Saturday, January 10, 2009

fire & ice

i didn't believe the people who told me, when i first moved here, that boulder winters are 'mild.' ha ha, whatever, crazy colorado person, i said. but surprisingly, winters haven't been all that bad. sure, i should probably get studded snow tires/chains/a car that can actually go up my driveway, but i'm getting along. i actually like it! i get all stupidly tail-waggingly excited when i experience a new-to-me, different kind of snow – those big, wet flakes you can almost hear hitting the ground, the dry pellety kind that looks like studio-set fakery, or ghostly flurries swirling through the air and down the streets.

my porch, sunday

it snowed over the weekend, and i drove to denver by myself on saturday night to see a show – my first time driving on the highway in snow, no mishaps. by tuesday most of it had melted after a couple of sunny days.

on wednesday afternoon, i was trying to get an assignment done but had run out of food, so i bundled up against the 65mph gusts screaming down the valley and started driving down to the grocery store. but there was a cop blocking the split in the road leading downtown. apparently there was a fire up the road, and if i got back from the store quickly enough, i'd be allowed back to my house. so i continued into town, but when i saw another roadblock at the bottom of the hill, i turned around and went back home to rethink the whole grocery idea.

good thing, because it turns out we were all required to vacate our homes shortly thereafter. i spent half an hour gathering up a few important sentimental items – artwork, jewelry and personal relics, passport, winter coat, external hard drive – and waited for my neighbor to come home and get his dog. he returned, we chatted about the chances of the fire coming anywhere near us, and then i decamped to monkey's place downtown.

later that evening, because i was antsy about the house, we came back to the bottom of the hill to see what we could see, which was this:

olde stage fire, wednesday

my house is in the valley on the other side of that ridge, but the fire was burning slowly and had a complete containment line around it, and the wind was blowing in the opposite direction as the valley. from the news reports, it sounded as though the firefighters were making it a priority to defend property and let the grass burn, and so far only a couple of buildings had gone up in flames. nothing i could do, so i went to bed and slept fine.

next day, i worried and worked distractedly. my road was the last to be opened back up on thursday night. i'd tried coming up earlier to see if i could wheedle the cop into letting me through – that's my house right there, see? i said, but got the apologetic no-go. still, i could see the house still standing and couldn't see any smoky spots nearby, so: whew. but i hadn't actually been to the house in the daylight until today. this is my mailbox (across the street), and in the background is my neighbor's house, with charred grass almost all the way to their deck. that is – how you say? – too close for comfort.

my mailbox, today

thanks for all the kind thoughts and check-in calls and messages; it sounds trite, but i felt fine about losing everything if it were to happen. i'd still have all of you.

happy new year!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

snow days

8 inches of snow + 50 feet of driveway + 1 shovel = great 45-minute workout

after a night and day of beautiful snowfall early this week, i had to go to the hardware store and post office, so i warmed up the car, brushed the snow off all the windows, and attempted to plow through the 8 inches of snow on the driveway. heh heh! nuh-uh.

so i had to dig myself out to the road. after shoveling my way down the driveway to the snowplowed road (breaking into a full-on, shirt-soaking sweat), driving my 2WD car down the hill and along icy and mud-slushy roads was kind of stressfully exciting.

later that night when i left the house again, a tow truck was parked two driveways down the hill, lights flashing, driver waving emphatically for me to get on the wrong side of the road. which i did. which made my tires screech out some previously unheard and scary noises on the crunchy ice and my brakes kinda not work. which made me think, hmmm, that ain't good... about 100 feet farther down, there was a big 4x4 that landed conk in the roadside ditch on a curve that the driver apparently had taken a leetle too fast (as in, 7mph).

hmmm, maybe i shouldn't be driving right now since i don't know WTF i'm doing... i mused, but kept creeping down the road because i was too scared to attempt driving UP the hill. (in the end, that was a good decision, because according to my neighbor, several cars got stranded on the road on the way up to my house that night. one of them took out our mailbox as they slid. bye-bye, mailbox!)

