Happy Thanksgiving from the Wandering Woman!

This is the time of year that we all hopefully take a moment and reflect on what we are thankful for. It’s hard not to notice that people have really been challenged this past year and don’t feel that they have much to feel any gratitude for. And who can blame them? When you’re trying to get a job after not having one for a while or trying to hang on to your house, or maybe even lost everything this year, it’s nearly impossible to be hopeful much less thankful. I’ve had a challenging year myself but somehow have been able to tell myself that everything is temporary. Challenges are meant to teach us something though most of us have enough character without having to deal with the house falling on top of us. I guess if I’ve learned nothing else this year, I’ve been reminded that we have to be grateful for TODAY. That’s it. I haven’t been able to venture off this year the way I would have liked but instead I found my partner and learned to explore where we live, making me appreciate home instead of looking outward. That’s not to say that my wanderlust has been squelched or that I don’t dream of going to Africa every day of my life, but for finding him, I’m grateful.

Which leads me to our challenge. In the middle of our whirlwind tour of dining around San Francisco and planning all of the fabulous trips we’re going to take together, we were forced to only think about today. He was diagnosed with cancer in the fall, and though his prognosis is very good, we’ve had to answer to the challenge. I’ve watched him soldier on and go to work in spite of feeling sick from chemotherapy, while constantly concerned about how he is affecting me and making sure I’m not upset by all of this . (Impossible.)  The lesson I’ve learned from him is that if he can go through all of this and still pick himself up and live everyday, I have nothing to complain about. (Though it’s hard for a leopard to change it’s spots.)

So today,  I’m so incredibly grateful for his health and him having a good day. He’s able to do what he loves which is cook and make great food for those he loves. I’m also grateful that my friends and family who have been so supportive, are also healthy and relatively happy. Not everybody can be wildly happy all the time but I think everybody is pretty darn close to it. I’m also grateful that my Phoebe kitty is still playing like a kitten and am so grateful for the wonderful connections I’ve made through my little blog. Live for today, enjoy every minute, and tell your peeps that you love them. You might find that you have more in your life than you thought!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Countdown to Halloween! (Oh yeah, it’s scary movie review time.)

Jack-o-latern

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Oooooohhhhhhhh! It’s my favorite time of year! I’m one of those crazy people that believes that Halloween is truly a holiday and one to be celebrated at that! I know it’s supposed to be for kids but having grown up loving horror films and dressing up, it’s an event worthy of becoming a national holiday. I’ve noticed that I have my own sick little tradition of watching at least one horror film every night in October, leading up to Halloween for the simple act of doing it. Because I can. Some people climb mountains because they are there, I watch horror films every night because they too, are simply just there. One must have goals in life (or in this case, ghouls) n’est pas?

I have  been pretty good this month but not perfect. Until this weekend. From here on out, every night baby, without fail. I won’t be satisfied until I am a paranoid mess by November 1. It’s tradition.

Let’s start with the most disgusting horror film I have seen in YEARS.  Human Centipede 2, Full Sequence. Now, let’s be clear about something. At somebody’s suggestion, I watched Human Centipede 1, First Sequence a few months ago and demanded to have my hour and fifteen minutes of my life back. It’s a film that quickly gained a cult following based on the shock value and originality of the subject matter.( If you don’t know what it’s about, use your imagination in the worst possible way based on the title until you cringe. You’ll come up with at least the gist of the story line.) It’s a disgusting plot. Plain and simple. But,true horror fans who roam the earth in our own zombie-like state ultimately appreciate originality where it is nearly impossible to find these days. So I was torn when I saw the first one because I kind of hated it but appreciated that nobody had done it yet. That made me invested enough to want to see where they were going to go with this story. It’s just pure, sick curiosity.

In short, the first film was about a German doctor who was a lunatic and sewed people together, creating a human centipede. (Gag. I mean it, gag. Even the actors in the film gagged.) Having said that, The sequel I have to say, on the heals of this premise, was genius. The sequel is about a fan of the original Human Centipede film who is not “quite right” to begin with and becomes obsessed with the film. Human Centipede Part Deux does a fantastic job of character building because they found a protagonist who is pitiful, causing the viewer to feel some sort of compassion and understanding for his lunacy. At least that was the intent. Believe me, the compassion goes away at some point due to the “ick” factor. Laurence R. Harvey who portrays the evil troll is going to have a difficult time shaking this image of him from the minds of movie goers the way Linda Blair did with The Exorcist. He’s creepy, nasty, slimy, crazy, odd-looking, and holds a regular job like the rest of us.That’s the part that works. The normal guy who goes cuckoo in regular society. It creates the this could happen to you, vibe. He does a great job of becoming seriously scary, and horrifying which will work for those who like the shock-value horror films. If that’s what you like, this delivers. My only spoiler is that now there are twelve people where the first had three, so imagine the “explosive” content of the film.

