Bye bye, Brew to Bay


The first photo published on Brew to Bay

37 has always been an auspicious number for me, beyond just my AOL screen name of “megster37”. It’s also a year that will mark six years here in San Francisco and I think the expiration date has passed for “chronicling a move” when in reality, I’m chronicling a life. It’s time to start something new, so as of today, my 37th birthday, I’m moving my musings to the Meghan In Midlife blog (with a much more generic URL). There you’ll find my new set of birthday goals, and hopefully more writing this year.

This blog will live on in archive form and I’ll continue to reference it from the new site.

It’s obviously bittersweet to close a project of over six years. I actually started this blog in secret in the Fall of 2010 when I began manifesting my move to San Francisco and appropriately announced its existence on Valentine’s Day of 2011. My posts from my first month or two here are delightful look back to see the city through the eyes of someone new to the Bay.

My most popular post was a harsh criticism of the home I’d left behind, and it’s chilling to read as our country heads in the same direction. On a more positive note, my reflections on my first (and only) marathon and the reasons I got my Golden Gate Bridge tattoo (which just turned three!) were also big hits (and two of my faves to revisit).

Thank you to all of your anonymous readers who’ve stuck with me over the years. I hope you’ll follow along with my next adventures. 💗

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36 by 37: “C” You later

Oh, hello. Remember me, that lady who writes birthday goals every year? Before I publish my new ones, let me reflect on what I did while being 36. I haven’t written much about it here, but as you can probably guess, the fact that 36 coincided with 2016 made it an especially challenging year to accomplish things. When the world is spiraling out of control, who has time to go to sporting events?

Still, I’m a Capricorn to the fullest and I’ll never let you (or myself down). As I mentioned in July, I graded myself differently this year, and it turns out that system landed me at 75% or a solid “C”. I 100% completed (sometimes above and beyond) 17 of my 36 goals, so even by that metric, I did better than last year.

Doing the categories was fun and while I’ll be diverging from that system for 37 (got to mix it back up, yo), it was a nice way to refocus and try some new things. Here’s how I did by category:




Complete at least six modules of six languages in Duolingo.
I can’t rave enough about Duolingo. Although I really did more of a “sampler” style with this goal, it was fascinating to see patterns emerge across languages. Most are Western, but it was nice to cram Vietnamese in at the end.

  • German
  • Spanish
  • Italian
  • French
  • Vietnamese
  • Dutch

Attend six different ethnic cooking classes or special dinners.
Was happy to split this one up quite deliciously between traveling and classes.

Read six books by authors from six different non-US countries.
I can’t think of  a more important time to read about global perspectives.

See six films from six different non-US countries.
Ditto for seeing global films.


Visit six countries.
Life threw me several curveballs after I declared my intentions. I also was too sick, busy, then later, hungover, to go to Mexico when I was in San Diego. Many people don’t make it to three foreign countries in a lifetime, nevermind a year, so I’m not bummed about getting passport stamps from Vietnam, Cambodia & China this year.

Swim in six different bodies of water.
Despite being walking distance from two large bodies of water, I didn’t make the effort to swim in either of them (brrr though). I did swim in the South China East Sea, Russian River, and Atlantic Ocean, so again, no complaints!




See films at six different theaters.
I definitely blew this out of the water, despite Alamo Drafthouse New Mission emerging as a new favorite spot for me in general. Saw more films than this during 36, but here’s the first at each spot:

Special shoutout to #7 – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off during Ferris Fest at the John & Nancy Hughes Theater in Lake Forest, Illinois (a very strange experience that I never quite wrote about). My other favorite screening of the year was probably a memorial showing of Purple Rain at The Castro.

See concerts at six different venues.
Despite only seeing a measly amount of concerts this year, I did manage to keep my venues diverse. As above, listing the first at each spot.

I also made it to Golden Gate Park (Hardly Strictly Bluegrass), Great American Music Hall, and Regency Ballroom for proper shows this year.

Read six books by entertainers.
Sadly it took the tragic death of Carrie Fisher to light a fire to finish this challenge, but hey, it got done. Here’s the list:

Go on six dates.
Maybe it was a self-fulfilling prophecy from my first post but it still stands that “Dating is the worst.” I got the six out of the way quite quickly, mostly from the app world, a couple from real life. Here’s a vague summary of the first six:

  • Totally hit it off, until he got fresh at the end of the date.
  • Super nice, super young, really excited about his logistics start up.
  • No chemistry and later ended up dating a friend of mine that he also met through the app route.
  • I should’ve run when he showed up in a mock turtleneck. But I was trying to be less judgy.
  • We probably could’ve been friends had we not met on a dating site. Ah well.
  • Made Born Again Teen the most-played song in my Spotify and then totally ghosted.


Participate in six performances.
As a Hail Mary, I joined the requested dance party on stage at the end of Misfit Cabaret‘s Christmas Show, to get one point in this category.

Host six dinner parties for six.
While I did have two small gatherings, I never actually hosted a dinner party. I learned there are way too many logistics involved to have five people formally over.




Visit six historic sites within San Francisco
This was my worst category and this is the only one I finished.


Go to six historical society events.
While I did register for more than six events, scheduling on both ends meant only hitting 50% here.

Read six books about historical figures.
As I predicted, I did finish Team of Rivals. I also read the excellent Blood Brothers about the friendship between Malcolm X and Muhammed Ali. And that’s it.

