Thursday, April 26, 2007

Pride of Ownership: Not So Much

I remember when my parents were selling our house when I was a kid. This was before the days of staging, and the itinerant decorative jars of dried pasta and chili peppers. We were living in the place, we were four people, and we had to keep the place spotless for showings. As you can imagine, for at least two of us this was quite a challenge. We were not really about the equity and curb appeal at ages 9 and 5.

Anyway, at the same time the house was on the market, my sister had a pair of electric snoopy scissors--guaranteed to cut a piece of paper like buttah. Among other things.

One day, my sister got bored. She grabbed her Snoopy scissors and the nearest cuttable object and started shredding. Unfortunately, the nearest shreddable material was the living room curtains. My mom came home from work and discovered that her curtains had fringe, and lots of it.

She had a freak fit, and now that I am getting my house ready for market, I can understand why. I get it because I walked into the kitchen today to see Tea wielding a red marker and scribbling away on the table and window. My heart stopped and I saw our profit from the sale dwindling before my eyes. Tea loves to draw with markers. Woo hoo. Fortunately, Gianni's new favorite activity is washing windows. Really. He is mean with the Windex, so I let him go to town. It was like yin and yang personified, one child destroying property while the other attempted to restore it.

Fortunately, we got to the damage early and G did a lovely job. If you need a window cleaner, I can give you a rec. If you need a red wall, I can also oblige.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Psycho Rant of the Day

Hey! Hotel people!

Let me tell you a little about myself. I'm in my 30s. I'm married. I'm a mom. I have a really really great TV at home.


I am on a trip by myself right now. In and of itself, this is so revolutionary and amazing that it's all I can do not to lie on the floor and stare at the ceiling for three days, and then jump on the bed for the remaining day. But that would be humiliating. So I prefer to spend my time doing something slightly more dignified: drinking RILLY good wine and watching TV. The more cheesy or R-rated, the better. There are about a million movies that I need to catch up on and I was looking forward to a nice long visit with Spectravision (or Spanktravision, thank you Tommy Boy, the totally awesome favorite movie that is currently rotting on my TiVo.)

Yet, you seem to be the only hotel ON THE PLANET that doesn't have pay-per-view movies. COME ON. Even those cheapass crackers at Motel 6 have you beat on that. You have a coffee maker. You have nice faux-suede quasi-Western bedspreads. YOU HAVE FRICKIN' WIFI. Can you not afford this little bit of 80s technology for a poor mom who never gets to be captain of the remote?

Speaking of the remote: WHERE THE HELL IS IT? I left my room this morning and it was here. Now, it is not. Surely the housekeeping staff is aware that next to the toilet, the remote is the most important thing in the room. It is my lifeline. To pseudo-crap non-feature-film viewing options, but my lifeline nonetheless.

Yes, I am aware that this is Turn Off the TV Week. My children are strictly observing it. But I am an adult and I DON'T FUCKING CARE. If I can't have feature films, can't I have Celebrity Fit Club? Or The Bachelor: An Officer and a Gentleman? Not without a remote.


Oh wait. It's under the bed. Nevermind.

If I hurry, I can still catch the end of The Cosby Show. I'm such a lucky bitch.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Hummer vs. Prius: This Time It's Personal

I am SO gonna kick your ass!

Whenever we travel, we have our own barometer to determine the political makeup and cultural tone of a town. No, not the Internet. That's for cheaters. We like to count the number of Hummers we see versus the number of Priuses on the road. A high Prius-to-Hummer ratio means lots of Barack Obama, shamans, and green cleaning supplies. A high Hummer-to-Prius ratio? God Bless the USA, and try not to shoot your hunting buddy.

Except you'll RUN OUT OF GAS on the way to do it!!

Of course, in San Francisco, you can see about a thousand Priuses a day. I'll see 20 or so taking Gianni to school. I think there are a few living in our hall closet. The only time you see a Hummer is when one is lost on the way to Sacramento.

