The World to Which I Belong

 "you must learn one thing, 
the world was made to be free in.

give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong. 
sometimes it takes darkness
and the sweet confinement of your
aloneness to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you."
     from "Sweet Darkness" by David Whyte

Today, I am thankful. Today I am starting to believe and live these words. 

Living freely in the world to which I belong.


Greedy Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrel

Last week PMac and I were planning our Crater Lake camping trip when I showed him the spork/knife I encountered on my Yosemite trip. (These things are awesome, by the way.) He made a stop at REI, and when we set up for dinner he showed me the orange "sporkife" (as he calls it) that he got especially for me. Super sweet.

We had a fantastic campfire dinner, cleaned up, and went to bed. The next morning we realized the camp suds were missing. We figured we'd left them near the water source and someone picked them up. A large group of Russians had taken over all the camp sites around us, and perhaps they decided to keep our soap. Annoying, but we let it go. Which was easy to do because PMac was preoccupied with roasting a corn cob to ashes.

The next night after dinner, I cleaned up and noticed I couldn't find the orange spork I was using. I searched the trash. I searched the fire. I couldn't find it anywhere and was really bummed. Peter told me it was okay, the spork was chillin' with the camp suds. We decided that one of the golden-mantled ground squirrels had stolen them and PMac returned to his attention to burning food parts including the pit from my nectarine.

The following morning I found the camp suds. They were back in the bag where they belonged - the bag both of us had searched multiple times over the previous two days. Seemed like the squirrel decided he didn't want them and brought them back. We hoped the spork might show up before we left, but it didn't happen.

Until yesterday, when I received an envelope containing the following:

Text Reads:
Dearest Monika: 
I wanted to return this spoon to you. I have spent my life at Mazama Campground stealing items from the parks visitors. After a bout of severe indigestion and delerium brought on by drinking Citronela CampSuds, Iw as overcome with remorse when I saw how sad you were for looseing this spoon - such a nice little gift from your boyfrined that I selfishly ran away with. I snuck the Suds back in your bag but missed getting the spoon in before you left us. You and your boyfriend seemed so happy and having such a great time - I am sorry for causing anguish over this lost spoon. Please do come back and see us and I hope you don't take out your anguish on my fellows you see along the highway. Thanks for the bag of nuts (sorry) but what was up with the corn cob and the peach pit?!? 
Now how to get this laptop back to the Russians in E18 without getting caught? 
---happy trails 
(golden mantled ground squirell)

Best. Gift. Ever.
Terrible grammar and spelling and all. You can only expect so much from a ground squirrel.


Growing Up Super Tall

I will write this out better someday, but someday is not now. I'm inspired by the following article:


But I feel like she misses some points:

1. She wasn't tall until high school. I was 6'4" in 8th grade. I haven't grown a bit since. While I may have been popular in one sense, I felt extremely unpopular. People called me sasquatch in elementary school and junior high, boys asked me out as jokes and then laughed when I said okay, the popular girls didn't see me as anything like them...I felt like a complete outsider.

2. My height as a young child meant that I had to act older - always. When I was 5 people thought I was 8, when I was 10 people thought I was 13, when I was 12 local high school seniors asked me out. I had to grow up a little too quickly for my own my good, without the experience and emotional maturity to face the issues presented to me. I ended up dating older men, which probably also screwed with my head.

3. I was never a girl. I was always a tomboy. I had tons of guy friends who never saw me as girly. I had girlfriends but could never enjoy the things they enjoyed (shopping, shoes, crushes on boys taller than me, etc.).

Now, I embrace my height. I LOVE it. But there are still problems:

4. I have to order every pant I've ever owned. And then I have to tailor it. These pants are expensive. When I was broke and working in nonprofits, I couldn't do a damn thing to further myself. Now I have great pants, but when they wear out I have to replace them and it's a bitch. I have to order a bunch of pants, pay for shipping (and there's no such thing as a pair of pants in my inseam for less than $80), try them on, return the ones that down work, pay for shipping again. Yes, I know that shop you love has tall sizes. No, they are not tall enough for me. I have to use sites like longtallsally and longelegantlegs...both of which tailor by height, not style, which means I get maybe one or two pairs of pants per season that work for me. Thank god I even have a style choice now.

5. I have to order shoes. They are not always cute. Sometimes they suck. When I find a pair I love, I buy multiples. I have 4 pairs of the beautiful Nine West black pumps I found specially made for barefoottess.com. I prefer heels. Heels in my height tend to be very very low, or so high they are really meant for trannies. (Nothing against the trannies...lots of love here.)