Interview six family members.
I don’t think I can write more without breaking down, but I’m very grateful that the one family member I talked to in-depth this year was my now-late Grandma. We spent a night with wine and notepad when I visited her in August. I wish I’d asked more.

Write six chapters of a memoir.

I drafted one little piece about travel. There’s so much more. Can I just export my Facebook posts? I don’t really want them on there anyway.

Watch six documentaries about historical events.
Opting for the Netflix bingehole this year, I only watched one and it was in the theater – Here Come the Videofreex  about the early days of citizen reporting.




Visit six visual art exhibitions at six different museums or galleries.
Finally a category where I was five for six. It’s no secret that I adore the arts, so I was happy to tackle these goals. Supporting independent art is going to be critical in the coming years, so sign me up. Here are the first six exhibitions I attended:

Attend six performing arts events by six different companies.
Another where I was happy to oblige.

Read six novels published in 2016.
For accounting purposes, I counted translations published in 2016. I also really should’ve said “books” here, since I ended up reading quite a few excellent non-fiction tomes published this year. Ah well.

Take six arts/crafts classes/workshops.
Pushed myself to get this one done and thanks to the friends who indulged me. Could never really top the neon M though.

Attend six author talks.
This was probably the one in this category I worked actively to complete. And really glad I did. I’d actually hoped to make it to more of Litquake this year, but unfortunately 2016 got in the way.


Write six short stories of six pages or more.
ZERO EFFORT. In a year where so much happened, I didn’t write barely at all.



Visit six science museums/nature centers.
A huge shout out to Amber for coming to NightLife with me last week so I could check this one off. Especially since this was another weak category for me. Here’s where I went:


Tent camp in six different locations.
Got a couple lovely trips in during my brief funemployment stint, but then lost momentum. Still, four different camping experiences with friends were a wonderful part of 2016 at Angel IslandSteep Ravine, the weirdest campground in Russian River, and , of course, Burning Man.

Take six hikes of at least six miles each.
When you spend six weeks of the year nursing a broken toe, then fail at lining up regular hiking buddies, it’s a little hard to tackle this like you’d planned. I did do lots of shorter hikes, but the six milers plus alluded me. With the exception of the Bolinas Ridge Trail, I ended up achieving mega-distance, on two urban hikes – the Manhattan Tip-to-Tip (really need to write about this) and Rogue Peak2Peak (in the pouring rain). I also did the Presidio Immersion Trail during my summer break, a lovely and very wild hike here in the city.

Kayak six times.
Another goal that started strong and then was thwarted by 2016 factors (including my broken thumb). Enjoyed doing this three times with strangers, friends and colleagues at Ha Long BayTomales Bay Bioluminescence Tour (DO THIS! It is seriously so freaking cool) and Elliott Bay.

Read six science/nature books.
Unfortunately this fell by the wayside, I think the only two I can count are Girls and Sex by Peggy Orenstein and The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan

Attend six science/nature lectures.
Another one I failed at that I really wish I’d been able to follow through with. There was definitely a strong science lecture element to my bioluminesce tour and I made it to one formal lecture – The Science of Bicycles at Shinola with their kickass lead bike designer, Sky Yaeger, and a scientist from The Exploratorium.




Attend six yoga workshops/retreats.
There was no doubt I’d complete this one. In fact, I went above and beyond.Yoga is still very much the shining example of one of my _ by _ goals becoming a part of my lifestyle. Grateful to have discovered offerings at The Center, which has been a great compliment to my regular practice at Yoga Garden. Here are the first six workshops/retreats I took:

Participate in six organized runs.
With the injuries and scheduling madness of this year, I had to cancel not just one, but TWO half marathons. I burned out on running again, but this time am diligently offsetting it with gym activities. I still managed to do two halves and four smaller organized runs…barely! Thanks to Amber for doing quite a few with me and my other friends for cheering me on, as always.


Go to the gym six times each month.
I am actually not sure that I didn’t complete this. I know there are definitely times where Fitness SF‘s system didn’t count me. But it’s late and I’m not double-checking. I’m at 67/72 visits. Close enough. And should be more now that I have a couple of friends who are into having gym dates!

Go to six different spas/hot springs.
Really failed at the hot springs aspect, but went to four different spas, including my monthly massage at In-Symmetry, a habit I started when I ran the marathon a few years ago.

Attend six sporting events.
Probably the least amount of sports I’ve attended in years. I only made it to one Giants game and I left early.

Read six sports-themed books.
I read the aforementioned Blood Brothers and failed at picking up another sports book.

Considering multiple deaths, broken bones and a devastating political environment, I guess it’s not a terrible 75%.

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Meghan Music: Top 10 Shows of 2016

UPDATE (1/10): I completely brainfarted and left off Seu Jorge‘s Life Aquatic show at the Regency, which ranks in the top 5.


The Cure at Madison Square Garden

Since I knew I’d be going to an epic New Year’s Eve concert, I decided to hold this post until the year was 100% over. Sort of an abysmal year in terms of getting out to see live music (rectifying that in 2017), but some great shows nonetheless. I think this may be the first year in a long time I haven’t seen any of the artists on my top 10 album list – not for lack of trying, many were in town while I was traveling.

10. Annie Bacon & Her Oshen / Amnesia / San Francisco / January

I love having talented friends. Saw them play a bunch this year (including once with my visiting godbrother, Tim), but this show was a blast. During the day, it turned into a rollicking Sunday funday, back when 2016 was fun still.

