Photo by Jen Maiser
A student and I were talking in my office right before the semester ended, chatting about books and Facebook and the Internet, when he asked me if I had ever read the “Missed Connections” section of Craigslist. My student was especially fascinated by the long posts that people sometimes write there; though he didn’t use the word “journal,” he remarked how strange and sort of interesting it was that people would be chronicling their feelings for someone else, journal-like, in this impersonal, electronic forum for anyone to read.
I think most everyone has checked “Missed Connections” at least once or twice–if for no other reason than to see what it’s about. I’m a more frequent visitor to that section than most; though I don’t check it every day, I read it regularly–not to see if anyone’s posted a message for me, but because I like the messages on their own for the kind of artifacts they are: snapshots of a fantasy in progress, a printed record of an encounter so striking that the writer has imbued it with a cosmic significance. Continue reading
I’m trying to be more short form, so if you’re hungry for shorter posts inspired by the free time I have during this, the summer of my unemployment, visit my tumblr, “Lesser Pursuits.”
Much of my year of teaching at a large urban high school is now just a blur of half-remembered chaos, but there are a few moments which have stuck in my mind with a sharpness and clarity that make me suspect they will remain with me forever. One of those moments involved my student DeeDee coming up to my desk and saying in a loud voice for everyone to hear, “Um. I put my tampon in REALLY far this morning, and now I can’t get it out.” She pretended to try to stifle her laughter, while the other students shouted, “Ew!” or laughed hysterically.
At the time, it was a challenge, a way of hazing the new teacher, testing the mettle of the short, nerdy, glasses-wearing white girl who was in way over her head. It was a daily game between my students and me, one they might have named, “Let’s see if she calls me on my shit.” The game lasted several rounds and many months, but I guess I must have won somehow: Months later, during a break from school, I ran into DeeDee downtown when we were both out shopping. When she spotted me, she ran up to me yelling, “Miss Fidelly! Miss Fidelly!” (her own variation on my last name), her arms spread wide to give me a hug. It was like that there, with the kids–one minute they’re doing their best to keep you at a distance; the next they’re embracing you with genuine warmth on a drizzly San Francisco street corner. Continue reading
Spring has arrived in San Francisco, an explosion of color interrupted at times by rainstorms and gray skies. This slideshow is a celebration of both sides of spring: pre-storm clouds along the rugged, expansive coastline and the bright, sunlit flowers of the Strybing Arboretum and the Japanese Tea Garden. The Tea Garden may, to most San Franciscans, be a place for tourists, but I love it there; even when crowded with visitors, it manages to offer a sense of seclusion, a communion with blossoms and beauty–a welcome respite from days spent navigating the city’s crowded, busy streets.
If the information available in my Facebook Home feed is any indication of the cultural zeitgeist (and who am I to argue that that it isn’t?), then I must conclude that what people are most panicked about lately is the news that Sarah Palin will have her own reality show on TLC (The Learning Channel). Because we now protest things by “fanning” certain slogans or joining groups on Facebook, activists were quick to note their disapproval of TLC’s decision by joining, “I Will Boycott Any Company that Sponsors the TLC Show, Sarah Palin’s Alaska.”
As of yet, I am not a member of this group because, unless Straus Family Creamery and Nordstrom decide to advertise during “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” it is unlikely that I will have any companies to boycott in the first place (because, you know, I subsist entirely off of quality yogurt and expensive jeans). There is one show on TLC that I watch regularly: “What not to Wear;” but I never buy anything advertised during that show, despite the fact that the advertising is clearly geared toward someone like me–a woman between the ages of eighteen and fifty. (Read: lots of ads for makeup, tampons, and Kohl’s Department Stores.)
My guess is that those buying time during “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” will likely be companies like Wal-Mart–companies whose products I am already accustomed to not buying. Am I saying that people who shop at Wal-Mart also like Sarah Palin? No. Am I saying Wal-Mart thinks that people who shop at Wal-Mart also like Sarah Palin? Absolutely. Continue reading
Last night I read a piece in the “Dine” section of Asterisk San Francisco magazine, by someone named Mark Holland. Titled, “Eating Out,” Holland’s essay seems to be primarily an indictment of supposed San Francisco food snobbery, with a conclusion that offers street food as the “authentic” alternative to the creations born from the giant-sized egos of too many restaurant chefs.
As someone who is equally passionate about food and media, I spend a lot of time engaging in discussions of both. And in fact, Holland’s piece caught my attention in part because it makes for an interesting intersection of the theme currently dominating the larger discourse in each of these spheres: the question of “how the sausage is made.” With foodies, the focus is on the making of the literal sausage: Where did my food come from, and how was it treated before it ended up on my plate? With journalists and people who care about good journalism, the sausage here is literal, but the concern is the same: What information is being presented, where did it come from, and how was it acquired? Holland’s essay stands as a good example of why so many journalists are concerned about the rise of “citizen journalism.” Continue reading
I spent this past summer in New York, and one of the things I missed the most about San Francisco was my ready access to fruit from Frog Hollow Farm–their peaches in particular, which are the best peaches I’ve ever had. Their nectarines are also amazing, and I feel I should mention here that when one of my NYC co-workers went to San Francisco on a visit, she brought back to New York a huge bag of Frog Hollow Farm nectarines. When one of my other co-workers tried a slice, he exclaimed, “Oh my God–what is that???”, as he reached for more. A third co-worker answered, “They’re nectarines. That’s what fruit is supposed to taste like.” Continue reading