Archive for the 'nerdcore marriage' Category

reclaimed local comedy

Me: “Do you wanna see Philip Glass in concert?”

Jeremy: “Um.” Me (interrupting): “Do you wanna see Philip Glass in concert?”

Jeremy: “Um.” Me (interrupting): “Do you wanna see Philip Glass in concert?”

Jeremy: “Um.” Me (interrupting): “Do you wanna see Philip Glass in concert?”

(We high five.)


Jeremy: “There’s some kind of shriveled, wizened, dead thing on the soap dish.”

Me: “It’s goat’s milk soap, from Wellstone.”

Jeremy: “It’s definitely dead.”

Me: “It’s artisanal.

Jeremy: “Maybe there’s some really great-looking soap out partying somewhere, and this is the soap of Dorian Gray?”

Me: “That joke never gets old.”

happy mothersomething day

“Is breakfast actually under way?”


“That is a fib.”

“Is it?”

“If it were a number series, it would be the Fibonacci sequence. If it were a bone, it would be a fibula.”

“Go on.”

“I think I’m done. No, wait. If it were a misspelled law enforcement body it would be the FIB.”

“They’re dyslexic but they fight crime!”

“They fight CIRME.”

five images/second fortnight

Marching in the cold rain, my END WHITE SUPREMACY sign sagging, my husband and children festooned with glowstick necklaces, my city jammed with peaceful protestors from Civic Center to the Ferry Building: Market Street one river of loving souls.

The next day, beyond exhausted, crashed out on the couch; shy Alice making her way up onto my chest, quietly as if I might not notice, then crashing out there with me for most of the afternoon. Her fur from which no light escapes. The soft floof that grows out between her toe beans.

Driving up Bernal Hill with Liz to enjoy the raggedy clouds and dramatic light and rainbows. Stopping in silence at Alex Nieto’s memorial, a landslide of flowers.

An emergency drill at NERT to teach us how to self-organize and keep records. Head down counting people in and out of Logistics as incident after incident came in to Planning and Operations; adrenaline and worry and focus and exhilaration. When we got through it, high-fives all round.

At the exquisitely restored Curran Theatre to see Fun Home with my wife and our kids (it’s great; you should go.) The audience filled with lesbians a generation older than us; the ones who cared for men dying of AIDS; my angels, the saints of our city. May I walk in their sacred footsteps.

the separation of church and state and the tour de france

A busy week! We are in Villerouge with the girls’ grandmother and uncles. On Saturday, Christopher and Alicia drove up from Barcelona with their puppy, Tosia. We walked the puppy up to the ruined castle and ate blackberries warm off the bush. We had a lovely dinner together (tomatoes and basil from the garden, grapes warm off the vine) but our visitors had to leave the next morning. We see Chris about once every five years for 24 hours. It’s not enough. I didn’t cry when they left but it was a near thing. Afterwards we all went to Annette’s for a swim.

On Monday I was hell-bent on visiting Carcassonne at last. It was extensively rebuilt in the 19thC by Viollet-le-Duc, who also restored Notre Dame. Carcassonne is only thirty-odd years older than the Eiffel Tower but the Tower looks forwards and Carcassonne looks backwards. It’s a gaudy, inauthentic fantasy that is said to have been an inspiration for Disney. Visiting felt like I imagine Disneyland, which is to say crowded and hot, until we got through to the old keep itself and the crowd thinned and J and I looked at each other and heaved a sigh of relief.

On the way home we visited Lagrasse, a village nestled in a wild limestone gorge. I needed a bathroom, Claire wanted ice cream, J hoped that there might be cassis sorbet and Julia wanted to swim in the river. Lagrasse granted all our wishes in our first five minutes there and has thus endeared itself to me for life. Like Cacassonne, it is a funny melange of old and new. Half its famous Abbey belongs to the state; monks restored and moved back into the other half in 2004. You have to pay to visit both sides but it was worth it – the state kept the spooky medieval parts, but the monks got the cloister and the garden. The garden was fragrant with rosemary and thyme and I missed Skud very much.

Tuesday we rented bikes and rode the Canal du Midi, another thing I’ve wanted to do since I first came here in the ’90s. We rode an 18 mile round trip and the girls were magnificent throughout, each winning their own private Tour de France. Me to Jeremy as we set out: “When did we become the sort of family that does this kind of thing?” J: “About ten minutes ago.” For dinner I roasted a chicken with parsley and rosemary and thyme from the Villerouge garden, and we were all so hungry that we ate up every scrap.