9. Patti Smith / Nourse Theater / San Francisco / October

A short acoustic set that accompanied a speaking tour, I was delighted to see Patti in a year where many of my idols were lost. The best part about this show is that my friend Luke offered me a ticket as we walked out of our Walk SF board meeting. I’d ignored that the event was happening due to my obligations, so was beyond grateful for this opportunity.

8. Zepparella / Great American Music Hall / San Francisco / October

My Halloween weekend was tempered this year by being sandwiched between my grandmother’s memorial services and a huge professional project. I switched up plans last minute and accompanied my buddies to this show. So much fun! A great way to celebrate five years of friendship with this crew.

7. Cyndi Lauper / Hardly Strictly Bluegrass/ San Francisco / October

Ended up spending this show with a group of random twentysomething women because it was too crowded for my friends to get into the tarp. Grandma had her stroke the day before HSB, so I didn’t embrace the weekend the way I usually do. However, singing along to “True Colors” with random strangers was a bright spot on my year.

6. Purling Hiss with CCR Headcleaner / The Chapel / San Francisco / November

I needed rage rock on November 10. CCR Headcleaner blew my ears out with indistinguishable screaming and Purling Hiss’s soaring garage rock (along with a little too much beer) distracted me for a couple of hours from the horridness happening in the world. (Wish I’d spent some more time with High Bias this year, but Drag City continues to resist the streaming services).

5. Songs of Love & Hate: A San Francisco Tribute to Leonard Cohen / The Chapel / San Francisco / November

This Thanksgiving weekend tribute packed with SF’s musical heavy-hitters was a beautiful somber show to process not just the death of Cohen, but so much of the darkness in the world — and maybe helped find a little light.

4. Sleater-Kinney with The Thermals / The Masonic / San Francisco / December

I decided just over week ago that I wanted to go to this for New Year’s and made it happen. Rung in the New Year with current/former coworkers Molly & Theresa. Nothing like serious shredding and a balloon drop to transfer the year. Highlights were playing “Bury Our Friends” just before midnight as an “F U 2016” and closing with a “Rebel Rebel” cover accompanied by The Thermals and Britt Daniel.

3. Waxahatchee / The Chapel / San Francisco / March

Katie Crutchfield was so mesmerizing that my friend Mike and I did not realize we were standing next to each other until about halfway through the show (when she took a brief break to tune her guitar).

2. Lucius / The Fillmore / San Francisco / November

The artists behind my number one song are a spectacle live. Imagine a DIY version of a high-production pop show. So good.

1. The Cure / Madison Square Garden / New York / June

I was waffling on going to this and so glad my internet friend selling the ticket followed up when I got to NYC for the Typographics concert. The double-whammy of seeing one of my favorite bands of all time in one of the most incredible venues in the world (sounds like a couple of shows last year) was fantastic. The show was an emotional rollercoaster, I went alone and ended up in a center section with a large chunk of open seats (after some Jersey housewives cleared out), so I could cry and dance my ass off with room to spare. Considering I’d walked the length of Manhattan earlier that day, the dancing was quite impressive!

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Meghan Music: Top 20 Songs of 2016

Picking 20 songs is always a tricky task, but at least now Spotify sort of summarizes it for you (although man, I still am waiting for that raw data export so I can weight it like I used to with iTunes back in the day). Still, here are my faves of the year. Yes, I know some were released as singles before the albums, and one is a single from a forthcoming album, but there are no rules here (not like my top 10 albums list). Anyhoo, please enjoy.

New for 2016: After recently having the conversation about how I’m more of a melody person than a lyrics person, I’m adding standout lyrics (after all, this is the year Dylan won the Nobel Prize)!

Links: Video Playlist &  Spotify Playlist (doesn’t include Beyoncé, grr).

20. Daughter – How

Holding on, souvenirs/His words inked from birthdays/Goodbye to our empty ruins/ Yeah that’s when I saw her

I’ll never not like dreamy shoegaze.

19. Allah-Las – Terra Ignota

Plan a day to slip away unseen/Hone your mind/Live for the time and me

Every year I have a California song, and this sounds like 70s LA canyon rock. It’s also a really good running jam, although it’s probably about acid.

18. Preoccupations – Anxiety

I’m not here purely for the sake/Of breathing, I am wide awake/Excuse my efforts for today

2016: The Song

17. Fruit Bats – Baby Bluebird

Writing songs about coming under/I’ve fallen in love with the idea of someone/Who is it gonna be

I thoroughly enjoyed the Fruit Bats album and glad to see a strong return. No song will ever touch my favorite, but this is a lovely little ditty.

16. Lucy Dacus – I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore

Lately, I’ve been feeling like the odd man out/I hurt my friends saying things I don’t mean out loud

If you know me, like really know me, you know how much I identify with this song. Ha ha, just kidding, everything is totally fine.

15. Radiohead – Daydreaming

Dreamers/They never learn/Beyond the point/Of no return

While A Moon Shaped Pool didn’t grab me as much as past Radiohead albums, it’s still one I’ll revisit time and again. The piano intro on this is enough to put the song on any list.

14. David Bowie – Lazarus

This way or no way/You know, I’ll be free

If we could only raise him from the dead.

13. Michael Kiwanuka – Black Man in a White World

I don’t mind who I am/I don’t mind who you are/I’m not wrong, I’m not wrong

Another song for the awful year that was 2016.

12. Margot Price – Since You Put Me Down

If I see your face again don’t consider me a friend/You made me feel like an orphan and act like a clown

This is everything a country song is supposed to be and I really needed it this year.