6. In a bar, at a party, I have to sit if I want to hear the conversation. Unless I'm in a group of tall guys...which again, makes me one of the guys rather than part of the girl conversation.

7. My thighs will ALWAYS be bigger than my date's thighs. Even if he's a rockstar. In fact, I BRIEFLY dated an ex pro football player who was 6'9", and my thighs were still bigger than his. And I was not in a fat phase.

8. I will never ever be anonymous. Never. I can't get away with anything. People remember me. You know how you forget someone's name and you can play it off? I can't...they always remember that I met them and tell me so. Shit.

9. I can never go on a peaceful walk in the city. Someone will always stop me. Most days this is okay. Some days I enjoy it. But some days, you just want to be left the eff alone. Those days, I can't be.

10. Beds are too short, airplanes are too cramped, cars don't have enough room. I just don't fit in this world.

Now for the good:

11. I am always noticed. I always get attention.

12. People feel a connection to me because I offer a non-threatening way to approach me.

13. I'm actually okay at basketball. :)

14. I never have trouble reaching ANYTHING.

15. I am a goddess in developing countries.

16. I am seen as older and more powerful than I am in the workplace.

17. I can carry my own shit without needing help.

18. Being a freak has forced me to embrace who I am. I love me, and I'm so thankful I am me. I just wish maybe I could get better clothes and shoes. :)



13 Takeoffs, 13 Landings, 8 beds, 5 islands, 12 boat rides, and $4400.

I'm tired and broke, but very very happy.


SmileyBits Day 22

1. Overheard last night:
Person 1: :mumbled line about something:
Person 2: "That's what she said"
Person 3: "Why would she say that?"

2. When I moved to SF in 2005 I had a horrible credit score and $30k in credit card debt. I have celebrated the little victories over the years - paying off all the debt, passing the 600 and then 700 marks on the credit score, getting great offers because of my credit, etc. Today, I celebrate the moment when my credit score monitoring program moved my credit score ranking from "good" to "excellent"!!!

3. I apparently was too busy getting ready for Indo to finish this post. Also a smiley :)


SmileyBits Day 21

1. My first Giants game of the season! Someone threw a shoe at the Marlins' outfielder (that part isn't a smileybit, just memorable).

2. I checked the mail and found a bunch of stuff I've been waiting for all in one pile because I missed the last couple days. Love that feeling.

3. Went on another mini-hike this weekend and the knee and foot are both doing okay.

4. Discovered a cute little street in SF I'd never been on before.

5. That moment when a friend chooses to open up just a little more than they have in the past. That happened. Beautiful.


SmileyBits Day 20

1. One last extra night in Tahoe. Waking up under the skylight.

2. Fabulous Thai lunch at Kacha in WC.

3. Came home to an adorable cat who is persistently showing me how much he missed me.

4. Discovered a cute little tapas bar close to my place. Had driven by many times thinking it was a ghetto dive bar, but it was really adorable.

5. Random disco balls.


SmileyBits Day 19


2. Cards Against Humanity is the best game ever.

3. LBK found the most adorable puppy at the Chammy. A teensy border collie/australian shepherd mix just like my beloved Fritzi. When I brought Fritzi home she was this size. Adorable!

4. LBK had me throw the G in the pond to cool him off and try to get him to swim. I had to pick up the 100lb bugger.

5. I played a little basketball for the first time in over a year. 3 on 2, and we still won! 


SmileyBits Day 18

1. Epic Pig Roast at Squaw.

2. I get one more day of this tomorrow.

3. Family Dinner!!! Larb and Thai eggplant shrimp chili pasta.

4. A quarter of a really great oatmeal cookie.

5. At the pig roast, I overheard some guy say, "there are some pretty killer sides here, have you tried the cabbage? it's hella good." That was my cabbage.


SmileyBits Day 17

1. This doodle creation by Beth Reed:

2. Spider 24. He was teensy and climbed up onto my laptop. When I tried to take a picture he ran away, but a few minutes later he came right back up to me.

3. LBK told me she thinks coconut water is disgusting. I thought I was the only one. I thought it was a craze because people liked the taste and there was something wrong with me. Glad to know I'm not alone.

4. Met the most adorable 2 month old Berner pup!

5. The guide for my Borneo jungle trek just lowered by price by $70!


SmileyBits Day 16

1. Women are finally starting to talk about how effing difficult it is to find clothes and shoes when you're tall with big feet.

2. The city was clearer than the East Bay today. Driving across the Bay Bridge into the city this morning, I was a little overwhelmed by how stunning the skyline was.