There used to be a Hummer in our neighborhood, right around the start of Gulf War II. It was a bright yellow Hummer, and it's vivid paint job looked lovely next to the contrast of black Sharpie graffiti that the owner had to regularly sponge off its body. I generally think vandalizing other people's property is a crapass pussy thing to do. But even I had to admire the creativity that came out in the defiling of the Hummer. People really tried, man. Finally, the owner put a sign on the window that said, "I am part of the noble union of carpenters, I use this car for my JOB, it is necessary, please don't trash it." Because yeah, you have to barrel over a lot of steep rock faces to get to your next remodeling job in Noe Valley. Eventually, people got bored, and later, the Hummer just disappeared. Either the guy got tired of wiping off liberal graffiti or he moved on, finding a flock of his peeps in Dallas or Iraq or the local penis enlargement clinic.

When we decided to move, Hummer vs. Prius was something that concerned us very much. Did Boulder have a good ratio? Were we going to be crushed like grapes by the H-Monsters of Colorado? We were relieved to find that the ratio was overwhelmingly in favor of the small but mighty Prius. We might see a few Hummers here and there, but on the whole the city of Boulder is rockin' the Prius. In fact, I think a fair chunk of Boulderites see even Prius drivers as gas guzzling pigdogs as they ride buy on their bikes. I guess that's better than the alternative.

You wanna know what's scary? Florida. For all kinds of reasons, but when we were there a few weeks ago, our grand total was:

Prius: 4

Hummer: 25!!!!!!

TWENTY FIVE Hummers! Can you believe it?? As if Al Gore didn't have enough of a reason to want to see Florida reclaimed by the sea as a result of global warming. I don't think I've ever been in one place where I've seen so many of them. I mean, we see a lot of Priuses, but there's a difference: one car brings us closer to the collapse of civilization due to oil dependence; and one doesn't.

That is just nuts. If I ever see hell, I know it will look a lot like Florida. But I'm sure to Dick Cheney, hell looks a lot like my living room. So it all evens out.

Yep, saw one of these, too.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Big News. Really Big.

I've been a big slacker. But I've been thinking a lot. For weeks, for months, about heavy stuff and big life decisions. We have been through what I can accurately characterize as the shittiest year of my life (buy me a drink sometime and I'll tell you all about it.) A frivolous CPS visit. A son in danger of being thrown out....of kindergarten. A complete implosion of our Bay Area support system. A major screwing-over by the preschool where my daughter was to start in the fall. And finally, just the regular bullshit that goes along with living here, that seems to be piling higher every year.

This is the same San Francisco where I moved when I was 21. Except meaner. And it's not just me and Rick anymore.

It's been a few months of deliberation and intense soul-searching and some really hard-ass decisions. But at the end of June, we will leave the city for a change of pace in Boulder, Colorado.

Why Boulder? Because it's progressive. Because the schools rock. Because it's not as expensive as San Francisco. Because there are jobs that I could do. Because we may actually see our families more than once a year. And because, if you want to do something for yourself or your children, you just fucking do it. You don't have to look for parking or make a reservation or get on a wait list or turn in an application fee. I don't have to live in fear of an upper-middle-class white woman taking me out because I've encroaced on her spin bike at the JCC. All yours, babe.

Because we think we could be happy here and focus on living, not just surviving.

So, the house goes on the market, and this summer we retrace the route that Rick and I drove when we were just pups and barely knew each other, and didn't know what the city held for us. As it turns out, it held a lot of great things. We have had a great life here. But now it is not our life anymore. As my friend Jill, who moved a few years ago, puts it, "We miss San Francisco, but we were already missing it when we lived there." I could go to the Ferry Plaza, the Exploratorium, the beach, Golden Gate Park, art-house films, and dozens of the best restaurants in the world. But I don't. When I spend the money I'll be saving on tuition to come back, maybe I will.

God, it's hard. We're leaving a lot of history, and our friends who've also been toughing it out. But I feel like I've been fighting for the best of the city since I got out of the car 16 years ago, and I am tired of fighting. I'm ready to have time for all of the things I love in life. There are so many more of them than there were long ago. And for that I feel lucky.

There will be more posts as we get deeper into this adventure. And I'll have to change the fuckin' subhead. But we will survive. We already have.

Monday, April 16, 2007

RIP Vanzetti

I am sad to report that Vanzetti, part of the dynamic fish duo of Sacco and Vanzetti, has moved on to that big fish tank in the sky. Cause of death is unclear, but I'm guessing it has something to do with a vacation, and automatic fish feeder and a little orange fish with an overactive piehole.