11. Lydia Loveless – Out on Love

Now I’m  walking away, I guess/I don’t understand/Why someone like you would be cruel/Well, I don’t know what the truth is

Lydia songs usually make me laugh, dance and rock n’ roll, but this one cut into my soul. It’s just a really beautiful ballad.

10. Car Seat Headrest – Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales

Forget what happened in the morning/There are notes in your handwriting/But you can’t make it out

The best Pavement song released this year.

9. Deap Vally – Smile More

And yes, I am a feminist/But that isn’t why I started doing this/And sometimes I am full of bitterness/But I am trying to work through this

While Royal Jelly is my everyday jam, this song is a big ol’ feminist fuck you and I love it. AND THOSE GUITAR RIFFS.

8. Y La Bamba – Ostrich

In the wilderness is where/We meet god hanging in the air/It’s my oxygen

This sounds like a pretty lullaby for a sunny afternoon nap in a meadow.

7. Blood Orange – Best to You

And I can’t be the girl you want but I can be the thing you/Throw away

This album is full of pop gems, including this near-perfect one, which also super resonates with me personally. From the lyrics to the production to the beats, I would 1000x rather hear this repeated on the radio than that Bieber crap.

6. Margaret Glaspy – You and I

Oh, tonight I’m a little too turned on to talk about us/And tomorrow I’ll be too turned off and won’t give a fuck/About you and I

Catchy, brash and on repeat a large chunk of the year.

5. The Gift with Brian Eno – Love Without Violins

If love is a role in your private theater/It’s better to follow the casting director’s whims

The best Annie Lennox song released this year.

4. Beyoncé – Sorry

Middle fingers up/Put them hands high/Wave it in his face/Tell ’em boy bye

Queen B is queen for a reason.

3. Angel Olsen – Shut Up Kiss Me

I could make it all disappear/You could feed me all of your fears/We could end all this pain right here/We could rewind all of those tears

I should probably maybe just send this playlist to my therapist.

2. Savages – T.I.W.Y.G.

You mess with love when you go out tonight/Doesn’t matter who’s wrong or right/All you want is that feeling again/When someone is camping in your head

This pounding beast pushed me across the finish line for the SF Half Marathon in July and provided a soundtrack for lots of rawwwwwwwwwr solo dance party moments this year. I’ve never heard a truer song.

1. Lucius – Born Again Teen

Never seen your moves like this and all with such self confidence/I’m thinking how your lips taste next to mine

If Kate Bush and Wilson Phillips made a song together maybe it would be this. It’s so weird, yet poppy, and absolutely impossible not to dance to. In a dark, dismal year, this was a bright spot and a song I have had on repeat since the beginning of 2016.

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Meghan Music: Top 10 Albums of 2016

img_8134I talked in last year’s wrap-up about how 2015 was angsty and 2014 was sad. Who knew that 2016 would be a combination of both? As the deaths of so many greats proved this year, music is a central part of human existence. It can get us through the worst of times, expose our pain, celebrate our moments of joy. I know it will play a larger part in my life next year and I’m resolving to see more shows, listen to albums outside of my typical genres and encourage art of all kinds.

[That said, I will snarkily say that the Album that Caused Me to Break Up with a Band I Once Loved this year was Bon Iver – 22 A Million. This album is like when your $4 toast (which, fuck it, may be totally hipster, but it’s delicious) increases its price to $8 & then autotunes itself.]

Anyway, from the albums that did resonate with me this year, my top 20 are below. There’s a ton of great music that came out this year and a lot not on the list that I need to revisit or spend more time with. Hopefully some of these speak to you as well.

Honorable Mentions (11-20, alphabetical, unranked):

A Tribe Called QuestWe Got it From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service
Allah-Las  – Calico Review
Beyoncé Lemonade (this probably would’ve been way higher, but I am lazy and pretty much only listen to music in Spotify)
Big EyesStake My Claim
Blood Orange Freetown Sound
Leonard Cohen You Want it Darker
Fruit Bats Absolute Loser
Margaret GlaspyEmotions and Math
LuciusGood Grief (I probably listened to this album the most in 2016, until things just kept getting darker and angstier and it was too poppy to include in my top 10)
SolangeA Seat At The Table (I also need more time with this and suspect it’ll increase in adoration for me as time progresses)

Top 10 Albums 2016:

10. Deap VallyFemejism

This album filled the void that opened up when Heliotropes reformed. It’s raw, dirty guitar rock and got me through a lot of the rage of 2016. Also, “Royal Jelly” is my new walk on music.

9. PreoccupationsPreoccupations

The renamed Viet Cong moved up a spot from their 2015 offering. This band’s consistent darkness and brooding was much needed for a rough year.

8. Lydia LovelessReal

I wasn’t in a place where this album really spoke to me this year, but another fine showing from one of my favorite artists. Wonderful to see her evolving and growing a wider audience. Really enjoyed the poppier turn on songs like “Heaven“. Can definitely see her going the direction of fellow Ohioan Chrissie Hynde.

7. Y La BambaOjos del Sol

The most upbeat album on this list, I came to this late in the year, then couldn’t stop listening. It’s ethereal and beautiful and took the edge of 2016 off a little.

6. David BowieBlackstar

I stopped writing eulogies for dead rock stars after Bowie. Who knew there’d be so many this year? This album grew on me throughout the year and with the impossible despair of the last quarter, which including the death of my beloved grandmother and the horrifying election, took on evolving personal meanings of dealing with grief and hopelessness. We can all hope to depart this world leaving such a masterpiece behind.