Movies like Hostel which I admit I enjoyed, tend to be on in the Eww Gross categories but I’m not kept awake by those films. They are fun to watch in the moment and then you go home and sleep just fine with the lights off and your sleeping mask on. In my opinion, if you don’t sleep with the lights on or at least pop one eye open wondering, what was that after you watched a horror film, then the film didn’t do it’s job.  I am old-school when it comes to my horror films.

In all fairness, everybody is affected by different forms of horror. For some it’s sharks, zombies, vampires, ghosts, etc. For me, it’s good old-fashioned demons and Lucifer. Yep, Luci does it every time for me.( I will post later about what films still scare me every time I see them but I still put myself through it!) Mr. Harvey and Tom Six (creator of the Human Centipede series) did a worthy job given the storyline but I admit, I slept like a baby. Maybe waking up once or twice only to shake my head thinking, man that was gross.

Dear Blog, I miss you.

Dear Blog,

God I hate when life gets in the way of my obsessions. Getting used to a new job and new schedule really creates a world of hurt to someone who thinks the word, “change” is a dirty word. I know it’s inevitable, yada, yada, yada, but to a creature of habit, it’s pure hell. I know, excuses, excuses. I have neglected you and I’ve missed you. You are my outlet, my cheap solution to therapy, and you never give me any lip service…..kind of like my cat. Now that I’m having to actually wake up at a decent hour like the rest of the world, my pea brain is suffering and all I can do is hope to stay awake long enough in the early evening hours so I don’t pass out too soon. I have officially become a disgrace to all nocturnal creatures and98.9% of the writing community. I have reignited my addiction to coffee so hopefully I will learn how to turn my late-night creativity into a day job. God. Is that possible? I know people do it but is that possible FOR ME? We’ll just have to stay tuned to find out. 

Oh, and then there’s the issue of having a travel blog and paying $4.19 a gallon for gas. Did I mention I have a small SUV?  I don’t see myself turning into Forrest Gump anytime soon, having the need to just run here, there and everywhere so we may just have to REALLY appreciate my own backyard for a while. No, seriously. I can’t afford to leave my backyard. SUV……San Francisco……$4.19/gallon, having to get up before 11:00a.m. You figure this out. Me loves a challenge. 🙂

See you soon blog,

WW

I Just Want To Buy A Book!

Remember the movie, “You’ve Got Mail?” I know it’s totally dated now but the story within the story was always interesting to me. Just to recap, Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks were doing the online dating routine via 90’s chat room when it turned out that his big chain of book stores were in the midst of putting her family owned children’s book store out of business. My, how times have changed. Last week, it was reported that Borders, the retail bookstore giant, filed for Chapter 11 due to the inability to pay its debt to publishers, vendors, etc. The talk on the street is that their lack of joining the digital age cost them sales, leaving Barnes and Noble and their Nook product as well as Amazon’s Kindle to leave them in the dust. My question is, when did reading become so convoluted?

I will be the first to admit I was on the Barnes and Noble bandwagon in the 90’s, toting my latte and sprawling out on the floor with 10 different travel books. To this day, I can spend an entire afternoon or evening rummaging through books but I can’t help but notice that HOW people obtain their reading materials has taken on a life unto itself. The evolution of the book buying experience is mind-boggling when you see where we are today. I think the Kindle and the Nook are the greatest inventions for travelers since they put wheels on suitcases. Especially since we have to travel lighter due to bulk and weight restrictions? Absolutely fabulous. However, what cracks me up is how some people have become concrete in their book buying practices and never look back.