Wednesday was supposed to be a quiet day but the markets in Lezignan were even more crowded than Carcassonne. I bought hats and sundresses for both girls and we went to Jill’s for a swim.

Today J, Claire, Barnaby and I had a road trip out to the Millau Viaduct. Good lord.

All of which sounds frenetic but there have been long quiet spells, driving through the red-earthed vineyards under the limestone cliffs, sitting in the garden listening to the cicadas and the cuckoos. There are moths here big as your thumb, with long probosci to sip nectar from flowers. The insect version of hummingbirds.

pretty boy


Happy birthday, America! I love you for your Steve Rogers, Bree Newsome, health care, marriage equality and Oz Farm.


I rode Colin’s favorite horse this morning and it was incredible. That would normally be the high point of the day, but today was in no way a normal day.

First, marriage equality. I married Jeremy in 2000 because I had secure visa status in the US, and he didn’t. The fear of him being deported was untenable. It was the vulnerability of migration that opened my eyes to what marriage is; it is forcing the state to recognize your found family. That definition of marriage was the gift of the people we lost to AIDS, whose partners were sometimes barred from the deathbed. Legal marriage means that your love matters, that it must be taken into account.

It’s hard, maybe impossible to convey to my own children just how staggering it is that we are here; how many people fought and died for this.

And even that wasn’t the high point of the day. The murderer of the Charlston 9 wanted a race war, not the occasion of maybe the most profound and beautiful moment of Obama’s presidency.

Grace is the unlooked-for gift, the undeserved kindness, a green shoot growing in the desert. Amazing.

five things for a friday blog

1. I spent most of the week in Chicago, a city I love for no reason other than that J and I once spent a very happy weekend there. The light over the lake and the severely beautiful architecture always bring back how giddy I felt then, gazing at the Chagall stained glass in the Art Institute, laughing because we had both noticed that the lake sounds like the sea but doesn’t smell right.

2. Despite which, I barely slept the two nights I spent in my (stunning, lake-view) hotel room. By the second night, with my throat raw and my dreams shallow and repetitive, I realized I had caught J’s cold, which he in turn picked up from Julia. I sat through a presentation on Thursday morning with cerebrospinal fluid leaking out of my nose. The plane landing in SFO almost made the left side of my face collapse into a neutron star.

3. This morning when Claire made her customary plea to be allowed to stay home from school, for some reason I agreed, and I’m glad I did. By ten she was feverish. It was a gorgeous dry sunny San Francisco spring day, with all the nasturtiums and roses already in bloom, but the loveliness was largely wasted on us. We ventured out only briefly, for coffee and soup and cold medicine. Claire has spent most of the day asleep on the couch, I on my bed, attended by our faithful kitten doctors.

4. I tried several times to expand on my winter soldier post with a description of how 1980s Australian patriarchy worked, but remembering the microaggressions is painful, and trying to convey their emotional weight is difficult. Pinned down in words, they are dry and seem manageable. It is only the accumulation of hundreds and thousands of them over the years that buries and suffocates you in the end.

5. Turns out I would rather remember the micro-non-aggressions, the people who startled me by saying exactly the opposite of what I had come to expect them to say. Gregan saying Well you are a nice person, why wouldn’t I like you. Professor Brown saying You were one of the most highly qualified candidates, we are glad to have you. Alex saying That must have been difficult. Grant, most of all, saying lots of things I still cherish, but mostly just scooping me up into the sunshine of his solar system, showing me a way to be happy that I had never thought of before. Four cheers for non-toxic masculinity.

Moments, too, where I cried because the pain stopped; like the first time I heard Mary Lambert’s “She Keeps Me Warm” and read that Mary is an out lesbian Christian. Well, why not? This one is fresh in my mind because Skud mentioned the other day that she’d met a member of the Sydney Anglican liberal resistance, and I thought, what a glorious thing to be. But then I realized that I was always a member of the resistance, even when I didn’t know it.

