Monday, May 17, 2010

I've been working... really

So, the lack of posts lately has to do with my return to a day job, albeit temporary. In my downtime, I have pounded out a lot of stuff for my Etsy shop but have been unable to list any of it due to never being home during prime photographing hours. Hopefully I'll be able to post a belated Etsy Monday list soon. In the meantime, I have enjoyed being back on a strict routine as mandated by my working-for-the-man schedule and have even enjoyed the exhaustion that comes with it. We'll see how long that enjoyment lasts...

I'm also adjusting to life as a full-time commuter via public transportation. Whereas in LA I was able to just get in the car and go, here my morning is a series of walking (okay, sometimes running if I'm a bit behind schedule), shuttle buses and BART trains. Mileage-wise, my commute into the city is almost identical to my former LA commute into downtown, but even with the referenced walking, shuttle buses and BART trains, the new one takes about 15 minutes less and saves me about 20% (based on cost of gas vs. BART fare; in reality, it saves me more as I would have to pay about $35 per day to park in SF. It cost about $40 per day to park in downtown LA, but my old firm paid for my parking space; hence, I have left parking out of the equation). My pie-in-the-sky notions of being able to read or write while publicly transporting are, as of yet, unrealized as the train is always so crowded by the time I board that I'm lucky to find an empty handrail to grip onto. However, I see other people with superior balancing skills reading books while in such precarious positions and I am determined to work myself up to that point.

Sometimes when I see Vespas buzzing around up here I am sad I sold my sweet red wonder back in LA, but I have to be honest that I have not yet considered buying a replacement. Who needs a Vespa (and a second insurance payment) when you've got the free Emery-go-round? And while reading a book while aboard a rush-hour BART train might be difficult, it is next to impossible and highly inadvisable while driving a Vespa.

Friday, May 7, 2010

In Chicago? Visit my stuff at Renegade Handmade.

So, I blogged a bit about the Renegade Craft Fair, but did you know the megafairs are run by folks who own a brick-and-mortar shop in Chicago called Renegade Handmade? I did, and so I was super excited when they contacted me about selling some of my stuff in their store. Be sure to check out their darling online shop packed with crazy-cute and creative finds (only a few of my things are listed there) and, if you're in the area, definitely drop by.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

What are those black knobs for again?

This is not a cooking blog and I am not a cook. However, I think that, somewhere in the middle of constantly blogging and/or tweeting about restaurants I like and shoving my goal to eat out less in everyone's face, I have given people the false impression that I do not even know how to cook. I do, I swear.

Cooking for one is an odd thing. In the past, it has resulted in my throwing away tons of unused food because what tastes good for the first time on Sunday night never tastes good for the fourth time on Wednesday night. My present success on the home-eating front has resulted from the fact that (1) I now have an entire freezer compartment to myself, and (2) when I cook a "regular" (i.e., family-sized) recipe, I immediately freeze at least half of it for future use.

So, as proof of my basic culinary skills, I have tried to photograph a few things I've made over the past several weeks. These photos make it look like I never eat vegetables when I eat plenty. I guess when I'm having a veggie-centric meal, I assume it's not a photo-worthy occasion. Also, as these photos demonstrate, I don't have the best lighting circumstances in my kitchen and I prefer to eat on appetizer plates. So be it.

Pot roast. I messed one up when I was cooking for family over Christmas, but of course this one for little ol' me turned out perfect. I don't like to eat a ton of red meat, so I immediately shredded and froze the majority of it for future use in enchiladas, etc. The rest I recyled on leftover night into delicious barbecue sandwiches:

Mmmmn... Had a bag of spinach that was on the verge of wilting, and I can't stand it once it reaches that point, so I cooked it up and made it into a deep-dish version of my pizza bianca recipe with a cornmeal crust and smothered it in blender-made marinara.

And these are some lovely pupusas I made with a sweet potato and cheese filling. I'm pretty sure sweet potato is not a traditional pupusa filling (any input, Mrs. Dub?), but I had a lonely one that I needed to use, so I nuked it, mashed it and mixed it with cumin and other seasonings before loading it into the dough. They were so tasty!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

New People

As an admitted Japanophile, I can't get enough of New People in San Francisco's Japantown. In addition to a full theater that runs Japanese films, New People has a cafe, an art gallery and two distinctively different merchandise floors. On the lower level is an expected but vast assortment of pop culture and anime-inspired bags, toys, tees and office supplies. The second level, however, contains two fashion boutiques, one of which is for the premiere Japanese Lolita brand Baby the Stars Shine Bright ("BTSSB"). If you are not familiar with the Gothic Lolita style, then get yourself a-Googlin'. I am far too old for such things now, but if this had been the rage ten (okay, fifteen) years ago, I fear you would have seen me traipsing down the street in my Alice in Wonderland inspired frock, curly wig, bonnet and parasol. Indeed, when I sew clothes for myself they always end up looking like this somehow (which is why they are rarely worn). However, I intentionally drew the inspiration for my latest handbags from this movement's love of lace, skulls and sweetness.

So, I had seen the BTSSB clothes online and in the Gothic and Lolita Bible, but it was a real treat to see them in person at New People. I assumed they would look very cheap up close but was amazed by their excellent construction and attention to detail. Being in the showroom felt like being in a fable princess's closet (a feeling that was promoted, in no small part, by the fact that they were all an adorable Japanese size 2). Unfortunately, from the quizzical looks on the salesperson's faces, I think I was their first truly interested customer in weeks.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The top five ways I made a fool of myself at the Whitney Awards

This just in: I am a winner.

This also just in, albeit for the millionth time in the past thirtysomething years: I am a loser.