Vanzetti was a fine fish; a bit of a drama queen and a huge pig, but who isn't? She is survived by her Life Partner, Sacco, who is zipping around the tank in mourning, or who is just fired up because now he gets all the food to himself.

I spill a little bit of aquarium water on the ground for Vanzetti. RIP, my orange homie.

Burial and complicated Circle of Life explanation to the children will be at 4pm today.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Who's Foolin' Who?

No ass-snapping!

Today is practically a holiday in the Polito house. The rule of thumb around here on April Fools' is: unless you see it, don't believe it. A rule that I promptly forgot this morning, being a little hung over and generally stupid lately. I looked incredulous when Rick told me this morning that the babysitter we hired for Gianni and Tea last night had opened a bottle of our red wine and drank half of it. And then later, Gianni told me that when we'd gone to see our friend John this afternoon, G had noticed a huge tattoo of a panther peeking out from his chest. When you get served by a six-year-old on April Fools' Day, it's officially time to get more sleep.

I did get my own zinger in later, a collaboration with Rick, where we successfully convinced John that I was accepting a lucrative job with the Timber Lobby ("They pay really well!"). We had him going for several minutes before we fessed up. Ah yes, the bullshit was flying on Cole Street today.

Some of Rick's greatest April Fools' jokes have been at work, at the various newspapers where he has been a writer. One time, he and his friends printed up a fake insert (huh-huh-huh) for a porn shop called Pandora's Box and slipped into the Sunday papers of all management editors and the publisher. Another time, he simulated a fake news conference via Media Alert phone where a pack of hyenas escaped from their cages at the zoo and were attacking zoo visitors. Another year, he wrote a fake press release announcing the opening of a hunting ranch for exotic game in Sonoma County. Of course, there was the year when he sent an email from the publisher's account saying that there would be mandatory drug testing the following day. Good times.

So when we saw the New York Times Style Magazine's spring design issue this morning, we couldn't help but assume that the In-Store layout was a joke. It had to be. They featured favorite items from Turpan, a high-end housewares store in Manhattan and, I guess, in LA, and maybe in other places where people are rich and gullible. The owner, Greg Turpan, discussed some of his most beloved products. Among them:

"Turpan lets function take a back seat to form with a miniature car from Playsam ($45), a modernist toy company based in Sweden. "Most toys aren't sensitively designed, but this is something that a child will love and a design-conscious adult can appreciate." Pictured: a small half-moon-shaped wooden car with button wheels, that I think I saw for sale at the Waldorf School Rummage Sale last week for 50 cents. It is so not worth 45 bucks.
What's Swedish for, "You've got to be fucking kidding me?"


Ito-ya pencils from Japan. Not particularly pricey, but does contain the quote, "The experience of a pencil can be the same as that of a Porsche." Um, yeah. When my husband starts buying copious amounts of pencils when he turns 45, I guess it's time for me to worry.

And, the coup de grace:

"Turpan takes as much care selecting cotton dish towels for his store as he does cashmere. His favorites come from Bragard, the venerable French chef's uniform maker. "We like things that cross context," he says. Pictured: towels that look remarkably similar to the ones they used to pass out to us for showers after gym class.

These writeups have to be a joke. Or maybe the joke is that people all hot and bothered about Swedish toy cars and red pencils from this place. I'm reminded of the time that Rick and I went to Niebaum Coppola winery in Napa, owned by THE Coppola, Francis Ford. The wine was great, the grounds were lovely, but the best thing about the whole day was walking into the gift shop and seeing a cup of pens for sale. "FRANCIS' FAVORITE PEN!" the sign said. The pens were perhaps a half-step up from a really decent Uniball roller with a rubber grip. Except that they were 20 bucks each. We could not imagine some joker walking into the gift shop and saying, "This is FRANCIS' FAVORITE PEN. It must be a far superior ball-point pen to all others. Therefore I must have it too. Perhaps I will write the next Apocalypse Now with this flawless writing tool."

Francis' Favorite Pen and the Japanese Red Pencil in a fight: who would win?

Now THIS HAT, I would buy. Cheap at any price.