and then, on my way to my oh-so-distant destination downtown, i was just getting used to navigating icy roads – 'drive as if you can't stop,' monkey wisely advised – and feeling my adrenaline subsiding a little when lo, before me lay the 9th street hill that i have biked up in sunnier weather. this hill goes up one long block, and biking up it requires some effort. just as i reached the bottom of this hill, i thought to myself, hmmm, maybe i shouldn't be driving up this hill since it's kinda steep on a bike... and then gunned the engine and at an unbelievably low speed i made it about 2/3 of the way up before finding myself hovering in place. there wasn't enough room to make a U-turn, and cars came up behind me eventually as i flashed my hazards and continued trying to claw my way up this hill, my leg re-adrenalized and doing a little freaked-out jitterbug.

these other cars (all 4WDs as is the custom) passed me in varying states of slip-sliding control in order to make it up the hill themselves, as i switched through lower gears and alternated between flooring it and barely touching the gas, and wondered how the HELL i was gonna get up this hill, and how maybe i should just put it in neutral and coast backwards and hope for the best. one more dude in a 4WD passed me as i tried talking myself down (up?), starting to sweat, and then he parked at the top of the hill, jogged down the sidewalk without making eye contact, got behind my car, and PUSHED it 50 feet up the hill.

i screamed 'THANK YOOOOOUUUU!' out the window without stopping, for fear of losing momentum, and then wrote a craig's list rave for him the next day.

i believe it is now time to get snow tires.

Monday, November 03, 2008

post-halloween silly scariness

hee heeeee... silly boulderites with their naked pumpkin run. i don't know what i love more – that there's a man with a bullhorn informing the drunken crowd that there are compost bins on the north side of the courthouse, or that the arrest of naked people sparked such an impassioned (but dude, peaceful!) protest.

here in tokyo it's tuesday morning. i sent in my ballot weeks ago but am nervous about election day. have you heard the recording of sarah palin getting crank-called by two canadian DJs pretending to be nicolas sarkozy? she has no idea she's being played until they actually run out of material and tell her it's a prank. listening to it is kind of painful; i've met high school kids who are vastly better-spoken and more intelligent, informed and worldly than this woman.

it's probably a good thing i can't find any candy corn here, or i'd be gorging on waxy sugar out of major anxiety. instead, i will preemptively buy a bottle of bubbly for tomorrow and envision the most desirable outcome.

...and just cuz, wassup and the 2008 version.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

circle of jello

back in august while the DNC was convening in denver, it so happened that some dudes i was hanging with were friendly with a certain jello biafra, who spoke at a ralph nader rally and later met us for dinner at a spot that gets a no vote for its food but a yes vote for tango. well, jello got stuck sitting next to me all night, which proved what a fucking square i am, which is okay because i'm also not an insufferable crank. but neither am i a venerable punk icon* channeling his anger about politics in a totally constructive way, hey.

la de da, fast-forward a week when TK came out for a visit and he and monkey and i went camping and hiking at rocky mountain national park for a few days. on our first afternoon we went on a hike to cub lake, and just as we were about to turn around because dusk was falling, we saw a bear! (my first.)

a bit blurry, since i was torn between looking at my camera screen and looking at the bear. we thought it was within a football field away.

then TK went home, i wrote a bunch, squeezed the life out of my last few days in boulder as summer gave way to autumn, and then hurriedly threw stuff in my duffel and spent a week in california before rushing over to tokyo to spend two months. whew.

thursday night, a friend here invited me to a small musical performance by a french singer named camille. they held the performance inside the brasserie at l'institut franco-japonais, where my friend works, and the showcase began with an interview (which i somewhat understood as it was being translated back-and-forth from french to japanese). then camille sang a few songs with two of her backing guys, who voiced some percussion and basslines, and the whole thing was so great that i bought a ticket for the next night's show at a club in shibuya.