5. Margo PriceMidwest Farmer’s Daughter

Speaking of my grandma, I wish I’d exposed her to this album before she passed. It’s a perfect classic country album. The lyrics are smart, tragic and hilarious all at the same time (The line “Better than the taste of a boot in your face” on “About to Find Out” harkens back to “Fist City”, my favorite Loretta Lynn song). The story told in the album pulls you in from the first line of the album and carries you through to the end.

4. Michael KiwanukaLove & Hate

In a year of epic, sweeping albums, this one really struck a chord with me. It’s a social commentary soul album infused with distorted guitar and gospel choirs. At times it sounds like a Pink Floyd version of What’s Going On remixed by Spiritualized.

3. SavagesAdore Life

Wish me luck/This was a hard year/And I can’t see/No brighter future. Not only does this album encapsulate so much of the general rage I felt in 2016, but it’s pretty damn good at unpacking toxic relationships. I generally keep my private life, private, but songs like “I Need Something New” expose a lot of dark spots in my psyche.  I moved the top 4 on this list around quite a bit and this album could’ve easily fallen into any of the spots depending on my mood. Also those bass lines, damn.

2. Car Seat HeadrestTeens of Denial

It’s too late to articulate it/That empty feeling/You share the same fate as the people you hate. Guitar goals and pure rock n’ roll. I really regret missing the two shows in SF this year, especially since they were at smaller venues. As all the year-end reviews will tell you, this is an instant classic in the tradition of Television, Neutral Milk Hotel and Pavement.

1. Angel OlsenMY WOMAN

Just like her 2014 release, Angel Olsen’s album this year sang once again the inner depths of my soul. “Never Be Mine” and “Woman” wrecked me in this artist’s now signature style, while “Give It Up” sounded like a missing track from Exile In Guyville. I’m so looking forward to seeing her for the second time at The Fillmore in February.

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36 by 37: Half Birthday Update

Is this thing on? It’s my half birthday today (a.k.a. holyshitiamthreeandahalfyearsfromforty) so I thought I’d check in with my goals.

Despite my hopes in May, I’m not at 50% six months in, and am just shy of my ideal of 40% (39.74%! Curses! EDIT: Forgot that Muir Woods counts as a Nature Center…I’m at 40.06% Yes!). Still, realizing that some goals are probably not going to happen and ending the year with 75% of these ridiculous things done is still an accomplishment. I guess I’m cool with my progress.

Playing in the beautiful (and warm) Russian River.

GEOGRAPHY [42.42%]
Visit six countries. [50%]

No update and nothing on the horizon. I’m going to San Diego in November, so I may stick around a day or two extra to add a quick trip to Mexico onto this line item.

Complete at least six modules of six languages in Duolingo. [27.78%]
During my staycation this week I flew threw German, completing all six modules. I’m caught up with two each of Italian and Spanish. Really want to focus on this in the coming months.

Attend six different ethnic cooking classes or special dinners. [50%]
When I hit 50% on goals that are locally doable, I put them on the backburner. Time to plan out some fun food adventures in the coming six months! Who’s in?

Read six books by authors from six different non-US countries. [66.67%]
Read the Booker Prize-winning The Vegetarian from South Korea.

See six films from six different non-US countries. [100%]
Thanks to movie buddy Amy for getting me out to see the hilariously dark The Lobster.

Swim in six different bodies of water. [33.33%]
Hooray! I finally made it to Russian River with my pals. That said, I’m still short here. Hoping to take a dip in the Atlantic when in Virginia next month and hopefully the Pacific in aforementioned San Diego. Shouldn’t be too tricky to find some lakes to jump into…but maybe to find the time.

Ferris Fest in Chicago with two of my BFFs. Any surprise “entertainment” is my strongest category?

See films at six different theaters. [100%]
Cool to complete this by seeing Ferris Bueller’s Day Off  at the John and Nancy Hughes Theater in Lake Forest for Ferrisfest. Now I can just kick my feet up and see everything at the Alamo.

See concerts at six different venues. [66.67%]
Still behind on my yearly average of shows, but happy to add a biggie to the list. Thanks to timing, luck and internet friends, I was able to see The Cure at Madison Square Garden when I was in NYC in June. Two bucket list items, one ticket!

Host six dinner parties for six. [0%]
I’m learning I should’ve been less ambitious and shot for six parties, total. I’ve had two parties, but nothing formal. Ah well.

Read six books by entertainers. [66.67%]
No updates since May.

Go on six dates. [100%]
And that chapter of the year is complete. Back to focusing on the goals that are actually fulfilling.

Participate in six performances. [0%]
I knew this would be a stretch.

This is how quickly I’m moving in the “History” category.

HISTORY (22.22%)
Interview six family members. [0%]
Visiting Grandma in August. Hopefully we can carve out some formal time!

Visit six historic sites within San Francisco [83.33%]
I was supposed to do another history walk, but it was postponed. Not worried about completing this!

Go to six historical society events. [16.67%]
I need to be more diligent. Have another walk scheduled at the end of July, but more should be on my calendar.

Write six chapters of a memoir. [16.67%]
Wrote a three-page rough draft about kayaking in Alaska. It’s a start.

Watch six documentaries about historical events. [16.67%]
I should make use of Netflix now that my other binge watching has ended.

Read six books about historical figures. [0%]
Get. On. It.