3. While sitting at Pyramid waiting for my Tahoe ride, a friend surprised me for a brief visit. Scared the bejeezus out of me when he sneaked up behind me, but was very nice to have the time.

4. Friends like Corey who are willing to take care of my sweet Sebastien when I change my plans suddenly.

5. After we got settled into the Tahoe house, LBK came upstairs to tell me there was a tarantula on the ceiling. I bravely, with her support, captured it in a glass. We've been naming them by their number in Spanish (first one was Uno, for example), and this one is Veintitres. I think he needs a Grande or something added, though. Effer is HUGE.


SmileyBits Day 15

1. I enjoy being busy with work.

2. Sunset hike on Shell Ridge.

3. Today, I jogged for the first time in over a year and had no pain.

4. Getting caught in the rain.

5. Familiar sushi dinner.


SmileyBits Day 14

1. Woke up this morning and was reminded that a friend gave me a bandaid to cover a little blister. The smiley part? It was one of those huge knee-sized bandaids for this little spot on my foot. Totally sweet that the friend felt a need to to give me such a big bandaid.

2. Rampage IPA in the Sports Basement parking lot with friends.

3. I LOVE Pluto's salads and stuffing. Soooo good.

4. Got to help Miss A go buy some ski boots. Uber exciting that another friend is up and ready for next season!

5. Catching up with old acquaintances.


SmileyBits Day 13

1. Discovered a new adorable little cafe/bar today. The people at Cafe Prague were great! Definitely want to go back.

2. Spent some time practicing my German this evening.

3. Peanut Butter Chip gelato at Naia.

4. New South Park episodes online.

5. Got to sit in the sun most of the day.


SmileyBits Day 12

1. Brunch at a new spot. Mo's Grill in North Beach. Fantastic pulled pork sandwich.

2. Pop-A-Shot at Mauna Loa!

3. Running into old acquaintances.

4. Another stunningly gorgeous day in the city.

5. Time with old friends.


SmileyBits Day 11

1. I bought my first real backpack! Ready for Indonesia!

2. First time hiking in Briones!

3. Foot did okay on the hike. Not great, but okay.

4. While sitting at Cafe de La Presse, watched a festively-dressed woman on a bike pull up, stop, drink straight out of a water bottle sitting on one of the tables, and ride away.

5. Open and honest conversation about difficult subjects with friends.


SmileyBits Day 10

1. I have a sunroof suntan. When I see the line of tan to white in the mirror, I can't help but laugh.

2. When I was in junior high I heard someone say the word "cacahuete." I thought this was the funniest thing ever and learned how to use it as much as possible. My first full sentence in Spanish was "you are a stupid peanut." (I was highly entertaining to myself at that age.)
Last night, while enjoying a lovely glass of sparking rose with a friend I never get to see, the bartender says loudly "Cacahuete!" out of nowhere. I almost spit out my drink, and then tell him that's MY word. :) We bond a bit, and before we leave, he comes over and says only "Cacahuete" and then walks by. Definitely a smiley moment.

3. Above mentioned sparkling rose. I have a think for sparkling rose.

4. At dinner in the east bay at a nice-ish restaurant, a tall woman in her late 50s or so caught my attention. She was standing outside the restaurant walking around, in a very fancy outfit (sparkly long gown with matching jacket - opera fancy) and very very tall heels and hair. She seemed like maybe she was drunk or got stood up, but she had obviously been very pretty in her day and was dressed for an occasion. We watched her while we ate our dinner, and then as we were leaving she came in and asked me about my height. The woman herself, her outfit, and the fact that I got the opportunity to meet her all made me smile.

5. Finally got to see Cabin in the Woods. Not AS good as I would have expected it to be, but definitely fun and worth the effort. Go see it.


SmileyBits Day 9

1. I made it on time to my morning meeting and found rock star parking. Great way to start a beautiful day.

2. For the first time ever, I visited the Excelsior/Outer Mission. I feel a little more like a real San Franciscan now.

3. A friend showed me a new view of the city.

4. I got to check the curvy part of Vermont St. off my SF explore list.

5. Spent a fantastic afternoon with a friend driving around in the sun and enjoying just being alive and together.


SmileyBits Day 8

1. It's National Stand Tall Week! Great marketing from Long Tall Sally, one of the only shops from which I can buy pants. Short and sweet interview with Arianne Cohen on NY Nightly News.

2. I could have been starting on another disaster project today. Instead, I'm prepping for a pro-bono stint that will allow me a little breathing room.