Early this year, my little self-published novel was named as a finalist for a Whitney Award in the Best General Fiction category. The Whitney Awards are for fiction written by LDS authors. If you didn't know, I am an LDS author. I don't usually address my faith on this blog for a variety of reasons, but there you have it. However, I do not write "LDS fiction." None of the characters in Gravity vs. the Girl are either expressly or implicitly LDS and I made no attempt to incorporate my religious beliefs into its theme. Lucky for me, the Whitneys acknowledge authors of both LDS-themed and general work. Indeed, if you read the roster of finalists, you will probably recognize the names of a lot of nationally best-selling authors that you did not previously realize were LDS. You will also wonder how on earth I ended up on there. I honestly have no idea. If you are one of the people who nominated me, THANK YOU.

But if you know me in real life and you still nominated me, I must question your sense of social responsibility. As the title of this post suggests, I kind of made a disaster out of the Whitneys, and I am holding you personally responsible for failing to foresee this outcome. This list could easily be seventy entries long, but I've got stuff to do (I do!), so I'm limiting it to five:

5. I got a cheap hotel. The Whitneys were held in Provo, Utah--on the fifth anniversary of my graduation from law school in that fine city and the day I was last there. Because my mom (who attended with me) and I had some friends and family to see in Salt Lake City, I chose to stay halfway between the two in Draper, just a stone's throw from the state penitentiary. It wasn't a Motel 6 or Super 8 or anything that bad--it was just a member of the economy brand in a respectable chain. The walls were paper thin and children's high-pitched voices echoed down the hallway and people were walking around upstairs all night and I didn't get any sleep. I found myself fantasizing about bunking at the prison instead, what with the concrete cells and lack of children and guards to beat people into observing lights out. Needless to say, my energy and mood suffered the whole weekend.

4. I didn't attend the LDS Storymakers Conference. The Whitney Awards ceremony caps off a weekend-long writing conference. When I made my reservations a few months ago, I anticipated having a legal job by now. Since recently-hired associates generally aren't allowed to take any time off, including Saturdays, I decided to forgo the conference but gamble that I could make the awards, even if I had to fly in hours before. When I didn't get a job, I neglected to change my plans. Not only did I miss out on what sounds like an awesome conference, but I showed up at the awards without the bonding experience everyone else enjoyed. It was like crashing somebody else's prom and then wondering why you weren't crowned the queen.

3. I didn't buy a new dress. Given my love of shopping and new dresses and valid excuses for both, I am still not quite sure how this is possible. In short, I was bombarded in the week preceding the Whitneys with new church responsibilities and business for my arts and crafts goods. The day before I left, I was running my own personal sweatshop out of my apartment to fill a big order (more on that later this week). I packed a back-up outfit but convinced myself I would have time to buy the real deal in Utah. And then I didn't have time. The backup outfit became the real outfit. And it wasn't even an outfit, it was just a mess of black. With my dark hair and fear of tanning salons, it's not hard for me to come off a tad goth in perma-highlighted Utah, but in that outfit I looked like I was attending a Wiccan-Mennonite interfaith funeral. The only upside is that, technically, I still owe myself a new dress and, to be fair, a pair of shoes and some earrings.

2. I failed to take advantage of networking opportunities. The Whitney Awards committee was kind enough to sit me by two best-selling authors. And yet I was so tired, unconferenced, inappropriately dressed and generally feeling inadequate that I completely squandered the opportunity to pick their brains and get the inside scoop on their publishing successes. Rather, I talked a lot about being a lawyer because it's the only thing about which I feel I have any expertise. This prompted one of the famous authors to ask me if I was interested in abandoning the law and writing full-time. The truth: ABSOLUTELY! THE SOONER THE BETTER. The answer I gave him: No, writing's just a hobby. He also told me he would read my book because he had met me. My reply: No, don't read my book. What is wrong with me?! I'm pretty sure that if I had attended the LDS Storymakers Conference, one of the very first things I would have learned is that you should always encourage people to read your book, especially if they are best-selling authors.

1. I didn't prepare an acceptance speech. Long ago, when I was an optimistic youth working in the film industry, I had a sort of mental acceptance speech prepared for the moment when I became the first woman to win a Best Director Oscar. Why I concocted that speech but neglected to prepare one for an award for which I was actually nominated is beyond me. As I was donning my all-black getup in the hotel, my mom asked me what I would say if I won. I rattled off a list of things that I didn't remember five minutes after I said them and I don't remember now. As I expected, I lost the Best General Fiction Award to Jamie Ford for Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet and figured I was off the hook as far as speeches were concerned. Then, to my complete surprise and, I'm sure, the outrage of many, I won the Best Novel by a New Author award. I actually tied in this category with Dan Wells for I Am Not a Serial Killer (which is ironic, because "I am not a serial killer" is one of the daily affirmations I say in the mirror each morning). They handed us our awards and asked me to speak first.

Here is the award as they handed it to me. It is glass and the size of a standard book.

When I got to the podium, I set the award down on it and soon discovered it opens up like this:

Thus, my strongest memory of my rambling excuse for an acceptance speech is not anything I said but rather nervously playing with this award by opening and closing it over and over like an idiot. My mom's summary of my speech: You did fine. But you didn't say any of the things we talked about at the hotel. In retrospect, it probably would have been better if I delivered my Best Director speech, however irrelevant. Now that Catherine Hardwicke has broken the gender barrier, I don't really need it anymore. Fortunately, Dan saved the day by following me with a super witty and, I'm assuming, prepared speech. He probably learned how to do it at the Conference.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Etsy Monday

(So, this covers two Mondays, as I neglected to blog about my new items last week. And... there you have it.)