An extra credit visit to the Art Walls at Coney Island.

Visit six visual art exhibitions at six different museums or galleries. [100%]
I’m not tracking them any longer, but of course I’m still seeing art! Just last week I went to SFMOMA and finally made it to a Lower Haight Art Walk as an actual Lower Haight resident.

Attend six performing arts events by six different companies. [33.33%]
No change. Who wants to go see some performances?

Read six novels published in 2016. [33.33%]
I’m fine with this percentage, as I know it’ll increase. Read two local authors (one of whom I know!). All The Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders and The Conjured Woman by Anne Gross (congrats Anne!).

Take six arts/crafts classes/workshops. [16.67%]
I’m signed up for a silverpoint class in August and waitlisted for a floral design class later this month. Would love to get this number up!

Attend six author talks. [50%]
Happily went to Anne’s book launch (plus she came back to our book club to give some insight into process).

Write six short stories of six pages or more. [0%]

Visiting my future self at the Rotary Nature Center in Oakland. (Photo by Amber)

Visit six science museums/nature centers. [50%]
Thanks to Maribeth for taking Mary Ann and I to the Chicago Botanic Gardens,  Amber for going into the Rotary Nature Center with me at Lake Merritt, and Brooke & Craig for wanting to check out Muir Woods while they were in town.

Take six hikes of at least six miles each. [50%]
Hustled to get this one caught up! Did part of the Bolinas Ridge Trail with Mary Ann and Dustin, walked the entire length of Manhattan in June, and did an 8ish mile perimeter hike of the Presidio last week.

Kayak six times. [33.33%]
Need to add more!!!

Read six science/nature books. [16.67%]
I’m counting human sexuality (although it was a little more on the social science side) and adding Peggy Orenstein’s Girls & Sex as my first entry here.

Tent camp in six different locations. [50%]
Russian River FTW!

Attend six science/nature lectures.  [16.67%]
Really need to add more.

Sometimes I snapchat while watching “Friends” at the gym. Ugh, Season 3 Ross.

Attend six yoga workshops/retreats. [50%]
Time to book some for the rest of the year!

Participate in six organized runs. [0%]
Decided to run the first half of the SF Marathon for Walk San Francisco. Can you support my return to the belly of the beast?

Go to the gym six times each month. [50%]
Having a trainer has helped me achieve this so far. Hopefully doing “dry July” helps achieve the weight loss aspect of it.

Attend six sporting events. [0%]
Someone please take me out to the ballgame.

Read six sports-themed books. [0%]
Repeat the shruggie.

Go to six different spas/hot springs. [50%]
Time to add more!

Any advice for a wayward goalsetter? Anyone want to pair up on some of these?

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36 by 37: Over a Quarter of the Way There

Even though I haven’t checked in since my first, in February, I have been keeping the eyes on the prize with my goals this year. One of the things I’m doing differently is tallying an overall percentage in my tracking spreadsheet (oh, you KNOW I have one, right?).

I’m of course hoping to be at 50% by July 11, although I’d be happy with 40%-45%. I’m not displeased that with four months under my belt, I’ve hit over 29 percent so far this year, including already completing some goals.

Visit six countries.

Thanks to my 16 days in Asia, I returned to Vietnam and added Cambodia and China to my passport.

Complete at least six modules of six languages in Duolingo.
I’m hoping to have six modules in three languages completed by July so I can move ahead with three others. I’m at about 2.5 modules in Spanish and Italian and 3.5 in German. Getting there.

Attend six different ethnic cooking classes or special dinners.
While I obviously ate a ton of amazing ethnic food on my trip, I’ll call out three very food-centric special events of different cultures. Though many nights dining in Vietnam could fall under this category, the Saigon Street Foodie Tour I took in Ho Chi Minh City, was absolutely top-notch in terms of experiencing a city through food. As my Siem Reap Food Tour was a morning affair, the Cambodian meal I’ll highlight was the six-course tasting menu at Cuisine Wat Damnak in Siem Reap – the first restaurant in the country to make Asia’s top 50 list. Finally, when I returned to San Francisco, good ol’ 18 Reasons treated me to a delicious Palestinian spread at the member dinner with food prepared by Bi-Rite’s Sam Mogannam and his nephew Samir (my table may have been unfriendly, but the food was fantastic).

Read six books by authors from six different non-US countries.
I’ve added Adios, Cowboy from Croatia and the Vietnamese classic satire, Dumb Luck, to my list.

See six films from six different non-US countries.
Thanks to SFIFF and a couple of lazy afternoons with HBO Go, I’ve almost completed this goal.

Although the SFIFF Shorts program featured non-US selections, as did the Food Farm & Film Festival, I’m reserving this for more feature-length films.

Swim in six different bodies of water.
I took a good dip in the South China East Sea while in magical Hội An, Vietnam.


See films at six different theaters. [COMPLETE]
Again, SFIFF made this easy, but I was well on my way before then. I’ve added AMC Van Ness, The Clay, The Embarcadero, The Kabuki, The Castro, The Roxie and The Victoria to my list this year.

See concerts at six different venues.
I skipped NoisePop this year and was out of town for Fauxchella, so I’m only halfway through my goal. New shows since February were the Infamous Stringdusters with Nicki Bluhm @ The Fillmore (2/20) and Waxahatchee @ The Chapel (3/8). I need to get back on a live music kick.

Host six dinner parties for six.
While I did host a housewarming, I still need to plan out my dinner fêtes. Any ideas?

