1. Assemble your tools.

2. Do not put glove on the wrong hand.

3. Optional: Enlist a friend!

4. Take account of your own personal and situational weaknesses. Are you lazy? Not a morning person? Busy on weekends? A resident of San Francisco, where there is no sun? If you answered yes to all of the above, the Cosmo Candy Stripe might be the plant for you. If you can get past the girly-drink sound of its name, the instructions are very appealing: "The Cosmo Candy Stripe does best when neglected!"

5. Ready, set, begin! Reading the directions on the back of your seed packet is a good thing to do here. For instance: should seeds be planted a quarter-inch deep or scattered across the top of the soil? Can you put them in a pot, or do they need to be planted in a garden? If so, and your garden is as weedy as mine, you might be in trouble.

6. After planting, find a way to figure out which seeds are which. You could tape a post-it to the pot or come up with helpful mnemonic devices.

7. Admire your handiwork. Sending photos to far-flung family members is one way to say, "You don't have to worry about me. I am a mature, responsible adult. I plant!"

8. Disregard above advice. I am only a beginner.


it feels so planetary here.

I have been feeling very domestic lately--washing dishes, purchasing Tilex. Yesterday I took a walk to the Mission (I have discovered the best route! Going down 24th street to Valencia and over to 18th is easy; it's getting back up the hill that is the both the best part and the problem). I bought medicinal flower seeds at the Scarlet Sage Herb Company. The cashier told me I should eat the flowers to receive all of their health benefits. Hmm. I picture myself standing out on the porch, leaning against the railing, chewing calendula? Too weird. "You can also make tea," she added. I'll do that.

Also on the flower theme: I planted poppies yesterday! I sat down on the ground and pushed soil around the seeds with my hands. The wind blew the dirt back in my face. Blech. The seeds are old, so the flowers might not grow. Who knows? It will be such a surprise. One day: brown earth. Next day: poppies! Can you tell I've never gardened before?

Ghazy and Helen came over on Friday night. Nora and I cooked them dinner: gnocchi in vodka sauce (2FRESH) and the biggest nicoise salad we'd ever seen. It took me about an hour to arrange it. The purple potatoes were the best part.

We like our napkins mismatched and our lighting romantic.

The next day was Nora's birthday. Twenty-one! Our landlady brought her a balloon. We made birthday breakfast waffles with Nora's mickey mouse waffle maker. On the side: sliced strawberries and yo-gurt. Yum. At night we grabbed dinner on Mission with friends.

In other news: Nora bought nail decals and Raiders temporary tattoos at Walgreens. We went right to work. I feel half-trashy, half-fantastic.

Went to outer space (that is: PLUTO'S!) with Mart and Elana last night. I am always happy when I'm with those girls. I ate strip steak. This is a really food-heavy entry. Miam miam. Elana stopped by to see the apartment afterwards. She lives so close now--fun!

I am reading "The Book of Other People" right now. Some of the stories I like, some I don't. The Miranda July is really good. Vendela Vida, too, and Heidi Julavitz's I keep thinking about. I love stories like that--ones that have so much good material you can just go around and around in your head afterwards. And when you discover something new, hours or days or maybe even weeks later--while doing something completely unrelated--I get it now: that connects! My favorite stories, though, are usually the ones that make me want to write. I have that problem--stopping in the middle of a page to work on something of my own. Sometimes I feel guilty. There is so much left to read. But how will I ever get to it all? That is the great and awful thing about short stories.


where are your mugs with the gnomes on them?

HOME is now a little pink weirdo with potted plants on the porch, bamboo in the bathroom, angel sculptures and abalone shells in the kitchen--and our oddball cleans up so nice. Nora and I have been working working working and the place is finally starting to shape up, clear out. Now that you can finally see the floors and open the refrigerator, it's looking good. It would have probably taken less time to unpack if we didn't keep getting sidetracked by all of our bizarre decorating ideas. ("Would you mind if I put my Pillsbury Doughman sculpture on the windowsill? Let's arrange that incense on the fireplace. Shall I hang my Native American clay platter above the stove?") Nora had to convince me to not deal with setting up my coffee maker the first night we moved in. It was two in the morning and I stood in my bike shorts, Peet's in hand, holding the directions upside-down. I crawled into bed; we went to the neighborhood bakery for bran muffins and caffeine in the morning instead.

In the afternoon we sat in our shorts on the back porch and planted flowers. I am not used to this warmth! It is a whole new San Francisco out here. We set them up on a ledge so that they receive more sun. Hopefully, there will be no wind.

At the end of the day we made pizzas with raw dough. We cooked them in our cutty gas oven that you have to light with a match. Afterwards Ghazy came over with a friend. We sat in the living room on a jumbled assortment of chairs.

"Yo, I found a rocking chair on Castro street. And I copped it."

You should have seen the kitchen a day ago. So many boxes--getting through it was like jumping hurdles.

Now, it is perhaps the strangest room in the house.


I built this dresser myself! Well, a handyman built it, but I selected the knobs. They are all different, with some Ikea ones mixed in. Is it the weirdest thing you've ever seen? The handyman thought I was insane.

"Aren't they supposed to match?" he asked.

"No," I said. "I have weird taste."

Figuring out where to put my favorite postcard was an important task.

So is hanging out in the laundry room.

The garden: it's a jungle out there...

There is a Walgreens only a block away! Must not blow whole paycheck.

If you go out the back entrance, there is an alleyway. Across the street:


na na na

New apartment is crazy amazing messy not unpacked so much fun. Tonight girls coming over for wine talk sitting on floor because no couch no getting too rowdy because no living room drapes. This update is short because I still have to find Nora's spoons, switch laundry to dry cycle, and jump on all of our paper boxes the way people crush grapes so they will fit inside the overflowing recycling bin outside. Pictures to come.


ready, set, go

I am having a real tough time believing it is August already.

This weekend is THE BIG MOVE! What? How did that come up so fast? I usually have these perfectionist tendencies that make it tough for me to be completely satisfied with anything, but I have this feeling of calm about this place and about the year in general. I'm just in awe of the way things are coming together. I'm getting ready for a new job and a new internship and a new school and a new home, and this newness is wonderful and motivating and a little bit terrifying, too. Am I ready to deal with my own finances? Not lose a new set of keys? Make my own dinner at night? Nora will help with that part. I am good at making coffee and cookies and not much else.

I am thinking of potted plants for the windowsill, words I want to put up on my wall, gardening boots, three-pot coffee makers. Laundry detergent and sponges and swiffer dusters and soft bath mats. How to change my cable? Cook complicated pasta dishes? Where is the nearest sushi spot? Who will be my neighbor? I am really down with the twenty-four bus line, the closest one to the apartment, so that is one thing I don't have to worry about.

For the time being, though, things are much less exciting. I am sitting at my desk, drinking coffee with soy milk, planning my escape from the office for a lunchtime yoga class. That's kind of exciting. Maybe a two on a 1-to-5 action scale, with one being Jason Robards in Magnolia and five being Uma Thurman in Kill Bill Vol. 2.