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Category: Random Life

Love Letter To My Phantom Reader

Dear Reader, This weekend, a street festival happened outside of our door called Karneval der Kulturen. If this sounds like fun, believe me it isn’t, especially when you live in the middle of the action. For us, Karneval der Kulturen means drunk tourists yelling under our window at one in the morning, it means hordes of teenagers in leis and beaded necklaces tossing back one five euro capirinha cocktail after another. For four long days, each morning, our street and sidewalk is covered in glittering shards of brown and green glass from broken beer bottles. Can you blame us for…

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Closet Hypochondriac

Dear Reader, Since you’re here, my friend, I’ll let you in on a little secret: I am a complete and total closet hypocondriac. Here’s how I figure: There are people with enormously good luck and there are people with enormously bad luck. The people with enormously good luck are the lottery winners, they’re the youngest on Granta’s list of the best young American novelists; they’re the people who are at the right place at the right time with the right idea, who earn enough money in one go to devote the rest of their lives to collecting 17th century German…

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I Loved Dick, I Just Didn’t Know It Yet

(Disclaimer at the end!) When I was 15, I had a dirty little secret, and that secret was Arnold Schwarznegger. On many a Saturday afternoon, my father pulled VHS cassettes out of their paper dust jackets—Conan, Red Sonja, Predator, Total Recall—and popped them into the VCR, with me on the couch, my legs crossed and shoulders hunched forward, my brother sitting next to me, taking two bites of Yoplait Custard style yogurt, forgetting it on the coffee table and taking a new one from the fridge a half an hour later (was that a boy thing or a Dean thing?), my…

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Museum Nerd At The Gemäldegalerie

My husband is always teasing me about what a major museum nerd I am. No matter where we are, even if the nearest museum only showcases rusty farm equipment labeled with fly-specked signs, I still want to go. What’s more, I will also be excited the whole time I’m there, reading the faded lettering, learning all about the fascinating differences between ridge and moldboard plows. Of course, Berlin has some of the best museums in the world, which means a treasure trove for museum nerd moi. Luckily I’ve also done a good job brain washing my children into liking museums,…

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Fermata Moment

In our teens and early 20s my sister and I were inseparable, Siamese twins born two years apart. “Do you guys ever do anything separately?”, people asked us at Chabot Community College, half judgey, half in awe. “No,” we told them. “Never ever.” We both worked at Waldenbooks, both went to Chabot, shared a car and lived at home, at least in separate rooms. When we got off work we sped down Crow Canyon Road all the way to San Ramon, dissed it for the plastic suburb it was, then turned around and drove back home. What else was there to do? We…

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The Secret To Eternal Youth

My grandmother on my mother’s side turned 90 last year and for whatever reason, she never went gray. A mere decade away from becoming a centernarian, her hair is the same light brown it always was. Still a natural brunette at 66, my mom inherited the same genetic anomaly. I was keeping my fingers crossed the same would be true for me, but then a spider web of gray started cropping up at my hairline in my late 30s, which I now dye away every couple of months. A streak of gray might be ok in my 50s, but in…

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Here Are The Shoes I Never Wear

Back in the 80s, when all the cool 4th graders at Thornydale Elementary in Tucson wore plaid button-up blouses with puffy sleeves tucked into Jordache jeans, a monogrammed comb in their back pocket for instant hair feathering possibilities, I played hopscotch on the playground in a pink lace dress and black mary janes. I liked my dresses and girlie shoes and didn’t care if that meant I could never hang with the popular girls. The popular girls were mainly horse-loving bossy creatures anyway. Why would I be interested? But my girlie threads didn’t hold me back: I could climb trees…

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Daddy’s Girl

My sister’s first truly serious boyfriend lived in the in-law unit of a rundown Victorian on Ashby Avenue, a few houses from the corner to Shattuck. Before I met him, I remember wondering who lived in that house. I was in my very early twenties and still not much of a driver and turning left onto Shattuck from Ashby was always a semi-traumatic experience. I’m not sure why I made so many left turns onto Shattuck, but for some reason I did. I guess that’s why I noticed the house. It was always the last thing I saw before I…

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Stubborn Late Adopter

When God decided which attributes to grant my character and countenance as I was knit together in my mother’s womb, I believe it went down like this: Omnipotent one: A sense of direction? Nah, this one doesn’t need that. Why don’t we give her the uncanny ability to remember useless animals facts no one really needs to know instead? The result of his/her decision, declared in the royal we? I can literally get lost walking around the block, like I did in Vancouver, Canada when I was 17. But did you know kangaroos have three vaginas and a group of…

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