I want so many things back that I can’t ever have, not only Mum and Dad but being young again and in a world so full of possibilities (the twilight sky above Dublin such a rich and light-filled blue, Bjork in her own before-time singing “I don’t know my future after this weekend, and I don’t want to.”) Most of all I wish I could have been in less distress so that I could have been kinder and more kickass. But I did make it out alive and here I am, with my cats and my children and my J, our sunny little village in the city, our found family, perspective, time to read and think and make sense of what happened so that maybe one day I can write about it without jumping all over the place like this, without having to glance quickly into it and then just as quickly look away.

small good things

  • Not getting up till eleven this morning because trapped by the cuteness of the cats sprawled on the end of the bed
  • We still have most of a panettone and about a third of a box of peppermint bark left
  • Seeing Big Hero 6 again and loving it just as much the second time and then unanimously agreeing that we needed teriyaki for lunch
  • Ending the year as I began it, actually mansplaining things to the mister
  • This year I reconnected with a couple of old friends I had thought I’d lost for good

happy merry

Twelve years ago, I personally made this. It was one of my better days.

This year Julia giftwrapped herself for me, so now they are both my Christmas presents.

Then we went out for dim sum. Brand new old family tradition.

I’m very lucky.

american canyon

There was a house on the headland south of Dee Why beach. It looked out through Norfolk Island pines to the grey and silver sea. It was your typical San Francisco Victorian, 3br/2ba, and being in Bernal Heights… near Dee Why beach… it was priced at $1.6m. I worked out that if we put $200k down, our mortgage would come to a little over $7000/month, and I was trying to calculate that as a percentage of my salary, to see if it was over a third…

I woke up drenched in sweat and twisted up in the duvet. The cats were nowhere to be seen. I took deep breaths and waited for my heart rate to drop below 100. I pushed off all the covers but the top sheet and lay on my back staring up. It was as dark as it ever gets in our room with the plantation shutters closed: purple-orange with light pollution.

And then the whole house shook, exactly like the quake simulator at the Cal Academy. I could feel Bernal’s bedrock moving like the pistons of a giant machine. The house moved easily with it, a good rider on a disobedient horse.

My first instinct was to throw my body over Jeremy’s.

“In case the chandelier came down on us,” he said, amused, over coffee at St Jorge this morning. The chandelier is a IKEA Christmas wreath made of LEDs. It wouldn’t have hurt.

“The dream was scarier than the earthquake,” I said.

“Of course,” he said. “But did you hear that noise that went along with the quake?”


“It was property prices starting to come down.”

a thing a month

As part of ongoing efforts to live a more makerly, human life, I resolved to make a thing a month this year. Not a vasty thing; something small and manageable. In January, I cross-stitched a little constellation embroidery for each of the girls. In February I hand-wrote a letter to a dear friend.

This month I will try out the Kintsugi repair kit that J gave me for my birthday. It repairs ceramics with a mixture of glue and gold dust. I will test it on some of our table china, and when my technique is alright, I will fix a chip in the beloved bowl I brought home from Avanos, in Turkey.

When I first read about Kintsugi, I cried. The chance to be more beautiful in the broken places feels like a gift, like grace.

nerdcore marriage at its insightful best

Me: I dreamed about privilege. Like, privilege made concrete. It was this beautiful school or college for boys, only for boys, built out of sandstone with gardens inside that you could only catch glimpses of if you were locked out, which I was. Like Cambridge. And I realized I thought that would cure my depression. It was the Opposite Of Depression. I know how ridiculous it is but that’s how it felt.

Jeremy: Belvedere.

Me: …?

Jeremy: All those Escher paintings that go round and round in circles and defy physics.

nerdcore humblebrag

“I think we should get married and have babies.”


“And live in a tiny apartment in the middle of an awesome little city somewhere, and I will have horses.”

“Sounds good.”

“And you can work for Silicon Valley startups, and we’ll make friends with a bunch of people who build killer robots for fun.”


“I know, I know, that’s just asking for TOO MUCH…”

the shipping news

Another week; they flicker past. The big trade show of the year tired me out so much that I would come home and lie down on my bed for an hour after work. The first day I didn’t do that, the girls were surprised. A coworker said today he never thought of me as the sort of person who worried about client meetings. I said “Ever asked yourself why I do three hours prep for every hour face to face?”

Claire has a new violin. The school is giving lessons, free, so we rented this half-sized instrument from a place on Market. It’s adorable. I want to learn myself. The feel of the bow across the string is tantalizing.

Speaking of, Bella has a sore foot and I have been riding Jackson. He’s a big sour old Thoroughbred, scary sometimes to watch because of his repertoire of evasions. But when I ride him with my best self, I can get him forward and soft. I can only get it for a minute or so at a time: hence, tantalizing. I want to stretch out the nice moments so they get longer and longer. The trainers talk about the feeling of being “on rails”, when the horse’s hind legs are pushing along a straight line and the reins feel like train tracks and everything feels preordained. I’ve had that a couple of times on Bells, and now I can get it a little on Jacks. It’s quite a feeling to ride this huge horse over fences, fearless. Lopity lope.

