30 January 2011


Well the modern world is not so bad
Not like the students say
In fact I'd be in heaven
If you'd share the modern world with me
With me in love with the U.S.A. now
With me in love with the modern world now
Put down the cigarette
And share the modern world with me

(Modern Lovers)

Beautiful beets.
Cocktails and crayons. 
Setting type in the press. 
Invisible, immaculate transcriptions.
Metamessages in every conversation. 
Whipped cream and coffee.

What more could a girl ask for?

24 January 2011

ingredients for joy

Yesterday, while we were having lunch in the garden, soaking up the extraordinary January sun and talking about - what else? - food, a friend asked me out of the blue and in all seriousness if I was 'a salad person'. I didn't know exactly what he meant by salad person - nor, apparently, did he - but, without hesitating for a second, I answered yes.

Do I eat a lot of salads? I guess so. It's not that I eschew entrées, but as far as I am concerned, anything that can be eaten can very well be eaten in salad form. I tend to mix quinoa, sardines, vegetables and even cheese together and eat it out of a bowl with a fork. I'll layer any greens I have with beans, cheese, vegetables raw or cooked, and salsa; I mix fruits with yogurt and top it with nuts, granola, and honey. I am, without any doubt, a salad person.

One of my favorite salads these days is very simple. I like a contrast of flavors: something salty, something sweet, something savory and something fresh, so variety is important to me. Color, too, is key, and I find orange particularly delightful. This is what I do: I grate a carrot, add a handful or two of raisins, crumble dried seaweed into it, and top it with sesame seeds. For dressing, I mix Bragg's Liquid Aminos - salty and tangy like soy sauce - with dijon mustard, and I eat this salad in my deep orange bowl.

Enough about salads, though. In Santa Cruz, there is plenty of vibrant food to try. Charlie Hong Kong, an Asian street food place on Soquel Avenue, has delicious - and cheap and mostly vegan - rice bowls; I'm a fan of the hoisin pork.

Cafe Brazil on Mission Street - which is what Highway One turns into, and it turns back into the One at the far end of town - is the choice breakfast joint of beautiful people, and how could it not be? With its yellow and green walls, big windows, luscious fruit bowls, and rich egg dishes, it's the perfect way to spend a weekend morning... or afternoon.

Afterwards, you just might have to go to the beach.

21 January 2011

rolling revolution

January finds me wanting to head south. Instead, I go in circles. I ride my bike all over the city - finally I am again bombing hills with the wind whipping through my short hair and wrapping my sweater around my rushing, bent-over body. I have worked up the courage to ride quickly and mostly in high gear - and I walk blocks, as well as loops between classes. Biking is faster, but I see more mushrooms, berries, leaves and deer on foot.

But there are also roller skates; on skates, I also move in circles. The other night I went to Santa Cruz Roller Palladium where, for less than the cost of a movie ticket, I skated for a solid two hours to groovy tunes ranging from "Celebration" to Lady Gaga. I wasn't going fast enough until I took a hard fall and banged up my left knee pretty good. When JT's "Sexyback" came on, I had to pull myself up and back out onto the slippery, slippery floor. And roll, pell-mell, around and around and around.

flying roller skate and a full moon

mad meghan

disco ball and inline figure-eights

I'll be back.

18 January 2011

the art of ritual complaining

In modern America, much of our daily conversation is founded on complaints. We complain every day, but not because life sucks: rather, we complain because we don't know how else to talk to one another. On the bus to campus in the morning, a girl drinks a chai latte and complains that it's too hot for January; her acquaintance replies that she's wearing too many layers, but doesn't take off her scarf. In coastal California, we any chance to bundle up is a blessing.

This is America, though, and the process of complaining isn't the same everywhere else. In Sweden, for example, you only complain when you really have something to complain about. Otherwise, people think you're a whiner. Which you probably are - but probably not any more so than anyone else from the U.S. When I came back to the States from Sweden - and also when I returned from Denmark - I found it really obnoxious how much my friends, family, and acquaintances complained about everything. We'd be out hiking on a beautiful, sunny afternoon, and they would bitch about how hot it was. My Scandinavian-trained mind would think, first of all, At least there is sun, and then, then do something about it. Take your shirt off. Drink more water.

But, like I said, this is America, and in America - unlike in Sweden - we like to talk for the sake of talking. When we complain with each other, we are indicating that we care about each other. We complain to establish solidarity - "My parents suck." "So do mine." - as well as trust and intimacy. If your coworker trusts you enough to bitch about her boyfriend to you, then, well, you must be on good terms. We complain to start conversations, to validate our emotions, and to be social. In some situations - say, on the bus at 7 AM before your morning coffee - it's more socially productive to complain with someone than to not say anything at all. If you're trying to establish a relationship, it's better to initiate contact by saying something negative than to leave the gap between you well enough alone by not saying anything at all.

As I so often do when considering Europe and America, I stand somewhere in the middle - figuratively, I guess, in the middle of the Atlantic; maybe I ought to try Greenland - on all of this complaining business. I hate listening to people complain, yet I can't function in my day-to-day life here without partaking in some ritual complaining. I choose to spend my time with people who aren't big complainers, but in some cases - the morning after a good party, periods of shitty weather - ritual complaining is culturally expected, in which case I bare my teeth and smile.

16 January 2011

surf city

Santa Cruz is a dog town. Everyone always seems to be petting, walking, playing with, feeding their dogs. If you're on Westcliff Drive on any sunny afternoon - and we have been lucky with those these last few days - dogs compete with boogie board-carrying kids for space at waist level.

Even more than Santa Cruz is a dog town, though, it's a surf town: the original Surf City (with a History of Surfing museum to boot). Steamer's Lane is famous the world over, big-wave Maverick's is just up the One, and the Hook in Capitola is pure pleasure on a longboard. There are contests practically every other weekend, but there are always surfers in the water.

When I'm in the lineup, I forget that the people standing on the cliffs above can actually see us surfing and even hear what we are saying in the water. I imagine it's how animals in zoos feel: unaware of being watched. From their stand, the judges made announcements, interspersing commentary on the heats with warnings such as, "Noncompetitors: If you're close enough to talk with a competitor, you're too close to the contest." Weekends are crowded. The part of me that loves salt and doesn't mind fifty-degree water wanted to be out there on my longboard, but otherwise I was happy to watch the greatest show on the planet from a picnic table on the back of a flatbed truck.

It feels like summer, and it's a surprise when, at five o'clock, it begins to get dark.

13 January 2011

new year, new fun

These first two weeks of January have flown.

It started outrageously;

New Year's Day was splendidly soggy.

Back in Santa Cruz, there is sauerkraut to be eaten.

and wood to be carved to make prints.
I'm choosing dancing over sitting, talking over thinking, 

and images over words.