Read six books by entertainers.
Added Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari (and Eric Klinenberg) to the list, bringing me up to 4/6.

Go on six dates.
I actually made progress on these and went on Internet dates of varying degrees of meh to terrible with four dudes during February and March. Go me.

Participate in six performances.
Can I count feigning interest on above dates?

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 12.04.02 AM

Interview six family members.
I’ve given this a lot of brain time. Time to make it actionable.

Visit six historic sites within San Francisco
I’ve likely hit this, but specifically calling out a pop into Coit Tower, a baby shower tea at The Fairmont Hotel and a history walk beginning in Portsmouth Square as meaningful ones. That puts me at five. This is certainly an easy one to achieve.

Go to six historical society events.
Despite having a few scheduled, I’ve only been able to make it to the Barbary Coast Pt. I walking tour entitled “San Francisco: Second Chances & New Beginnings” just last weekend. It was seriously great and more young people should do these. And by young I mean under 65, like myself.

Write six chapters of a memoir.
Need to figure out where to begin.

Watch six documentaries about historical events.
One random afternoon I caught Here Come the Videofreex at The Roxie – a documentary about hippies with video cameras documenting the counterculture of the 60s and 70s.

Read six books about historical figures.
I need to buckle down and go through the recs y’all have thrown out!



Visit six visual art exhibitions at six different museums or galleries. [COMPLETE]
Yay! This one is done (but it’s not like I’m going to quit seeing art, especially with SFMOMA reopened). I continued on my art journey by seeing Luke Butler’s Afterimage at Jessica Silverman Gallery, Vision Not Victim at Rayko Gallery, Neon Robot Iceberg at Fort Mason, Farmers Got Power at galeriequynh (part of the excellent Sophie’s Art Tour in Saigon), and, out off all that’s at SFMOMA, obviously Typeface Is Interface resonated most with me.

Attend six performing arts events by six different companies.
Although I returned to the ballet, I haven’t added anything new here. That should change.

Read six novels published in 2016.
No progress. Have you read anything good and new?

Take six arts/crafts classes/workshops.
I’ve only done one so far, but HOLY SHIT YOU GUYS I LEARNED TO MAKE NEON. Thanks to Type Camp I now have a pink “M” that lives in my apartment.

Attend six author talks.
Geeked out with my fellow feminists at the JCC for Rebecca Traister‘s talk on All The Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation and type nerds at Valerie Lester‘s Type@Cooper West Lecture on Giambattista Bodoni: His Life and His World.

Write six short stories of six pages or more.
Again, something I need to carve out time for.

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 11.56.12 PM

Visit six science museums/nature centers.
Surprisingly I haven’t done this yet.

Take six hikes of at least six miles each.
Breaking my toe in March threw off a couple of my goals, including this one. Need to scramble to catch back up.

Kayak six times.
I’m a third of the way there. I got 30 minutes of surprise kayaking (didn’t know it would be an option on my tour with Yesd Tours) in on Ha Long Bay and Mary Ann and I did the bioluminescence tour in Tomales Bay with Blue Waters this past weekend. I love kayaking so so much.

Read six science/nature books.
I have The Botany of Desire lined up as my next “to read”.

Tent camp in six different locations.
Angel Island and Steep Ravine campouts were great. More need to be booked!

Attend six science/nature lectures.
Brilliantly the bioluminescence kayak tour I took (see next category) included a big learning component! Got a talk on the geology of Tomales Bay (on the San Andreas), species of sea and sky, and of course glowing microorganisms!


Attend six yoga workshops/retreats.
Took a Valentine’s Day workshop on Radical Self-Love taught by my friend Autumn.

Participate in six organized runs.
I was devastated to break my toe just a week before the Oakland Half after training up to 11 miles. I’ve yet to get back out there with a group run and my rescheduled half in June is no longer happening. I need to do some small DSE or City Beer runs to get my passions back up.

Go to the gym six times each month.
I’ve done it so far! Aaaaaand bought a training package to help drop the 15 pounds I’ve gained in a stressful couple of years.

Attend six sporting events.
I can’t afford playoff tickets and haven’t made it to a baseball game yet. Hopefully this changes soon.

Read six sports-themed books.
No progress.

Go to six different spas/hot springs.
Hit up two spas in Vietnam, so hoping to round this goal out with three hot springs!

How are your 2016 goals coming along?

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Girl on Film: My SFIFF 2016

I terribly miss volunteering for film festivals. I hope against hope that next late-April and early-May my schedule will allow me to do so once again. There’s nothing like the camaraderie and surprises that come with spending hours in a theater with other volunteers, temporary workers, nomadic staff, film loving attendees, attendees who happen upon the festival, filmmakers and special guests. I loved (and was a bit jealous) following along with my dear pal Amber who made the prestigious move from volunteer to house manager in 2016, and basically lived at the festival. Next year will be my 7th San Francisco International Film Festival and if you don’t see me taking your ticket one of those nights, find me and smack me.

I may not have volunteered this year, but I did once again purchase a 10-pack so I would make it films. Two of those I missed at my own volition (I skipped Under The Shadow to party at the new SFMOMA and Trivisa because I ran into a group of dear friends while getting out of the Lyft at the Alamo Drafthouse). The last, Cameraperson, I begrudgingly missed when I got stuck late in a volunteer meeting. Thanks to missing my last scheduled film, the next day I spontaneously bought a last-minute shorts program ticket when another volunteer meeting wrapped early.