When I get off him, it’s another six inches or something before I land, versus getting off little Bella. My eyes are probably sixteen hands or so off the ground, but his wither is above the top of my head. He’s vast and gentle.

I’ve been intermittently organizing around the house and I made my folding desk into a proper workplace for myself, with paints and sketchbooks and pens and pencils, so that even if I only have half an hour I can make a sketch or a watercolor. On Labor Day Monday I was in a bad mood for various reasons, but I did a painting and it helped me to feel better. I am completely amateurish, which is the point: I am letting myself learn to fail more. Julia loves to paint with me. Claire likes it but is also enjoying her piano. We’re the Austen sisters around here, I tell you what.

Speaking of, Claire has mastered the rice cooker and the kettle, and tonight’s stir fry with chicken, broccoli, green beans and carrots was mostly her work. She taught Julia to make the rice. Claire likes to bring me cups of tea, and has been offering to make me gins and tonic as well. Kid knows her mother.

Jeremy’s lovely but between his new startup gig and wushu, and my promotion and the horses, we sort of terrorist fist-bump in passing. But he did get a haircut and is looking totally awesome. I wonder if he would go out with me.

nerdcore theology

Me: “Those people totally had it coming. I was within my rights to kill them with my laser beam eyes.”

Jeremy: “Uh huh.”

Me: “If God didn’t want me to kill people with my laser beam eyes, he wouldn’t have given me laser beam eyes.”

Jeremy: “Do you have laser beam eyes?”

Me: “…no.”

funny husband is funny

A Neapolitan mastiff slobbers on his jeans. The dog’s owner is apologetic.

“No, it’s fine, it’s lovely!” says Jeremy. “It comes in vanilla, chocolate and strawberry.”


We are lolling by Stow Lake, when the Segway tour passes. I do the “Squirrel!” thing from Up!, exclaiming:


Jeremy says: “Stop changing the subject.”


I quote a show we like, saying: “I will answer your question in the language of crows.”

Jeremy says: “This is murder.”

it all started with a kazoo

Someone who clearly wishes us harm gave Julia a kazoo, and so we woke at 7 this morning even though it is Saturday. We feigned death until it was time to go to wushu, then we visited Briar Rose the hamster who lives with Salome, Jack, Milo and Najah. To Metate for fish tacos and then down to San Bruno Mountain to hike the Saddle Loop Trail with Jamey and Rowan.

I was expecting the mountain to be as it looks from a distance – bare and raw – but in fact it is paths winding among masses of wildflowers, and beautiful forests, and an unfortunately named Bog Trail that winds through a little canyon so beautiful it reminded both me and Jamey separately of Glendalough.

From there to the opposite corner of the city for swimming lessons (the short people) and coffee (me and Jeremy.) Claire won a ribbon for her backstroke – she has very nearly topped out of the swim school – and we made it into Lucca’s delicatessen five minutes before it closed, so we’re having fresh ravioli and Doctor Who for dinner.

“I’m so tired. I had a long day,” I said to Jeremy.

“I know,” he said. “I was there! And it all started with a kazoo.”

It’s our twelfth wedding anniversary. I was campaigning to have this recognized as the horse anniversary, but the universe wants to make it all about kazoos.

and now, doctor who

After we got home from Claire’s fencing lesson, I translated Julia’s homework while Jeremy and Claire wrote a script in Python to generate 90 times-table problems.

Jeremy explained each part of the script to Claire, and Julia and I had a bath together. We played the game where I pretend to call her while she is away at college.

Me: “Whatcha doin’?”

Jules: “Studying biology.”

Me: “What’s your college like? Is it like Hogwarts?”

Jules: “Yeah but we don’t do magic. We do science. It’s Hogscience.”

We agreed that when she and I are both dead, we will have a little cottage in heaven with a pasture for Alfie and Bellboy to share. We will spend our afterlife gardening and teaching ourselves the rest of mathematics.

This is just to say that I love my little family, and I love our life together, here, now. I am so happy.

steak and mushrooms

J: “I had a thought. As I was watching the blood and cream pool at the bottom of the dishwasher. I thought, this is what a Mongol nomad’s dishwasher must look like.”

Reader, I married him.