3. It was a fanstically gorgeous day in San Francisco.

4. The piano player at Cypress takes requests.

5. While I didn't love the movie, watching Hangover 2 with someone who hadn't seen it yet was pretty darn fun.


SmileyBits Day 7

I'm having a hard time with the smiley bits today. I just had a very frustrating and exhausting conversation about my year end reviews at work, and I basically got slammed because of a terrible project that was out of my control. But I am committed to doing this anyway. So here goes:

1. I am thankful for a mentor at work who is willing to talk with me and work with me through things I need to improve.

2. I have an adorable kitty who could not wait for me to get home and is ready to curl up and make me feel needed.

3. Bad tv shows that can distract me from driving myself crazy about work stuff.

4. Colleagues who are in the same boat and vent and let me vent.

5. Great girlfriends and a great dinner.


SmileyBits Day 6

1. Taking the long way:
Guess I could have made it easier on myself
But I, I could never follow
No I, I could never follow
Well, I never seem to do it like anybody else
Maybe someday, someday I'm gonna settle down
If you ever want to find me I can still be found
Taking the long way
Taking the long way around

2. Friends who, despite my recent inability to maintain a proper work-life balance, still know they can ask for help when they really need it.

3. My next client is a local community center and I get to lead the pro bono engagement.

4. The Poquito Picante at Burritt Room. Caveat: sad that Burritt Room has lost a bit of its beauty in gaining a restaurant, a real menu, and more customers.

5. Sara Bareilles:
I'm not the girl that I intend to be
But I dare you, darlin', just you wait and see


SmileyBits Day 5

1. I got to spend the afternoon sitting on the sunny deck of Gold Coast watching skiers contemplate the Palisades. My rigorous research shows that for every 8 skiers who stand at the top of the Chimney whacking the cornice, 1 skier goes down National.

2. I enjoyed Gotye when I heard him on the radio, but after seeing him on SNL, I'm a new avid fan.

3. While at the sinks/mirror in the bathroom at Squaw, another tall chick asked me how tall I was and we started a conversation. She left before I did. When I returned to my friends, one of them was standing with her. Turned out that she had been staying in his ski lease and when she told him she met a super tall chick, he knew it was me. Such a small fun world.

4. I have a new celebrity crush: Geoff Stults. This doesn't happen very often for me, so we'll have to see if it sticks. Can't stop watching The Finder.

5. We took the long way home tonight.


SmileyBits Day 4

1. On male and female friends sharing a bed/cuddling, a friend offered this sage advice: Just make sure that when you're spooning it doesn't turn into a spork.

2. Epic blonde moments. During a heated battle of Apples to Apples, the card "The Wright Brothers" turned up. The newly minted Alpine Barbie said with conviction, "I do love me some Unchained Melody." Much laughter followed.

3. I received a not-quite-yet-deserved initiation into Team Tie Dye from Tie Dye Bill himself, courtesy of Sponge Bob. I feel honored to be included.

4. My career has typically not been one that has involved anyone else in my life. Meaning, usually my word about what I'm working on is taken as gold and my friends, while interested, have very little input, experience, or passion about it because they are not exposed to that world. That was true when I was in philanthropy, and it has been true for some of my projects as a consultant thus far. However, the direction I'm trying to go - toward engagement with emerging markets that both benefits domestic companies and growing economies, does come up occasionally. With the recent FoxConn mass suicide threats, Apple joining the FLA and releasing supplier reports, and Mike Daisy making a giant ass of himself and the entire issue, my major career interest/path is a topic of conversation for everyone else, too. I am fortunate enough to have very smart and aware people in my life, and last night we sat at dinner in a nice restaurant (on the second floor away from the masses) having a heated discussion about outsourcing, working conditions, government involvement, etc. It was daunting, because I'm not used to my friends being wrapped up in my professional interests, but it was exhilarating and revealing.

5. I have a brand new beautiful smile! I broke my jaw when I was 12 and have had a couple of issues with my smile that I didn't like for years. My two front teeth were too big because of badly fitted crowns, and the cuspids were small and displaced, which left gaps. Recently, remnants from the injury forced me to have a tooth removed and an implant put in, and have the bad crowns replaced. This means I got to fix the issues that  were bothering me. It's not final yet, there are still some shaping and shading issues to smooth out in follow up procedures, but for the first time since I was 12 years old I have a smile that fits my mouth and has no gaps. It's nice how being happy with your smile can make you smile all the time. :)


SmileyBits Day 3

1. I have a cat that acts like a dog. Sebastien actually waits for me to get home, meows when I open my door, and runs to come hang out with me. A few minutes ago, he sat on the floor and yelled at me until I moved the multiple computers and books so he had room to jump up and join me.