Eight screenings ain’t too shabby and one up from my 2015 festival showing. So what did make it to see?

Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World

My plane back from SE Asia landed about 9 hours before I Herzog’s take on Silicon Valley. Full of the typical cast oddballs and dreamers, albiet ones who are influencing our daily technological choices, this was hard to watch after  just three days prior, being somewhere where there was not reliable water access. It’s difficult to listen to old white dudes wax poetic on settling Mars when we’ve already fucked Earth over (the one badass female scientist profiled in the film did point out this very fact).

Assassination Classroom

I love going to whatever iteration of “Dark Wave” or Midnight Movies that film festivals include in their line up. They always make me miss the weird shit I used to see at the UWM Cinema in my 20s. I was going to go see this one jetlagged and alone, but ran into a gaggle of friends at the theater, so go to crack up to Scott Pilgrim meets Battle Royale with a group and then laugh about/reference it for the next couple of weeks. Looking forward to Part II.

The Fixer


I appreciate that a city’s film festival generally includes a local filmmaking component and when I can I do try to support at least one screening of area cinema. But this film, along with last year’s Quitters, to me signify why the eyeroll emoji was invented. I just don’t find privileged Northern Californians reflecting on the weird worlds they live in. It’s frankly quite boring. In the Q&A there was discussion of how this was supposed to be “different” because the main character was a person of color, but sorry, it was still clearly written by two white dudes over 50.

Granny’s Dancing on the Table

I love a beautiful, dark film, but this one was extra unsettling and claustrophobic for me Despite its setting in a massive forest, the limited characters (both human and stop animation) and confined spaces they occupied began to feel very heavy as the film unfolded. I appreciated it immensely from a cinematic perspective (as I do artwork that makes the audience experience multi-level emotion), but it’s not one I’d rush out to see again. That said, I recommend it to you hearty international cinema lovers out there who can handle a good dash of despair.

Blood Simple (Mel Novikoff Award: An Afternoon with Janus Films & The Criterion Collection with special guests the Coen Brothers)

Every year I have to have at least one festival experience that transports me to “film nerd heaven.” I realized that despite seeing plenty of clips, I’d never actually watched the Coen Brother’s first feature film, so this was an absolute treat to enjoy it in such a geeky context. The interview with the Janus/Criterion dudes was really interesting to hear about their process and adaptations with changing technology. I found the conversation about their approach to design particularly fascinating  – people are buying the design along with the film. Finally, I was especially excited to learn about Filmstruck, the new streaming service from Criterion and TCM.

As I Open My Eyes

Getting toward the end of my ticket stack, I was a little worried that I hadn’t had a “wow” film yet. I think I picked this one because the timing worked well for me, but As I Open My Eyes was easily my favorite film of the fest, hands-down. A Tunisian film, it was certainly more of a traditional feature with universal themes, but did them all very well. The structure, acting and intense plot twist took what could’ve been your traditional “teen girl rebels against parents” movie into an excellent and upsetting film that I absolutely recommend.



There may have been a time in my 20s, during those cold Wisconsin winters, where my broke eastside gang sat on a dumpy couch on Humboldt Street, with various cheap substances, watching Todd Solondz movies and laughing our asses off. It’s wonderful to know that I could spend a sober evening in my mid-30s in The Mission and laugh my ass off at Solondz’s new venture. Definitely not for everyone, but if you’re a fan of sick, trashy humor (and are excited about the Welcome to the Dollhouse universe continuing), put this on your list.

Shorts 4: New Visions


I think this is the first time I’ve ever paid money to see a shorts program during SFIFF and that’s a real shame! Future fest planning will definitely integrate taking a closer look. These were globally-themed and experimental, so provided a very different perspective and approach to filmmaking than I’m used to. My Aleppo was probably the most traditional and intense film in the bunch. Sept-Oct 2015, Cizre packed a powerful punch, but I’ll be honest, the structure/editing grated on me. Untitled (sorry, that’s an impossible link) was super short, but a really solid message. I would’ve preferred the program had chosen that to end with instead of the sprawling False Start (Faux Depart), although I suppose there’s some poetry in that title ending my SFIFF 2016.


A final note on the location change for SFIFF. I loved it. Wandering around the Mission and Castro to get to films felt so much more special and urban than just bumping around the Kabuki, mingling with “normal” movie goers. Having so many bars and restaurants to pick from for a pre-or-post film discussion was a welcome change from wandering around the weird Japantown mall. When the fest was in Lower Pac Heights I’d pop in and out for the movies, but this year I spent way more time in the neighborhood.  The Alamo Drafthouse is truly a shining addition to San Francisco and their support of “little guy” theaters like the  Victoria Theatre (first time going!) and The Roxie is absolutely heartwarming. And of course getting back-and-forth to The-one-and-only Castro Theatre was 1000x easier too!

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Travel Tuesday: I Guess I Never Wrote About Vietnam Last Time Either

IMG_0404As my recent travels to Vietnam and Cambodia fade into the dust of time, the guilt of never writing about them eats away at me. Apparently that will go away too, since I apparently never wrote about my 2012 to visit Jason as well. No wonder no one knows it was my second time back!

This time I did fill up two Field Notes, so maybe, just maybe, I can peel out of life obligations at some point in the near future and translate scribbled pen to digital paper.

If you’re still reading this blog (ha!)…what parts of my travel do you most want to hear about?

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Beer Week is Now Officially Over


I got Pliny the Younger. Twice. Living around the corner from Toronado has its perks. 

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