to go straight to the Irish bar across the street.

And on goes the drinking. Redheaded sluts, Irish car bombs and a couple of clouded thoughts involving the general theme of “why?”

Four innings in, my friend who initially met me at the restaurant taps out for fear of retribution from his waiting girlfriend at home. It probably the smartest decision he ever made. The three us us remaining decide to go to the ballpark because the co-worker had never visited the stadium. We stumble up to the ticket window, get standing only tickets and make our way around the ballpark. We navigate our way to the giant coke bottle and talk drunk co-worker into taking the children’s slide. She goes up the stairs, but never comes down the slide. So I have to go find her and slide down with her. I said a short prayed before pushing off that the drunk co-worker wouldn’t puke on the way down.

The night quickly slipped away after that.

We were asked to leave the park. Yes, you read that right, security nicely suggested we “get your drunk friend out of here.”

But first, a bathroom break.

That’s where the puking started. She puked up her guts. All over the bathroom stall, all over my shoes. I held this chick’s hair and rubbed her back and defended her as woman after woman asked if she was OK.

So as soon as she could stand, security walked us out of the bathroom. Then, because she could not stand, they called in stadium paramedics to get her out in a wheelchair.

They deliver her to the curb next to where the ambulance’s park. We have to get a taxi – at the cost of $80 – to take us home to San Mateo.

So I take the drunk friend and barely alive co-worker into my place. So, co-worker proceeds to puke all over my bathroom. It’s sort of like a scene from the Exorcist, except this time I’m not laughing.

Oh, you think this story is over? You, my friend, are sadly mistaken.

I shuffle off to bed. It is, after all, a Thursday night and some of us have a lame duck job to get to in the morning. And then, I hear the knock on my bedroom door. It’s my friend. She wants to know if I have a shovel. My first thought was that we were going to kill her and bury her in the backyard. I was surprisingly OK with that considering the next bit of information.

The girl crapped, a full-on bowel movement, on my bathroom floor. She pulls down her pants and craps on the floor! Who does that? Who?!

So, my horrified friend (who has never been out drinking with the co-worker) makes her clean up her own crap. Of course, that seems fair. So as the girl is cleaning in her black-out state, she falls into her own poop and smears it along my tub.

She then passes out on my living room floor. She puked a little there too.

She called a cab and was gone by 4 a.m. She lost her phone that night, got a new one the next day and changed her phone number, according to Facebook. She hasn’t talked to my friend since … and they work together.

And that’s how I got kicked out of a ballgame and had a stranger poop on my floor.

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