2. Following #1, my ability to remember that he's just a cat, and he'll be fine on his own while I go about my life.

3. Arrowhead sparkling water. I think I may have a problem.

4. Mango curry chicken salad at Bistro 69.

5. Beautiful clear skies on a night when I thought I'd be facing driving through a blizzard. Thank you, rain/snow gods for this brief respite. You can start again when I'm safely in bed at, oh say, 2am.


SmileyBits Day 2

1. Friends who brave the Bay Bridge in the pouring rain to come hang out with me.

2. My new adorable comfy mini hoodie robe.

3. The ability to mute the conference call so I can go on with my day while other people yell at each other over things that have no relevance to me.

4. Thunderstorms and lightning in a city with no thunderstorms.

5. That I can throw a suitcase and a box on the floor and my cat suddenly loves me more.


SmileyBits Day 1

I'm not exactly a proponent of making commitments online. Seems like I'm usually setting myself up to fail.

I decided to make this commitment, though, because so much of how I derive my happiness is about sharing with others.

So starting today, until I leave for Indonesia in May, I'm publishing what I'm gonna call the SmileyBits. I want to identify and share the little things in my life that make me feel thankful, joyful, and peaceful.

So to start:

1. The woman at the deli counter at Mayflower Market. She's clearly the mother/aunt to the boys who work in the store, and she's got the best smiling eyes. Something in her greeting makes me feel nurtured every time I place an order.

2. Friends discussing how much space they need in a relationship: "I'd like to get married, but I'm afraid that means I'll probably have to share my bedroom."

3. Buy one get one half off on giant bags of expensive cat food:

4. Duct tape and my ability to make a cheap IKEA drawer last at least a few more months.

5. This chick: http://laughingsquid.com/airplane-lavatory-self-portraits-in-the-flemish-style/


The Life of a Tall Girl

This video is SO true!

They missed a couple of my favorites:
"Are your parents tall?"
"How tall are your parents?"
"I wanna climb that tree!"
"I'll climb that!"


TGIF - Chaotic Communication

I left Hawaii on Wednesday and had a 2 hour layover in Honolulu. I stopped in at Gordon Biersch for a sandwich and had a bit of difficulty getting my order across. The exchange went something like this (edited for grammatic understandability):

Me: "I'd like the Kalua pork sandwich, please."

Bartender chic with thick accent: "French fries or coleslaw?"

Me: "coleslaw."
Me: "Actually, can I get a side of fries, too, please?"

Bartender: "You can't have a side of fries. You can have a side of coleslaw."

"I can't get a side of fries?"

"No, just coleslaw."

"Okay, can I have fries with my sandwich then, and an extra side of coleslaw?"

"No. We don't do fries because garlic fries are an appetizer."

"I don't want garlic fries."

"You can't do a side of garlic fries."

"I don't want garlic fries. I want regular fries."

"We don't have a side of garlic fries because we have the appetizer."

"I don't want garlic fries."

"You can't have garlic fries on the side."

"I don't want garlic fries. I want coleslaw and regular fries."

"We don't do fries, just coleslaw."

"Didn't you just ask me if I wanted fries or coleslaw with my sandwich?"

"Yes, with your sandwich."

"Okay, so can I get fries with my sandwich?"

"Yes, okay."

"And can I get an extra side of coleslaw?"


"Okay, thanks. I'd like a Kalua pork sandwich with fries, plus an extra side of coleslaw."

"You can't do garlic fries."

"I don't want garlic fries, can I have regular fries?"

"We don't do sides of garlic fries because we have the appetizer."

"You are making this so complicated. I want a Kalua pork sandwich with regular fries as a side. Ok?"


"I would also like to add a side of coleslaw. Ok?"


"Ok. Thanks."

She goes to the computer and inputs the order. I get scared that she'll spit in my food. Next time she walks by I say, "Thanks for taking care of that, I know it was confusing."

"Ok. You're welcome."

Smiling, I say, "Don't want to have garlic breath on the plane, you know?"

"Oh. Yes." As she jumps over the computer and changes my order.


That is exactly how I felt in every conversation at work today.



Marriage Baggage

A quote from Presumed Innocent, by Scott Turow:

After almost twenty years of sleeping with Barbara, I no longer went to bed with only her. I lay down with five thousand other fucks; with the recollection of younger bodies; with the worries for the million things that supported and surrounded our life: the corroding rain gutters, Nat's unwillingness to study mathematics, the way Raymond, over the years, had come to greet my work with an eye its defects rather than successes, the particular arrogant glint that came into my mother-in-law's eye when she discussed any person outside her immediate family, including me. In our bed, I reached for Barbara through the spectral intervention of all these visitors, all that time.