Maine, Virginia . . . and California

In the sixth (seventh?) grade, my best friend came out to me and one of our other friends. She was in love with a female friend of hers. She pined for her. She wanted nothing more than to be her girlfriend. This was obviously something that she had been struggling to confess for a long while.

This girl had been one of my best friends for years. She ended up at a different high school, and then at a college across the country, where she is still living and working and loving – and she also happens to be a lesbian. Facebook tells me these things. I’ve been happy to follow her over the past couple of years, to know that she’s working hard at an admirable job and living a fulfilling, giving life.

One of my dearest friends from college is a gay man. I’ve been his friend since he met his first official boyfriend; his first great love; his first great heartbreak; his first “this is the real deal.” We’ve been through a lot together over the years, have had some wonderfully fun times, and continue to maintain a solid friendship here in San Francisco. He is incredibly smart, hilarious, kind, and open-minded. One of his ex-boyfriends remains as a friend of mine to this day – he even came with me to the Bonnaroo Music Festival back in 2007.

Another one of my dearest friends from college is a gay man. He’s easily one of the most warm-hearted, hard-working, intelligent people I’ve ever known. The fact that he associates with me as a good friend makes me proud, makes me want to be a better person, as I admire him on so many levels. He inspires me, and many others.

And that is just scratching the surface. I have other friends from over the years that identify as gay – all wonderful, fun, lovely, intelligent, hard-working people, trying to make it in this world, just like me. The people we meet in our lifetimes ultimately shape us, make us who we are, inspire us to move forward. I’m proud of all the people who have shaped me, and continue to do so.

To many people in this country, my friends are second-class citizens. Maine, Virginia, my own home state of California . . . it makes me heart hurt.

Can this just be over now? Can these people who vote against gay marriage, with their ridiculously bigoted, close-minded views, just fucking get over it and move on? And if marriage is so goddamn sacred, why is divorce legal?

Reading is for winners

[Edit 2011: Stopped updating over time, sorry]

I’ve always been a big fan of reading as a hobby – in my pre-high school years, in particular, I remember being a very avid reader. However, once school started requiring more academic reading and I became more involved in after-school activities, my casual reading habits fell by the wayside. Even after graduating from college, I still didn’t read as much as you’d think; I just couldn’t seem to focus and/or make the time to re-instate reading as a regular hobby.

After moving to San Francisco and spending an hour a day on BART commuting to and from Berkeley, however, I’ve fully re-embraced the reading bug. I now find time even when I’m not on BART to tear through some really great books.

After a suggestion from a friend, I’ve decided to compile the following list of books read thus far in 2009, which I’ll update as I go along. I have several books on my shelf to tackle next, although I’d like to make a goal of incorporating more non-fiction into the mix, as well as more female authors.

Books read in 2009 (not necessarily in chronological order) –

Currently reading –

The Handmaid’s Tale,’ by Margaret Atwood (re-reading – the last time I read it was in high school, and I loved it)

I’d recommend any of the books listed above, although ‘The Road’ has definitely been my favorite thus far.

Eating green = eating local

This post on BlogHer made me think about my own eating patterns, and just how local they may or not be.

On the one hand, since moving to San Francisco, I’ve found that the majority of my grocery shopping is done via walking or using public transit. This is because a) it’s more convenient to stop somewhere off of BART on my way home from work in Berkeley (say, to the Trader Joe’s in Rockridge or the Whole Foods in SOMA, although that place kinda sucks), and b) it’s a pain in the butt to get my car in and out of my apartment garage and to drive anywhere in the City.

However, my purchasing habits are not necessarily influenced by locality, particularly for produce (I tend to go for what’s cheap and convenient). So while I’m offsetting my carbon output by not driving, I may be reversing the effects by not keeping a closer eye on where my food is coming from.

It was almost the opposite from when I lived in Oakland. I got a lot of produce and other miscellaneous items at local farmer’s markets, but otherwise, I almost always drove to various grocery stores. Then again, I’ve been cooking much more since moving to SF, making the most from the food I buy and stretching out leftovers for as long as they’ll last; when I lived alone while in the East Bay, I definitely let a lot more food go to waste.

So what’s to be done? I may go back to a project I started last year, when I created a Google Map of Bay Area farmer’s markets in hopes of checking more out when possible:

[View Bay Area Farmer’s Markets in a larger map]

I’ll likely revise it to cater it more towards my new City dwellings, and to remove any markets that are just too far from work or home to justify the cost/distance. Also, this article on Cooking Light spotlights in-season produce and provides recipes, which is quite helpful.

Ash Reiter – it’s quite the small world

I noticed during one of the trainings for BAGRC that one of my fellow volunteers looked awfully familiar. And I was right – as it turns out, we’re both from Sebastopol and both attended the local high school (Analy High School, actually pronounced “ann-a-lee.” Yeah it looks like anal-y, blah blah blah – ooh look, it’s on Wikipedia!). We also both went to UC Santa Cruz, although we never ran into each other, and now we both live in Oakland. Small world. She did instrument instruction for the week and I worked as a band manager, and the whole week was amazing, etc. etc.

Then I return to the real world this week, do work stuff, peruse the internets, whathaveyou. And I’m searching for new bands for the Deli SF’s new Artist of the Month poll, and I see Ash Reiter in our band listings . . . wait, what? The same Ash Reiter with whom I went to high school, with whom I was just spent a week chasing around guitar-slinging 8-year-olds? Wait, she was featured last month on And wait, woah, her music is really really GOOD!

Her folksy tunes are absolutely beautiful, sweet, and wise. Her voice has a Feist-meets-Mirah-meets-Cat Power vibe: lightly angelic & warm, with enough whiskey-soaked edges to create a sense of depth and mystery. I can’t wait to hear more. In the meantime, I’ll be listening to her Daytrotter and MySpace tracks – maybe you ought to do the same.