so in the bigger venue – though clubs in tokyo are notoriously small – and eight people on stage, the show had a completely different, bigger, freer energy. all the singers and musicians were very much dancers and percussionists, stomping, gesturing, vocalizing, using their bodies as instruments, as well as singing or beatboxing. camille's own songs** are wonderful and funny and sung with a beautiful voice that can go from breathy to soulful to operatic.

and then she did a cover of the dead kennedys' 'too drunk to fuck,' making her cute little translator get up on stage and sing-translate the chorus into japanese. jello might've recoiled at the perversity of this tiny japanese woman repeatedly yelling 'too drunk to fuck!' in japanese, but i think he would've found it as awesome as everyone else did.

full circle! ta da!

*turn down the volume if you click that link at work

**and fast-forward to around 4:30 if you have a short attention span

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

bush in beijing

our prez representing the amurkin people for all to see, internationally. whee! (sigh.)
'... the president doesn't have to consume actual alcohol to act like a bumbling fraternity president. Still, it's worth noting that Bush has been doing a funny/terrifying impersonation of a drunk president for all the press photographers at the Olympics.'
i think 'funny/terrifying' sums up these photos nicely.

all of the links in that article go to the same photos, but the captions in this one are pretty hilarious. but cringeworthy. but hilarious.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


it doesn't feel quite so bad being stuck inside trying to meet deadlines when you can glance out your back window and see this sort of scene:

...or this:

i'm a little concerned for this teeny-tiny guy (look how small, next to that pine cone!), since he seems pretty comfy hanging out right by my front door, out in the open. is he an orphan, or sick, or just at the age where mom kicked him out of the nest and he has to figure out how not to get eaten or run over? for now i'm just leaving out a couple of carrot slices and concentrating on the cuteness.

Friday, June 20, 2008

people vs rocks

next time i start complaining about my line of work, please just roll your eyes indulgently (as if you don't already) and remind me, 'grand canyon, bitch!' i've been to some awe-inspiring and unique places in the world, but some of the surreal landscapes gracing northern arizona and southern utah are enough to make you wanna start a geology PhD in mormon country (horrors!). but look:

lower antelope canyon, arizona

zion, utah

bryce canyon, utah

descending from the north rim to the inner gorge, grand canyon

colorado river, on the ascent to the south rim, grand canyon

as i left utah wednesday morning, i stopped to put gas in the car and get orange juice in a small town north of bryce canyon, called panguitch. the gas station owner, a tall, white-moustachioed fellow in his late 50s or so, asked me how i was doing that morning. 'great!' i said (in an uncharacteristically chipper tone of voice for that early in the morning), 'how are you?' he said oh, he was just fine, and then peered out at my car, and i wondered just how racist he might be, or how much he might hate big-city jerk tourists, or how much he might loathe volvo drivers. then he said, 'maybe you can help me with a little poll i'm taking. would you mind if i asked who you'll be voting for in november?'

oh. huh? 'obama,' i said immediately, wondering what he'd have to say about that. 'you know,' he said, 'not one person i've polled has told me they're voting for a republican candidate. i'm voting for obama, too. surprises you, doesn't it?' he grinned. i beamed back at him and said it did surprise me. i asked him how long he'd been taking the poll and he told me two months. he asks every single person who walks in, unless they're from utah, because, 'as you can guess, people around here vote pretty...predictably.' he then told me that one 74-year-old woman he'd asked had told him she was voting for obama because the war was horrible and incomprehensible and though she (like this gas station owner) had been a lifelong republican, she just couldn't abide the damage they'd already done. well, that gave me something to muse over as i plowed through utah. you really have to assume people are going to be better than you think they are. of course, then i walked out of the gas station with a little smile on my face and had a middle-aged woman give me the disapproving up-and-down once-over. people! they make it hard to assume the best sometimes.

rocks, on the other hand...