What’s my point you ask? ( I know, get to it.) While the various book sellers were engaged in a race to sell the most, be the best, make it easy for the consumer to buy their books with the click of a mouse, the bookstore experience turned into something different, sometimes feeling like something is lacking. Even with the lattes. I know you just want to buy a book but like everything else I engage in, I must have atmosphere. Remember libraries? Free books…..what a concept! I hate to make a Sex & the City reference but there’s a scene in Sex in the City 1 where Carrie Bradshaw talks about why she still goes to the public library. The smell of old books and the experience itself which triggered my own memories of why I used to love to go to the old San Francisco library as a kid. (It has since become the Asian Art museum.)

I admit that I’ve turned my own online ordering into online hoarding but there’s still nothing like walking into a bookstore…..especially a used bookstore, and rifling through books that have been used, written in, dog-eared, beaten up, and appreciated. Although part of the problem, I have been caught between supporting the bigger chains like Borders and B&N and the small business owned book stores. Now, while feeling sympathy for Borders and its employees, alternatively I have to admit that I have hope that people will return to their roots and support the small business owner and their local libraries. Personally, while keeping up with the times, I have always leaned toward Mom and Pop businesses. We need them. Worldwide. One of my most prized possessions is a book I obtained in an antique store in Fiesole, Italy. On the bottom of a pile of books, I picked up a large picture book of Death in the Afternoon, written by Ernest Hemingway with Illustrations by Picasso. It cost me $5.00 U.S. and still is my best book buying experience to date.

Here are some of my all-time favorite bookstores that I’ve enjoyed over the years. If you go to the links, you will find the histories of these stores to be pretty interesting. I hope you all will add to the list if you have any favorites!

Dog-Eared Books, San Francisco-Located on Valencia Street in the Valencia corridor/Mission area. Small bookstore, great area, crappy parking. As is the case with any popular area, right?

Green Apple Books-San Francisco-Located in the Richmond District at the corner of Clement and 6th. This book store is often voted as a favorite in the local papers. It’s huge, creaky, and has the largest selection of books that I have found in the city. Love it.

Hicklebee’s-San Jose, CA.- I have to go back to my roots here. This precious, independent children’s bookstore has been around since 1979 and is still thriving in the community, offering and fantastic selection of books for kids and young adults. Located in the Willow Glen part of San Jose, it shouldn’t be missed if ever in the area. You can also visit and shop online.

Elliott Bay Book Company-Seattle, WA. -And then there’s my all-time favorite. Love, Love, Love this bookstore. They moved from their Pioneer Square location which kills me because that was a great location but I have always loved their selection. The Elliott Bay Book Co. has become a staple in Seattle and their cafe is where Niles and Frasier used to have their lattes so how could you go wrong. If anyone has been to the new location I would love to hear what you think about it.

Ghosts of Lents Past

Happy Ash Wednesday everybody! Now that everyone has “celebrated” Lent in their own way whether in New Orleans or Carnivale in Venice Italy, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty and actually decide on what to give up until Easter, if anything at all. For those who missed out on the joy of having your parents make you give something up during this time of the year, a history of Lent can be found here. Any Catholic kid will tell you that nobody got away with giving up brussel sprouts and church on Sundays.

What were some of the things I chose to give up for Lent? How about chocolate? Stupid. Yes, a valiant effort and women know that giving up chocolate is truly a sacrifice but I was still a teenager when I did that which means that I had raging hormones and no chocolate to quiet them. I think my parents almost caved during that one out of self-defense. My efforts however were rewarded on Easter with a large tin of Mrs. Fields chocolate chip cookies.

How about sugar? Even dumber, ya? Because chocolate wasn’t painful enough, I gave up refined sugar completely so I had no vice whatsoever. This was during the time that an allergist suggested that sugar may be contributing to my allergies so I thought, great. Lent is coming soon, so I’ll have a reason to give it up to test the theory. (Just test the theory, idiot.)

How about yeast? That’s right, yeast. No wine, no cheese, no bread. Doesn’t make for a very good Catholic, does it? Have I mentioned that I live in San Francisco? Sourdough bread was eliminated from the mix as well. That’s just wrong no matter the cause.

Notice that I’ve always used Lent as a reason to go on a diet of some sort. That’s par for the course with me considering that I get dyslexic with the eating to live/living to eat logic. I’m not a practicing anything these days because that would require commitment after all, but lately I’ve been thinking of getting my Lent on. There is something to be said for fasting or creating a goal and sticking with it.

What do you think? Should I go for the triple crown this time and give up all three??!! Are you giving anything up? I would love to know!